Depths of gratitude & grief…
Last autumn I took the training to be a Hospice volunteer & it was a surprisingly cathartic, healing & unravelling experience. Since then, each time I go into the Hospice building, it seems to touch my heart & soul so deeply that I unravel even more. Even as I’m writing this, tears are starting to flow. Tears that start as grief for what was or what could’ve been, that then unearth & free up a very deep gratitude for the miracle of life. Gratitude for everyone & everything in my life, that in each moment give me with the opportunity to re-find Me.
Early this morning I went to do a vigil for an elderly lady who had actually just passed away before I arrived. Even though I didn’t get to be with her physically, the experience touched me deeply. When I was sharing my feelings with a friend afterwards, they asked what it was about volunteering at Hospice that has such a profound effect on me. I hadn’t really thought about it before so it was interesting being with it & witnessing what arose.
Being at Hospice reminds me of being in the ashram in India. There’s a sacredness about both spaces & the energy that’s created in them. Often people go to places like this either post or midway through what could be considered to be a traumatic experience & so there’s a common desire to find peace & go inside in a loving & supportive environment. In both places people are often in a space of fragility, confusion, loss, unknown etc. & looking for answers, answers to make some sense of everything that’s happened & answers that lead them into peace. When I was in the ashram, I know that it took all of my energy & focus just to be with what I was going through & so I didn’t have that extra energy to do anything with anyone else’s stuff. It was incredibly freeing because it let everyone do what they needed to do without that element of trying to help or make better. I realize now that it’s a case of honouring & trusting that we’re all experiencing exactly what it is that we’ve chosen to experience in order to help us re-connect with our deepest, ‘real’ selves. The Self that is eternal, never changing & that has taken on an overcoat of a human being to experience the human life.
It was the gift that changed the relationship with my Dad & gave us the most beautiful two years of connection before he died. It’s so often an unconscious thing that we do, trying to help & make better & somehow free others from not having to feel any pain. But that’s not what life is about. It’s not that we have to experience pain to feel peace but we do have to allow others to feel what it is they need to feel. I know that from heart break for example, my heart now loves more purely & unconditionally than ever before. Each time it breaks, it expands & another layer of protective varnish falls away & the pain somehow becomes the most divine feeling of deep connection & ok’ness. So as I know it’s such a gift for me, who am I to prevent other people from going through that too? No-body.
Being at Hospice also brings me closer to my parents who both died suddenly. My Mum, nearly 14 yrs ago when I was 29 & my Dad two & a half years ago. No matter how someone dies, there’s always a sense that it’s sudden, even if they’ve been ill for sometime. What I feel that I missed with my parents was the opportunity to share that last hug, to hear their stories & learn more about them, to say everything that I wanted to say, especially with my Mum. Hospice offers me an opportunity to do that through supporting people as they gradually go through their transition from body back to soul. To hold their hands whilst they’re going through their internal journey, to listen deeply to people who simply want to be heard, free of that ‘fixing it’ element. It’s very profound & a great privilege. We’re not here to change anyone, but we are here to re-find ourselves & support others in their process.
Volunteering at Hospice & serving in the ashram is soul food, nurturing from the inside out. It’s the way that I thank god for the gift of life that I’ve been given. I have the opportunity of being in presence with people, honouring the sacredness of the moment & knowing that there is nothing ‘to do’ with it, that the gift is in the breath, in each breath that allows the other to breath & to know that it’s safe to feel, that it’s safe to express, that it’s safe to relax. Simply witnessing the moment. The tightly wound coil unravels all by itself, even if it’s just for an instance.
Thank you for letting your Self and other unravel back to your centre.
In love & gratitude……