I travel twice a week to a nursing home an hour away to visit and work with an incredible human being. Though she is confined to a bed, and her life is supported by a feeding tube and tracheotomy, she is bright and funny and thoughtful. It's a difficult assignment for me--I do not like seeing her trapped in a body that's in constant pain. Yet, its also been inspiring to work with her--mainly because our sessions have been so rich.
Lately, we've been discussing end of life concerns, as well as life after life possibilities. The Big Questions get asked every time we meet: What is it like to die? Is it right to want to die? Is is natural to pull the plug (of her feeding tube)? These are big, tough questions. I answer the best I can with what I know and have heard from being with many people nearing death and others who've been through near death experiences (NDEs). I say things like: "You will be supported to be as comfortable as possible in your dying process. "
As to whether it's natural to pull the feeding tube plug, I answered with a direct question: "Is it natural to be on a feeding tube?" This one startled her at first, and yet she answered "Absolutely not." I then said, "Whether natural or not, though, the choice is ultimately up to you whether you are supported in this way." I left her with a lot to think about that day.
On our last visit, she topped all previous questions in the Big Question department. She who is a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, loving friend to so many, an inspiration, always friendly and warm even when in immense pain; this good, good woman wondered aloud, "Am I good enough to have a good afterlife?"
How does one answer this question? She is a very spiritual person, and has been "talking to" her angels since a child. God is Love, according to her beliefs and knowing, and yet she's asking if she is good enough for a good life after life? I wanted to assure her that yes, of course she is. Instead I paused for a few moments to contemplate why she asked the question in the first place.
I thought about self judgment and how powerful an influence it is in my life and the life of a lot of good people I know. I recalled the many times I heard from people the following words, uttered quietly after they found out that I see auras: "My aura must be black." I always ask "Why do you say that?" and they answer with: "I've done bad things." Or "I've had bad thoughts." or a variety of other self judgements.
I thought about the concept of goodness: How good do we have to be in order to be considered good by God? I looked at my friend and asked: "I know you talk to your angels. Is there an angel who is hovering nearby, taking note of every time you've done something naughty? Ya know, making a 'bad behavior' list and checking it twice?"
We both laughed, and decided this was a shifty eyed, scowling angel who's soul job is to make such a list. And then at the end of life, we get to choose whether we wanted to hear from Old Scowly, or have the angel tear up the list.
This possibility made us both pause. And then I quietly shared what I have heard over and over again from good people who've had NDEs: "We are our own judge in the afterlife. We have the opportunity to feel and experience some of the choices we've made, and how those choices have affected others. We have this experience in order to learn and grow in spirit."
She shed a few tears--I tell her it is my job to make people cry. She smiled, and cried some more. I did too. I hugged her, and squeezed her "good hand"--the one that feels the warmth or cool of my hands. She mused, " I am my own worst judge, aren't I? I am a shifty eyed angel." She smiled.
"I think I'll rest well tonight, thank you."
Hey good people, do your best and take it easy on yourselves, ok? I'll try my best to do so as well.
With love and appreciation for the Big Questions,
PS: Still running a March special on services while in my current home and office. Come visit with me: http://elkespage.com/education/