Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stories of Conscious Dying (Book Excerpt)

Art’s Story

"A sterling example of living life to the fullest during its final stages
was Art, a close friend of my husband, John, and the officiate for
our wedding. He lived a rich and robust ninety years, dying just
a week or so after his birthday. When we first met, he was living
with his second wife, Judith, on the coast near Half Moon Bay, and
while long since retired from the work-a-day world, he was active
and engaging, usually busy with projects that he continued until
just near the end. Art was a modern day Renaissance Man. He was
a storyteller, poet, and believer in the rights of all humans to live
their dreams as he listened closely to what anyone had to say. You
always felt heard by him.

Then, several years before his death, he began to have serious
heart trouble. His active days began to slow somewhat although
he still continued to attend spiritual study groups, local plays, and
enjoyed the company of friends and family. He knew well that he
was dying, but he chose to live each day to the fullest. In fact, just
several years before his death, he recorded a music CD, “Hero,”
which he then gave to his loved ones.

A ninetieth-birthday celebration was planned, and Art was by
then unable to attend, and even though he did get dressed and was
determined to walk across the street to the neighbor’s home, he
wasn’t strong enough. His friends instead dropped by, chatted with
him, and then returned to the party albeit without Art’s presence. A
few days later, he was admitted to the Veteran’s hospital and by the
end of the week he was slipping in and out of consciousness while
remaining peaceful, knowing that his time was drawing to a close.
He did not struggle nor did he complain but instead allowed the
natural course of events to unfold. It was a Saturday afternoon when
John and I went to say our good-byes, and by then his breathing
was more labored, his attention no longer on the physical elements
around him. Judith and friends had brought music that played in the
background and the whole “vibe” was calm and serene.

I had brought my drum, and we formed a small circle around
Art’s bed as I began to sing “We Are the Old Ones,” a chant I wrote
in 1989 while sitting on the Bell Rock Vortex in Sedona, Arizona,
and later recorded in 1994 on “Flight of the Hawk: Shamanic Songs
and Ritual Chants.”

“We are the old ones,
We are the ancient ones,
We are the old ones
And we bring you peace.
Lay your body down
Lay your body down,
Lay your body down
And rest, and rest.”

Soon his wife, Judith, John, and one other close female friend
who had been in spiritual circles with Art all joined in, singing
quietly and helping him find his way back home. Art showed no
resistance at all as he entered the final stages of the transition and
took his last breath several hours later. We will all remember those
last moments with Art, one of the most amazing men John and I
have ever known."

excerpt from Spiritual Turning Points A Metaphysical Perspective of the Seven Life Transitions
All rights Reserved c. 2011

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