How Can We Peacefully Navigate Death & Dying?

Lessons from the Edge

A Journey of Grief
December 8, 2022
In the last month we have navigated Noah’s birthday, a cancer diagnosis and subsequent passing of our beloved tabby cat Captain Jack (CJ) and the 8th anniversary of Noah’s death which was yesterday.
On top of this add two close family members who have been hospitalized for serious issues and … it’s a lot to take in.
And yet, our little family of three ~ now minus two ~ has somehow navigated this tender time in a way that I once never would have thought possible.
We have learned deep and harrowing lessons in navigating trauma and grief. As we prepared to say goodbye to Jack over a five day honoring of his spirit, I saw how, in some strange way, it mirrored the rites of Noah’s passing and allowed us to step deep into the energy of saying goodbye in sad but resourced ways.
When you know a loved one's death is imminent, it's hard to explain the feelings that define this time.
I remember with Noah, wanting to stare at him and absorb his essence so that I could remember every detail in the days to come. I had this same feeling with Jack. It surprised me and shook me to the very core to feel this deep sorrow once more.
This very visceral deep longing for the physical.
However, one thing I learned over the last several years is to set realistic expectations and that to be truly present and immersed in the last days … ever… one must leave the grieving to later.
There will be a whole lifetime to grieve.
These are the moments you can't get back.
Knowing that you have days left with a loved one is a kind of deep suffering I wouldn’t wish on anyone but it's also an opportunity to say a profound and deeply meaningful goodbye.
To truly honor a relationship and never-ending love.
Some of my last memories of Jack were informed by the wisdom so hard learned from our Noah.
These are a few of the things I savored with CJ over those last five days:
  • A slow blink from deep green eyes.
  • The appreciative way Jack drank water with my help
  • Poo in his box 😉
  • Headbutts along the way.
  • Rituals of love – subtle interactions we all ritualize in everyday life. For example, kissing the soft part of Jack’s ear repeatedly while he snuggled on Sam’s lap. His purrs were always filled with love and devotion.
  • His last wavering footsteps, courageously taken.
  • The way Jack would drop on the floor in the direction he wanted to go in those last few days when he didn’t have the strength to go further. Oh, the courage and tenacity of this kitty. Something I witnessed in Noah as well.
These are the last sacred reminders of CJ’s presence on this earthly plane, and oh, we miss them both ~ CJ and Noah so much!
In truth, I was shocked at how Jack’s physical decline mirrored Noah’s.
This is what I remembered from the faces of death and decline.
This is what Noah’s death taught me and how it made Jack’s time easier and less traumatic:
  • That last surge of hope as they eat one last meal & share a joyous remembering before the rapid decline
  • Knowing when it’s time to stop eating (and when not to press)
  • Water, water and more water ~ dry throat membranes as the body prepares for death
  • Be gentle and give ample time for them to make choices, there is no rush anymore
  • Give them space but lots of kisses
  • Speaking with love often is so important. When you enter a room declare, “Hello gorgeous, I am so happy to see you!” Emote your words as deeply from the heart as you can. There will be no second chances.
  • Savour each moment. The quiet ones and all others in between.
  • Focus on comfort and letting them know they are the love of your life. Oh, how we love you both.
  • Remember the ways in which you supported and held each other. Tell stories when they can’t speak anymore. Hearing is the last sense to go.
  • Feel into your heart and let the love emanate to your beloved.
There will be plenty of time to grieve, a lifetime in fact.

Other Lessons Learned:

Cultivating peace is a crucial support for death and dying and the grief and overwhelm. Here are some ways I have learned to do this:
  • Give yourself space to feel your feelings and all that encompasses.
  • If you are angry, bitter or confrontational with others it creates a huge stress in an already stressful situation. Take a walk, take a breather. If someone suggests an approach that you disagree with, take a breath and let them know that it’s not what you need in these final moments. Commit to finding a compromise so that all can feel their needs will be met in these last moments together.
  • If you already have an energetic/spiritual practice, this is where you test run it most in life! If you feel you can’t “hold steady”, don’t give up, take a breath and start again. Each moment offers you a chance to start again and again and again.
And let’s be real, just because you have tools doesn’t mean it won’t be rough.
It will.
On Day 2 of Jack’s last 5 days, I was so angry at the universe. 
"Why don’t we receive miracles of healing? Why, why why?"
Honestly, I was ready to give up on Reiki and spirituality as I grieved, feeling such visceral, overwhelming anger and grief.
Then an awareness of something deeper, a different perspective settled over me. I guess you could say my years of spiritual practices kicked in.
A new thought entered on a whisper of a sigh....
Maybe miracles look a lot different than we expect.
Can we welcome miracles that are not what we want most?
Like having  5 days to show Jack how much we loved him? Like the blessing of a dear friend organizing a vet service to come to our home and euthanize CJ in a way that felt supported and filled with love? A way that minimized his suffering ... and ours? [CJ was terrified of the vet, though they were very kind]
Can we recognized different pathways of healing that are different than the miracle of physical healing and make the most out of those opportunities?
I’m still leaning into this one but I realized that Reiki and energy healing have been powerful allies in my own healing and releasing of guilt, doubt and fear and allowing me to embrace wonder, joy and deep connection with Noah's spirit.
I don’t believe for one minute the pain is a gift but I do believe that in each and every moment we are given multiple opportunities for growth and healing.
If you are missing a dear loved one during this holiday season, my heart goes out to you.
May you feel held.
May you feel the spirit of something beyond the ‘season.’
Death of a loved one is not confined to one season of life, it is a continual unfolding of moments, hours and days as we find ways to remember, honor and treasure.
Sending much love to you all this evening. Thank you so much for following along. My dearest wish is that you might feel seen, held and witnessed in some of these ramblings as we step over the threshold together into 2023.
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I'm Dawn Williams, a self-professed, Cloud Whispering Reiki Master/Teacher based in NS, Canada. My work infuses Energy-Based Protocols & Divine Streams of Energy (including Reiki) with my innate ability to tap into patterns, symbolic references and intuitive story, evoking profound spiritual connections and energetic shifts.

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Peacefully navigating death & dying
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