|03-05-2009, 04:49 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Re: Giving People Permission to Die
Some synchronicity here: last night I posted a piece about having to put down our cat. Gayle (my wife, to those who don't know me) had to work through the decision to do this ("our" cat, Tink, was really her cat, honestly), and she came to the conclusion that having to resort to medical intervention to keep Tink alive would be traumatizing to Tink in the long-term, ultimately.
I do find myself still examining the quandary about the "relative value" of a pet's life to a person's life. The love Tink exhibited to Gayle was real and there is probably no way to put a price on it. (Unless, of course, you ask an insurance agent ...)
My bottom line here is that I had a sense from Tink that she somehow understood what was happening to her, and accepted it.
This is a hard kind of love, but I feel it was love on Gayle's part to make the tough decision that was right for Tink.
|03-05-2009, 05:27 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: NSW, Australia
Mum, Cancer and Red Leaves
I watched my mother struggle with cancer and I couldn't agree more.
I'd been somewhat prepared by an earlier experience as live-in carer for a friend with AIDS, and I saw him get to the point where it was going to be easier for him to let go. His parents, unfortunately, didn't want to let it happen, cried and wailed against it, and in the end decided it was my fault and banned me from the hospice room when they were there. I chose to allow it: if it was what they needed to cope with his passing, I could live with being the scapegoat, and bickering was the last thing he needed around him at the time. I do remember feeling it was a mercy when he did pass on.
My mother got to that same point fairly quickly after she started sliding downhill. With her, though, I'd had the privilege of discussing how she'd let me know she was around afterwards. My grandad is always accompanied by the smell of cigar smoke, my elder sister often brought us shells, so we worked out what her 'sign' was going to be - and at the end I simply told her it was ok to go, and I'd be watching for her first red leaf.
It arrived the next morning, below my balcony, and of a type that wasn't anywhere within streets of my unit. That leaf is now in a frame with a picture of her.
I'm very glad we prearranged our 'sign'. I've seen many leaves sitting squarely in my path, and with no clear way they could have got there, since she passed a couple of years ago. I've also occasionally just felt her watching - and sometimes I'll get the lights or power dip as well (she used to work for an electricity company, so that's kinda appropriate). Even though her body isn't around anymore, in some ways I see her more now than I ever did. And of course I love her still. Always will.
No, death isn't final. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, remember. Walking through a doorway into another room may make children worry about being left behind, but as adults we know it's nothing to worry about. Someday more people will hold the same knowledge about death.
|03-05-2009, 05:48 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Re: Giving People Permission to Die
Erin -- thank you.
cnwoods -- Yes, I agree there is continuity after death. I'm probably preaching to the choir here stating that, but our relationships continue. I'm not anywhere near the intuitive Erin is, but this is knowing for me, rather than believing.
In fact, Erin helped me recognize the significance and reality that relationships continue, so thank you for that, Erin.
|03-07-2009, 08:12 PM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Off this forum from 10/27/10 to 10/27/11. Yay me!
Very compassionate and brave post, thanks Erin.
For some reason, the permission part made think about Steve's blog about giving oneself permission to earn a certain amount of money. Maybe people also need to give themselves permission to let their loved one go. You can't give what you don't have. And it's no wonder so many people continue to suffer after a loved one's death, wondering what they could have done differently. I don't see how it is loving to insist that people continue to exist on life support machines, great pain and completely helpless. I know its not what I'd want for myself. It's a gritty subject, and glad you wrote about it with so much compassion.
|03-10-2009, 07:20 AM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2008
My grandmother is currently afflicted with a mind-debilitating illness similar (yet a bit different) to Alzheimer's. I find it pretty sad. She's definitely struggling yet seems to have very little consciousness left about her. I'm worried about the point when she'll have no consciousness about her at all, yet is still alive.
How would you give someone like my grandmother permission to die? In your blog post, you said you talked with the soul of your grandmother. How might non-mediums go about such a task?
|03-10-2009, 10:43 AM||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: France -> Germany -> France -> Brazil
For 2-3 months now I've had a feeling that I'm about to die soon. I've felt drawn to cleansing the house, sorting my papers, getting everything in order, writing my testament (to decide what will happen with the cat) and a "last post" for my blog. I've been delaying doing it. I'm young, I have absolutely no intention of dying soon, and I still have so much to do here! Heck, I'm just beginning! Yet I keep getting this feeling that I am "done". (Until now I was convinced I would not die no matter what happened because I wasn't "done".)
How do we know for sure it's time to go?
Does this make sense?
