Art of Dying Volume II | Page 84

PHYLLIS SHACTER “I made contact with a publishing house about six months before Alan died. We both wanted our experience to benefit others. I held Choosing To Die’s book release celebration on April 9, 2017, exactly four years after Alan had his last food and liquid. Completing Choosing To Die closed the most significant chapter of my life — 26  years of being married to Alan, and 4 years of grieving and healing. I was ready to move into another chapter of living and loving. The book has been part of my journey toward inner freedom. It has been about learning to live and love in new ways. It has been about overcoming my own fear of death. And it has been about serving countless others, most of whom I will never meet. For the first two years after Alan’s death, I spent most of my time alone. The only places I went were places where I felt safe and people knew me. For the first year, several times a day, I was on the floor doubled over in pain, sobbing. Grief, fear and anxiety were my dominant emotions. I don’t think that it's possible to measure grief and how it plays out because it's so much about the baggage that we carry from our whole life into the experience. I allowed myself to be in free fall after Alan died. As a result, my energy in relation to everything around me transformed. I'm living my life differently than I ever have before. I know this work is not about me. I don't care if people know my name. I just want others to have this information. It began when Alan, two weeks before he died, said that he wanted everyone to know about VSED. I told him that he would have to trust that I would be his vehicle. I still feel his co-creation with me. I feel that Alan and I are doing the most important work of our relationship now. The work is about more than VSED. I'm an advocate for expanding end of life choices. I'm an advocate for conscious dying. I'm an advocate for preparing to die. I'm allowing the energy of this message to unfold with grace. I can't imagine not doing this work because it is making such a difference for so many people. A couple contacted me as the husband was getting closer to making his final decision about VSED. He was 90 years old with vascular dementia. It took him eight days to die. The day after he died his wife sent me an email and said, "We used your book like a manual." I'm an advocate for living into our dying, being aware of what is happening to us when it's happening and not denying it. 84 | ART OF DYING