Art of Dying Volume II | Page 83

Every person is completely different in the way they approach death. We are like snowflakes. We can't come up with a cookie cutter "this is the way to sit with the dying" because everybody is different, everybody's needs are different. The ability to be able to move and change and ride with them is really a skill beyond judgment, without opinion. It's being able to feel it all, to take it all in, and just be present. The universal theme is the difficulty, the profound difficulty, in accepting that you're going to say goodbye to everything that you've invested everything in. And to not knowing and being profoundly okay with not knowing. This is very painful to accept unless you have worked at it almost daily throughout your life. What you thought you were or had dies in the process of the physical body dying—everything. This includes all of the notions, all of the beliefs, all of the opinions about what death is— everything that seemed important or meaningful in any way dissolves. But the ensuing freedom and profound ability to stand in the ‘Wow of Existence’ is completely beyond anything we’ve ever imagined. Rather than becoming a master of dying, I'm left with a sense of "I have died" in the process of exploring this. Limiting definitions of the world have died. It was a bit wobbly for quite a while, but now I've gotten used to being in this state, and it's delicious. The Art of Dying is a complete and profound acceptance of anything and everything. What if I end up on life support for a year? What if I could profoundly accept that too, and lay there with a feeling of arms outstretched, heart wide open, machine breathing for me? I've reached a point where I can. It's fascinating. I never thought I would get there. Our dying process is fascinating. We enter what is called liminal space, that space between worlds, that space between states of being,. We have not quite let go of our familiar state and we are not quite in the next. The boundaries of reality start to bend and dissolve, and the caregiver who's sitting with that liminal space, unbeknownst to them, is profoundly affected. No matter how strong their own thoughts and opinions, they are being affected. They can't help but be. I feel like I’m the living dead. I think this is what was meant in the Bible when it says we can have heaven on earth, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This is how ‘it’ is done in heaven, this feeling of complete and utter acceptance and love for everything no matter what. That’s heaven. We have to do that on earth now. And the only way to do that is to breathe into this awareness while we're still here. Most people spend their whole life asleep, and then they wake up a few days before they're about to die. Death’s core inspiration is the spiritual work of letting go of everything now, before our dying process. REV. OLIVIA BAREHAM  is a certified Death Midwife, Home Funeral Guide, and Celebrant. She holds degrees in Education and Natural Theology and Sacred Healing. Olivia is the founder of Sacred Crossings—The Institute for Conscious Dying and Home Funerals in Los Angeles. For over 12 years, Olivia has guided families in the art of conscious dying and home-based after death care. She recently launched the nation’s first alternative funeral home, owned and operated by death midwives, offering natural, sacred alternatives to traditional funeral home practices. Olivia’s certificate training program, ‘The Art of Death Midwifery’, is now offered to students worldwide. WWW.SACREDCROSSINGS.COM  VOLUME II | 83