Art of Dying Volume II | Page 54

LIZZY MILES and I somehow tuned in. Prior to this, I had never had any kind of psychic ability and I have not had anything as extraordinary happen since. The hardest part about dying for families is that waiting period when they’ve intellectually accepted that this loved one is going to die and their dying lasts longer than what's comfortable. I try to acknowledge how difficult that waiting period is and explain to families that there's a lot going on in the dying person’s head, even if they're not able to talk. I call it 'the negotiation' as in the negotiation stage. That's based on something a hospice patient told me. He would actually have a conversation with someone I couldn't see, and then he would come out of it, and tell me what was going on. He actually used the word 'negotiating.' We walked around the facility the day before he died. He told me that it felt like he was going to get into a spaceship. Then the night before he died, he tried to sneak out of the facility with tennis shoes on, his backpack over his shoulder. This is what happens. The dying know they're going somewhere. It’s as if waking life becomes a metaphorical dream to the dying. I’ve seen people in bed, apartment hunting the week that they die. They know they're going but they don't know where. I feel that their conscious mind doesn't know that they're dying. But their subconscious knows. Another patient was in her nineties, with dementia. She ended up being in hospice for four years where I was a volunteer. She got to this point where she started to tell me things like, "We'll see each other again." "I wonder what we’ll wear in heaven.” I thought this was really cool. In her final week, her daughter told me she was dying. I went to see her. I wrote down, "God loves you." She read it, and then she looked up at me and said, "God loves you too, Elizabeth.” My jaw dropped because I didn't know 54 | ART OF DYING she knew my name. She said, "That is your name isn't it?” I was like, "Yes." I was crying. If the patient expresses fear then they're close. I would say they're within a week. Prior to that fear death feels hypothetical. If I meet them for the first time and they're expressing fear then I feel that somehow they know that they're going. But 99% of the time their fear is settled before they go. You can see it on their face. I call it the “angry elevens.” When they're sleeping they have this furrowed brow, and they look like they're talking to someone. Then their brow relaxes. Then you know, ‘Okay they've been through that negotiation. They're finally ac