Thank you Erin for this compassionate and loving post.
|03-10-2009, 10:56 AM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
I don't know what to say. I'm hoping that what you mean is that your current way of life is about to end and a new adventure is just beginning in this life. But that's me just being selfish as I feel that you're someone I would like to get to know better and I want to you to stick around.
How are you feeling about it. Do you feel calm, nervous, excited.
I'm sure those on the other side are able to recognise their friends. But maybe it's hard for them to come down to our level.
And btw if you do pass over - you better be sending us all roses as your sign! I shall be very cross with you if you're not delivering bunches of beautiful white roses to my door on a daily basis.
|03-10-2009, 03:29 PM||#11 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Hi Rose, you're not done. Plenty left to do. sometimes we give ourselves windows to leave, though, after we've learned a particular lesson. But we also have the option of continuing, since we're already here. it's sort of like an upsell. you already went through babyhood, why repeat that? Just keep on going and draw new lessons to you.
Also, you will recognize your loved ones on the other side by their energy signature. no mistaking it. Don't worry about that.
Rachelle, you can communicate directly with her higher self. do a meditation and go into a garden and ask her higher self to come to you. Talk to HS about your grandma and what might be holding her back from leaving. What is she waiting for? it might be a legitimate reason. Help her finish her life. Help her tie up loose ends.
You can also talk to your grandmother about letting go. She might get it on an unconscious level.
|03-13-2009, 10:00 PM||#12 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: N.E. Wisconsin
Hi Erin, strange timing for me too, and also that the first post, from Daniel, was about a cat. (Daniel - my sympathy to you.) I just lost my cat this week also, and I had tried so hard to keep her going, through conventional medical means, alternative methods, supplements, love, visualization, affirmations, trying to communicate with her through meditation, and so on. I actually was kind of surprised that with all this effort, she still crashed so bad this week.
Some days before that, I had done some of the things suggested to me here on the board, one of which was to give her permission to leave if she wanted to. Much of the time she still felt really good, but there was a fair bit of lethargy that let me know she just wasn't doing all that great. One night as we sat on the couch, I talked with her and told her if she really wanted to go, she could, that I would miss her terribly and didn't want her to go, but she could if she wanted to.
It seemed like the next week she felt worse than usual some of the time. She started pooping in the living room instead of going to her box in the basement. I thought I must have done the wrong thing by telling her she was free to go, and I started begging her to stay, showering her with love. One thing I had been doing during my insomnia times was going into an alpha meditation where I'd walk down 100 stairs to a beach with her. This time when I tried it, she stopped about halfway down and wouldn't continue. She said matter-of-factly, "I'm tired."
I had her at the vet's overnight after she went downhill all of a sudden, and they were going to try to continue to bring her around the next day, but when they called in the morning, we talked and I told them we should go ahead and put her to sleep. I raced over there and spent about five minutes alone with her in an exam room. I had actually said goodbye to her the night before in case she didn't make it through the night, and said everything I wanted to say.
Now I didn't know what more to say, but I went in case she would find any comfort from my presence. I talked to her and scratched her head, and sometimes she would relax but then she would struggle and try to get up. She had trouble breathing and it was so awful for me to see the fighting she was doing. I opened the door and told the vet techs it was time.
Then they didn't come in right away. I was getting aggravated because they didn't come in right away, and my cat continued to struggle while I tried to get her to relax. I didn't know what to do anymore. Finally I said to her, "You can go. I love you, but you can go."
Within about 30 seconds she went into a very big stretch, stretching out her front legs and stretching her head back, just like a cat stretch. Then it looked to me like it wasn't a stretch but a seizure. I sprinted back to the door and told them she was seizing, then raced back to the table. She relaxed from this stretch and stopped breathing.
I don't even know if it was a seizure or a big stretch of release, but it was so incredibly weird for me to tell her she could go, and off she went.
Later I talked on the phone with her vet for quite some time and told her how it all happened. I said I think they need to hear these anecdotal stories so they can process them and determine how valid this phenomenon is. The vet said she's certain they're valid, and that this sort of thing happens all the time. She said she assumed my cat was waiting for me to come that morning before departing. And the cat fought and fought right up until I gave her permission to let go.
|03-13-2009, 10:23 PM||#13 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Re: Giving People (and other beings) Permission to Die
Thanks for that. Sorry to hear this is "up front and personal" for you, yet it seems to help me to assume these things are meaningful in The Greater Picture. (I believe that, though sometimes it's hard to remember.)
In reading this, I wonder if part of this process is giving ourselves permission to give our loved ones permission to leave. Not an easy thing, sometimes.
|03-14-2009, 12:23 PM||#14 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2008
I've got my own cat anecdote to add to the list. (And a human one, too!)
