Walking Each Other Home

I’ve gone from never watching the news on TV to being an addict who, for the last two months, has not missed one screening of the 6:30 SBS nightly news. I keep telling myself it’s because I need to keep updated about COVID-19 but I have a hunch there’s slightly more to it. I wonder if I have a fascination in hearing how many of my fellow human beings have lost their life in the past 24 hours. The death figures coming out of the UK and the USA are truly alarming. For so many of us, these figures are just numbers without a face but every number is somebody with a name, a family and a story. Not only are these unfortunate souls dying of a deadly virus, many of them are also dying alone without the support of loved ones around them. On the SBS program, Date Line, which focused on Spain this week, some of the nurses became quite emotional as they explained they had taken on the role of family for many of the COVID-19 patients because actual family members were forbidden from visiting the nursing homes or hospitals.

Walking Each Other Home

Seeing the world death toll mount has coincided with my reading of a very special book by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush called Walking Each Other Homeconversations on loving and dying. The book is set out in the form of a conversation between Ram Dass and Mirabai and it has some great pearls of wisdom as well as practical tips on how to best support loved ones who are passing. As we are so acutely being reminded by the media on a daily basis, death can happen to any of us at any moment. Most of us don’t wake up in the morning thinking we are going to die. But people do. Until recently, it hasn’t been a topic that we have talked much about in the west. It’s actually something that many of us fear and that most of us would prefer not to talk about. Until you pick up a book like this one. Ram Dass places a real focus on love in his book. He states that, Loving is the art of living as a preparation for dying. If you know how to live and to love, you know how to die. Death comes without warning. One learns the art of dying by learning the art of living, becoming master of the present moment.

The present moment - most of the mindfulness gurus out there like Eckhart Tolle and John Kabat Zinn as well as Buddhist teachers and texts, point out that for a meaningful life, it’s important to try to be really acutely aware of each moment in life as it arises along with a keen sense of curious-like gratitude for it. They say it’s a tragedy if we get to the end of the road and we’ve forgotten to take this fundamental message on board. In the 2nd edition of Life’s a Mango – mindful inspiration for inner transformation, I have a poem about Dying. It is from a Buddhist perspective. It includes these verses:

So, this is why we must

Seize each moment now.

Be joyful and grateful.

Come on, make a vow.

Your life is really

A series of moments.

On your deathbed the mind best

Have a grateful component.

The state of your mind

On your deathbed is great.

Thoughts that are kind and forgiving

Will determine your fate.

A mind that is gentle,

Calm and at ease

Helps your next rebirth

And from suffering frees.

There are another couple of books I’ve read lately on death which have also helped me to transform the way I look at our passing as well as realise the importance of acceptance and connection with others. One book is by well-known celebrant, Sharon Muscet. She’s an expert on healing and loss. Her book, 7 Life Lessons Learned through Loss is a collection of heart-warming stories about the people she has connected with over the years in her role as a funeral celebrant. Like Ram Dass, she stresses the way that love and death are so intertwined. I found her true stories to be quite powerful and transformational. She also includes relevant links to her website.

Finally, I had the pleasure of having a book stall at the Good Life, Good Death Expo in Brisbane a couple of years ago. I connected with some wonderful people and I was very fortunate to meet the author, Zenith Virago, one of the co-authors of The Intimacy of Death and Dying. This jewel of a book points out that when someone we love dies suddenly, or after a serious illness, we're often left wondering if we could have done more. It’s a great read because it prepares you to care for loved ones as well as shows you how to talk to children about death. Like the book by Sharon Muscet and Ram Dass, it’s filled with people's personal stories and the authors share practical suggestions on ways to make the death and dying of loved ones everything you'd want it to be. Remember, Love is more powerful than fear.

I hope you found this blog useful. It’s 6.25 pm so you know where I’m headed.

Stay safe. Take care.

Love,

Jen xo

#dying #death #gratitude #lifesamango

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© 2020  By Jen Compton. Ocean Reeve Publishing

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