I recently met Barbara at a Death and Dying Retreat (it was actually really joyful!) held by Nancy Ruby of Yoga Motion and Maribeth Goodman of The Goodman Group.
Barbara’s presence is like a light bulb that doesn’t go off. She has a spirit and energy that defies her 83 year old body. One that begs for stories and wisdom from her well put together presence.
At 15, her dad left the house, her mom attempted suicide and she was admitted to foster care. She went on to marry, her husband dying while they had 3 young children.
She decides at 37 years old, she’ll take a NOLS course (it’s around 1970 at this point, not something women did back then).
Barbara knew after that if she could hang with a group of 20 year old men while carrying a 60 pound pack on her small frame, she could do anything.
She supported herself by being a kindergarten teacher, antique seller and most recently interior designer (I told her wanted some fashion design tips).
Last year she decided she’d take a yoga class for the first time (at 82 years old), and when I met her at this retreat, it was her first one, exclaiming, “I haven’t felt this safe (nurtured and nourished) since I was in the womb! I’m so glad I did this for myself!”
It was moments after when I asked her to be my grandmother (mine both died many years ago). She happily agreed and soon started calling me granddaughter.
Over the weekend, we explored death – the journey of the last days, and moment of death, and after death. One of the most important and eye opening parts for me was learning about the 5 Wishes.
Barbara shared she had done them for her children and it’s given her whole family a lot of clarity and closeness around her passing (at some point 🙂
The 5 Wishes is a document you create or help a loved one create that states the 5 wishes when we’re in the final stages near death:
- The person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t – someone you trust who can make decisions for you that you agree with about your care.
- The kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want – like do I want to be on life support no matter what, or only if there’s a good chance of recovery, etc.
- How comfortable I want to be – pain management, music played, oil applied, etc.
- How I want people to treat me – do you want people with you, prayers said, hand held, talked to, etc.
- What I want my loved one to know – your desires like you want your family to know you love them, you’ve forgiven them, to ask for forgiveness, etc.
This is a legal document and will override what hospital rules are.
The woman I learned about this from watched her mother die over a month n the hospital when all she wanted to do was go home, but the hospital couldn’t let her because she had unknowingly signed an agreement to keep her alive at all costs when she entered.
Having this document not only gives you a choice, but gives really helpful information to your loved ones. How beautiful would it be to know what your dad or mom want when they pass.
Or have your wishes granted when the time comes.
But in order for you to do this, you must first face the fear of death. It’s a fear in our culture that drives anti-aging and productivity, but it’s destroying the relationship with ourselves and an inevitable part of life that has the potential to be a transcendent journey into who knows what lies beyond!
Not only that, facing your fear of death leads to a life more fully lived without fear and the belief that it will get better when…
Barbara taught me the grace and ease over the weekend that come can when we face aging and death.
When I helped her out with her luggage to the car, I picked up her “DaKine” luggage – which is a ski manufacturer, and said, “You have a ski bag Barbara!” with curiosity. “Well, I learned to ski when I was 40 and started racing when I was 43. I won a lot of races,” she says with a smile.
“Of course you did Barbara!” I stated with my jaw on the floor.
You can find more information about the 5 Wishes here and how to start a conversation with your family or loved ones about it.
What if this one act created a stream of conversation that brought you closer?
Categories: Health & Happiness, Heart Centered Living, Inner Wisdom & Intuition