End of Life Issues and Love

The most profound work I’ve done in the recent past is to help a couple who were facing end of life issues. They had been married for over 33 years. When I first met them they were both healthy. Over the last 5 or 6 years Mary started having symptoms that nobody could diagnose. Finally she got the diagnosis of PSP Parkinson’s. At the beginning it impacted her speech, but only she could tell. By the end she could hardly get a word out intelligibly. Her movement became impacted. Eventually she fell and broke bones in her hip and leg which left her wheelchair bound.  She needed constant help. She couldn’t take herself to the bathroom. She shook so hard that when she ate her food flew off her fork. She felt trapped within her own body. Her father died of Parkinson’s and she had made it clear that she didn’t want to be a “drooling mess” or to be a burden to anyone. Here’s some background.

I worked with Mary for many years. She came to me for massage in 1996. Her body was rigid in so many areas. Although she was only in her 50’s, her fingers were bent with arthritis and she had to get creative about how to hold writing utensils. She wasn’t a complainer, she suffered through her pain.

As I learned different modalities of healing, Mary became intrigued by the work I was doing. She wanted to try some of my new skills, which were a blend of shamanism, coaching, mindfulness and body awareness. As we worked on this deeper level, she revealed to me that she had been thinking about suicide. I found out much later that she had thought about suicide many times in her life. The next body of work we did helped her feel much better. She got off anti-depressants, stopped having negative thoughts about her husband, and was able to connect more with him.

Eventually she, her husband and I began working together. They didn’t know how to communicate with each other very effectively. We spent hours in my office, working slowly, patiently and lovingly with each of them to help them express their feelings and thoughts to each other. That work was beautiful in and of itself. At the beginning it was like they were two people walking on different sides of the road. When we completed, they were walking hand in hand, and completely in this relationship together.

Their relationship slowly got better but Mary’s health deteriorated. It became harder and harder for her do to her normal tasks such as taking care of the household. Bill, who used to be afraid that he’d set the table incorrectly, started picking up the slack. He began cooking and found that he enjoyed it. As her health declined, he became Mary’s caregiver.

Mary finally got to the point where she really wanted this to be over with. She didn’t want to move to Oregon to have doctor assisted suicide because she didn’t want to leave her home. You must live in Oregon for six months before you can apply for this. So she found a book online called “The Peaceful Pill.” It talks about how you can commit suicide, the different methods, what you need, etc. We all read the book. She chose the method she preferred. However, she was unable to do it because her breath was so compromised. She felt very depressed about this. Her husband perservered and found information on a place in Switzerland called Dignitas. Dignitas will help people end their life if they have specific qualifications. It took some time for everything to be accepted and eventually Mary was accepted and a date was chosen.

Marilyn and Spirit
Marilyn and Spirit

They were scheduled to go to Switzerland on a Sunday in July. I went to their home the Friday before to do a ritual with them. Her daughter was there too. I began by playing a crystal singing bowl, calling in our guides, inviting love to be with us on this journey. I sang a song by Kate Wolf called, "Give Yourself to Love.” I asked if there was anything anyone wanted to say. One by one we went around the circle. Mary said that these were the people she loved most in the room. Her daughter recalled her favorite time with her mother and her husband just told her again how much he loved her. I asked everyone to hold hands and to just feel the love that was here. It was palpable. Bill left the room to get some water and Mary tried to say something. She was having a very difficult time talking so she got her white tablet out and wrote, “I felt the spirit of God and it felt good.”  She had a big smile on her face! What was so amazing about this is that Mary believed that when one died there was only blackness. She didn’t really believe in God and she wasn’t afraid of death. But when she felt the spirit of God and acknowledged it, we knew something very profound had happened to her.

Mary, Bill and Mary’s best friend all went to Switzerland together. She was there for 3 days and on the third day she got dressed in her opera clothes, said goodbye to her loved ones, took her medicine and left her body.

I have never seen so much love, care and commitment before. Bill’s willingness to let his wife go because it was what she wanted was a miracle to behold. The fact that Mary felt God before she left was another blessing. Being with them on their journey has been a huge gift to me. Knowing that my spiritual beliefs held them even if they didn’t believe the same has been incredibly powerful for me.  Thank you Abraham-Hicks for helping me to know that we are eternal beings and that when we leave these bodies we return to pure positive energy. To guide Bill and Mary with this belief system helped me tremendously, and I know it supported them too.

I continue to work with Bill, to support him in this part of his process. He created a beautiful celebration of Mary’s life and is moving through his grief. He has surprised himself by feeling happy and is realizing that he has changed. I can honestly say that he feels more confident than he has ever before and that he truly loves himself.

I feel like I’ve done a great job.