Death. That and taxes, pretty hard to avoid. Well, I guess you can leave the country or just not pay your taxes, but everyone and I do mean everyone will die. The trick is to avoid it for as long as humanly possible. Bear with me please, not all doom and gloom here.
Now, I have ‘known’ since I was around 8 years old that I would live to see my 88th birthday (for sure) and that when I die – it will be in my sleep. So basically over the years I hadn’t given this topic much head space, nor did I ‘semper fi’ it and risk life an limb with death defying acts. ( By death defying, I mean “extreme sports” type of behavior – other risky behavior that I am for sure guilty of participating in, can be discussed later). It wasn’t until June 2009 and an article that I read in the Oregonian about a fairly new service in my hometown and the man that helped get it created there that I started thinking about death and dying.
The article , ‘Chance Encounter’ by Margie Boule,
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/margie_boule/index.ssf/2009/06/chance_encounter_inspires_man.htmlhaunted me for several weeks before I finally responded to the call to volunteer.
The organization is called ‘No One Dies Alone’ and it simply is that. At their request or that of their family, volunteers sit with those in transition from this life. It was started by a nurse in Eugene who shares the program to those who wish to create a group at no charge. You can find out more @ http://www.peacehealth.org/shared-pages/Pages/_no-one-dies-alone-default.aspx?from=/sacred-heart-riverbend/services/end-of-life-care.
As I said earlier I was haunted by the article and couldn’t let it go, so I reached out to the volunteer coordinator that was listed in the the article, to find out what the process was to become a volunteer. After passing a drug & TB test, and a background check – I had to attend a 1 hour orientation near my home – I was in! My husband was less than thrilled at the thought that I would do this for “I would be around people with illnesses” – he is a germ-phobe so I give him lots of space around these types of events. My inability to be with either of my parents when they passed; over rode any of his concerns.
It was for me a way to ‘make amends’ to them for not being there at the end – I was too self-absorbed during my father’s passing and out of touch with my mother. Neither were ‘alone’, but I wasn’t with them and I should have been able to put the past aside. The fact that I didn’t still gives me pause.
I find by doing this gig, if you will, to be a spiritual walk. I find comfort in just sitting next in the room. It’s been over a year now and I have been fortunate to sit with a number of patients and although I yet to be with anyone in that moment of transition, I am honored to be a part of the process and this organization. I find that I am getting my dignity back.
Why am I thinking about this topic today? Grief surrounds us even when it doesn’t necessarily touch us on a personal level. Recently two people that I know have transitioned out of this life. People around me have been discussing their lives with me. And while I hadn’t been particularly close to either one, I knew them and I know their friends and families. Either one will have to worry about paying their taxes this year, or any year going forward.
As I live my life today I think often about what I do or can to “pay it forward”, to live a spirit-centered life. To live with intent, purpose, humor and love…what’s yours? Begin today by telling those in your life – that you love them. And look forward to paying your taxes.