Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

“If a patient is allowed to terminate his life in the familiar and beloved environment, it requires less adjustment for him.  His own family knows him well enough to replace a sedative with a glass of his favorite wine; or the smell of a home-cooked soup may give him the appetite to sip a few spoons of fluid, which, I think, is still more enjoyable than an infusion.  I will not minimize the need for sedatives or infusions and realize full well from my own experience as a country doctor that they are sometimes life-saving and often unavoidable.”

~~Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, 1969

Now, before anyone takes it out of context, when she says “is allowed to terminate his life…” she did not mean physician-assisted suicide or mercy killing as it’s called.

She was talking about a patient going home, where she is comfortable, around familiar things, with people who know what kind of care she might need…

And I have to say, I have been in many homes where it was Jack Daniels that a patient was sipping off, not a nice Merlot.  And we were helping them out to the front porch for a cigarette so that the O2 tank wouldn’t explode.

But this is the messiness of real life. . . not visiting hours and sleeping curled up in a waiting room.

Dr. Kubler-Ross paints us a picture that was soon to become the portrait of what home care with hospice was going to look like.  Fixing the patient one last taste of stew, having the dog crawl into bed, having the grand-kids play noisily outside.

She goes on to say that when a patient is at home, the children in a family feel a “comfort of shared responsibility and shared mourning.  It prepares them gradually and helps them view death as a part of life, an experience which may help them grow and mature.”   She does not advocate for shipping the kids off to relatives house or keeping them so busy with soccer, debate club, babysitters, and sleep overs that they aren’t home.  Instead, she advocates for children to be present, to help them understand what’s going on, to be a part of things, and to have an idea of what is to come.

It’s in passages like this that I remember my days of home visits with families and I will admit, I took them for granted.  It’s how I was brought up and I just assumed that’s what families did.  Thanks to Elisabeth’s pioneering work, these images were added to our collective unconscious.

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I found this brilliant version of gate gate paragate parasamgate, bodhi shava chanted with a guitar.  I would love to have this on a continuous loop for a long meditation.

There are a few seconds of outside noises at the end of the track.  I found myself immediately thinking, “how can I get rid of that” and then remembered being at the Shambhala Center in Milwaukee for a day long retreat.  They reminded us that sitting is about pushing nothing away. . . it’s about touching sensations, sounds, thoughts, and feelings lightly and letting them evaporate.

I thought this was a great track to do that with.

Notice what your response is. . . do you tighten up?  stop breathing?  do you get annoyed?  where do you feel that in your body?  do you run away with the feelings that come up?

If we meditate to cultivate presence and compassion, we will not always be on the cushion or in a silent cave when we are fostering bodhichitta.  If we are to be a caregiver or a compassionate companion for ourselves as we journey, there will most likely not be silence in the world or in our hearts/minds. . . allow yourself to stay with the words, the meaning of the chant. . . going, going, gone to the other shore beyond.

For the whole Heart Sutra, check out one of my previous posts.

Play lightly with this track and allow yourself to just notice. . . not even label, just be with your self as things arise.

It is all practice for being there in life for the ‘full catastrophe of life’.

May you new year bring a sense of renewed hope and congruence in your life.


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Wonderful Teacher

Don’t forget your practice.  Don’t forget to start.

Give yourself and the world a great gift as we begin 2012. . . give the gift of mindful participation in life.

Here is Rinpoche’s message.

Peace on your meditation cushion and good will as  you invite the bell to ring.

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Around the world, families come together to celebrate the brightest light in the dark times.  Here is a little quiet music to sit with and relax.

If you celebrate Christmas, soon we will remember the birth of a child come to change the world.  Or we will celebrate with bringing nature into our homes, with fir trees, pine wreaths, lights, and candles.

If you celebrate Chanukah, you might be celebrating by lighting the menorah and honoring traditions centuries old.

Wherever you are, whether quietly snuggled in front of the fire or you’re sitting down to a feast, take a few moments to slow down.  Give yourself the space to take care of your heart.

If you have lost someone, allow yourself to honor them in this moment.  Honor them in a way that feels right for you; an empty chair at the dinner table, a special candle, an ornament, a favored song, or a favorite dish of the person you love.

If you are caregiving, it could be very likely that you might be asking, “Is this it?  Will be the last Christmas?  I can’t imagine how we’ll survive.”  I know these were questions we asked ourselves and each other for the two years we took care of my dying brother.  It’s normal and it’s okay.

Have compassion for yourself.  There will be an achiness in your heart, possibly even a hole.  And tears can fall; that’s okay too.  The people around you may try to quelch your tears.  Know that most likely it is because those around you just don’t want you to hurt.  But if we are honest with ourselves, how could it not hurt?

I used to tell clients that our tears are a manifestion of the love that we have for the person who is dying or the person who has died.  We don’t feel that kind of pain when we hear about some random person half way across the country or world dies.  We have no connection with them.  But that person we shed tears for, they are a part of us, no matter what the relationship is.

We will feel pain.  But we can do something about the accompanying suffering.

Today, we have been cooking and doing a few last-minute things for the holiday.  There have been tears for the family that isn’t physically here anymore; my brother, Aunt Ida, my paternal grandparents and the friends that were like family; Barbara, Harris, and Lois.  And there have been jokes about Harris wanting hot dogs for the holiday or my brother being impressed with Beef Wellington on the menu.

The important thing is that we don’t try to act like they weren’t a part of our lives or that they aren’t still so important to us.  We accept they are gone and yet the love still surrounds us on this cold winter night.

Touch your heart lightly and know that pain will change over time.  You have inherent wisdom and peace will come.

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christmas candles on the morning table

Image via Wikipedia

Excellent blog post from ElephantJournal.com.  Click here.

Breathe.  Don’t fight.  Breathe.  Does it really matter if it is Christmas, Chanukah, the New Year, etc?  Let’s enjoy the time with people we care about, sharing the bounty of gifts, food, and wine.

Let us be thankful for our health, honor those no longer with us, and grateful for shelter from the winter winds.

Peace on Earth!


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Thich Nhat Hanh in Vught, the Netherlands, 2006

Image via Wikipedia

Click here for the details. . .

And in the meantime, here is one of my favorites . . Plum Village’s chants to listen to while you wait for the streaming in the morning.

Allow the sound of the bell to float over you like waves.  Breathe in and know that you are not alone.  Breathe out and feel the warmth of the sangha.

May you be peace.

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Ruissalo winter forest

Image via Wikipedia

In my last post, I reminded you to breathe and stay rooted.  If the holidays get frantic, take just 3 minutes for yourself (hide in pantry or take a walk) and listen to something that soothes your soul. . .

My favorite winter music is the Windham Hill collections.  Here is a slide show set to their Winter Solstice 2009.

Do you have a favorite song or album for meditation and quiet time?  Please share with us!

In addition to movies that are great to watch on end-of-life and grieving, at some point, I will be adding a music and book section too.

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