I nursed an old lady kitty with Chronic Renal Failure along for nearly three years. The last year was tough, and my vet was amazed the cat continued to live. And I considered having her put down--I was okay with making that decision, and told her so.
But she wasn't ready to go. A couple of times I picked up the phone to call the vet and make the appointment, and she came in and pestered me until I hung up--something she never did normally. I finally said to her, "You let me know when it's time. And I'll do whatever you need me to do." And I meant it.
A few weeks later, she went into a sudden, steep decline. I asked her if she wanted me to take any action to see if it would help her rally, and got a strong "no"--she was finally ready to go. I ended up calling the vet and making a euthanasia appointment for the following day, just in case. (And she didn't try to stop me.) But when I got up that morning, I discovered that she'd worsened so much overnight that she'd collapsed in her catbox.
The vet appointment was in another hour, but as soon as I thought about it I suddenly knew that what she really wanted was for me to be there and hold her and love her for as long as she had left. So that's what I did. I called the vet to cancel the appointment, carried her upstairs, climbed into bed with her, and just petted and talked to her. She snuggled up against me, and drifted in and out of consciousness, and even purred and kneaded biscuits on me for a while. She was dying, but she was totally content. After about three hours she finally died, and while she was in obvious distress during the last minute, it was over quickly.
What's remarkable to me about that experience is that the whole time I knew I was doing the exact thing she wanted--I can't put that sense of absolute rightness into words, but anyone who has had it will know what I mean. I'd had to have one cat euthanized a year before, but that was an emergency situation, and stressful. This was very peaceful, and being able to help her make the transition out of life on her terms, in the way she wanted it was a powerful experience. I'm grateful to have shared that with her.
But back to humans, and permission, and letting go.
The cat wasn't afraid to die; she just wanted what she'd always wanted in life--to be loved and showered with affection.
My grandmother is in the late stages of Alzheimer's. Her body drifts in and out of wakefulness, and she has no control over it. She can't even swallow her own saliva. I think one reason she's lived this long is because she was in excellent physical health at the onset, and is genetically predisposed to stay that way (women on that branch of the family tree routinely live into their 90s and 100s). She also gets excellent nursing care--she's not going to die from neglect.
I last saw her a couple of months ago (she lives 1200 miles away). My dad seems to regard her as a persistent nuisance at this point (oh, god--don't get me started on this), and wonders aloud why she's still hanging on in the state she's in (which in his opinion barely qualifies as human anymore). But when I visited her, I was totally aware of her presence. She's not some annoyingly persistent houseplant, as my dad seems to think; she's still there. And while her consciousness may be different, she's still herself.
I've had a couple of very intense dreams in which I am visiting with my great-grandmother (who died five years ago at 102), and we are sitting in her kitchen, eating pie, and discussing my grandmother. "That girl's just stubborn," Grandma says. "Always was. She'd be so happy if she just came over here; it's so nice, and there are so many people here who love her. But she insists on hanging on. Maybe you can talk some sense into her."
And I tried. I don't have any difficulty communicating with her. In fact, sometimes I sense her just over my shoulder, stopping in to see me and check out what I'm doing. And while that presence is definitely her, it now feels much lighter than it has in the past. Her sense of fun and good humor is there, but without all the heaviness and regret she'd acquired over the years. It's almost girlish. I like it when she's around.
When I first brought up maybe shuffling off the mortal coil, she didn't want to do it because she was afraid of being forgotten. As long as her body was around, nobody would forget her. That came as a bit of a shock to me.
She's no longer afraid of that; we discussed it at length. But she's still not ready to go, and now it's simply because she likes the experience she's having. She knows she still has a body, and it's her anchor here, but she feels very detatched from it. She's not trapped in it, and she's now experiencing the first real freedom in this lifetime and is enjoying it. She likes to check in on my great-aunts and my kid sister the same way she does me, even though they don't know she's there. She also dearly loves the woman who is her primary caretaker (and when I finally got to meet her I immediately understood why). And she's worried about my dad, and his obsession with money, property, and status, and what he will turn into once she's really gone (even though she knows it's out of her hands). She's still an active, involved part of the family, whether anyone realizes it or not.
So from the outside, on the physical level, people look at her and believe she has no reason to keep living, and no consciousness left--but she sees it differently, and until her body gives out or she decides to go she's sticking around. So I've done my job, telling her that when she's ready to finally go it will be okay. And in the meantime she seems to be happy, so as far as I'm concerned everything's just fine.
Last edited by MagicalRealist; 03-14-2009 at 12:29 PM.
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