Angel of Death. The name had started to stick. As a volunteer, working with the dying, my job was to help patients relax, ease some of their stress.
“She needs you more than me,” on old Irish doctor said as we both arrived at a patient’s home simultaneously. “I can give her medication for the pain, but dying takes strength and a surrender I can’t prescribe.”
I learned about dying from my sister’s bedside.
“Have you ever witnessed death?” her attending nurse asked, and when I shook my head, she cautioned: “You might want to leave now.”
I didn’t leave. I’d promised my sister that she wouldn’t die alone. I stayed till the end.
I would do the same for many more. It was why I studied Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, and other forms of relaxation. Bringing comfort to the ailing gave me a purpose.
My grandmother had been a midwife. She practiced in a rural area, at a time when phones were not available.
“How did you know when to go?” I asked her once. “Births are unpredictable.”
“There is a subtle knowing that comes with the position,” she said considering her answer. “Sometimes I would have a dream alerting me to the time, other times it was just an impulse.”
Attending to deaths was much the same. Unpredictable, and yet with subtle cues. Grandma ushered life in, I helped the crossing over.
The circle of life.
(Note: it’s been years now since I have been able to assist the dying. The experiences I had were a gift and an honour. I was prompted to write about this experience by Reena’s Exploration challenge, and also by my weekly focus which is subtle. Life is precious and each stage a miracle. I am grateful to be reminded of this today.)