(This is a monthly column I write for my local newspaper, The Nugget, in Sisters, Oregon)
My best friend just had her second mastectomy last week. In the last two years, she’s had her gall bladder removed, a lumpectomy, a mastectomy and now this one. She says the good news is that she’s lost 20 pounds and can see her toes again!
She has several messages on her cell phone asking her to call another oncologist for follow-up. She’s procrastinating. “It’s not in my lymph nodes so I’m not going for radiation or chemo,” she says. “I’m done with the medical stuff.” She insists she’s going to eat better, exercise more, take up yoga and meditation, and try to be as healthy as possible until she dies. She’s contemplating an artistic tattoo to obscure her now breastless chest.
That’s the rub. You can go through all the treatments and deal with all the side effects of them– sick as a dog and wanting to die most of the time. You maybe get a few good months and then it comes back with a vengeance and you die anyway. The outcome is the same. The difference is the quality of life in between.
This doesn’t have any thing to do with age. My friend is 5 years younger than I am. It can happen to us at any time in our lives. We have jobs to get to, children to raise, relationships to deal with, bills to pay, retirement to plan for, and then suddenly we have to make these decisions about what we want and don’t want because we are diagnosed with a serious illness or have a life-threatening accident.
I had a stage IV melanoma a while back. Had the Moh’s surgery, no problems, no lymph node involvement. That follow-up oncologist wanted to do radiation and possibly chemo, but I said no thanks. I’ve been in remission for almost 8 years. That doesn’t mean it won’t still come back. One or two spots I’d probably have them removed but that with a vengeance thing… not so much. I’ll start planning for the end of my days.
I don’t have a problem with dying. I did that once. Drowned. It was a fantastic journey home and back again. I expect it to be the same the next time, only without the back again, so I look forward to moving on to what comes next… because I know there’s a next. Of course I’ll miss my family and friends but I know I’ll see them again soon.
My concern is more about what will happen to me while I’m still in a body. I refuse to put up with Alzheimer’s. Any inkling of that and I’m making my going away party plans before I forget how! I’ve filled out my Advance Healthcare Directive and appointed a non-family member as my healthcare representative so my children don’t have to make any decisions. They don’t want to talk about it so I sent them their copies and included a video of me telling them my decisions about what I want and don’t want. I’d opt for a heart attack over a prolonged illness, but if it were an illness, I’d be working on the paperwork for physician aid-in-dying the moment I got that 6 months to live diagnosis.
So how does one decide what they want at the end of their life? It has to be based on one’s own beliefs and values, not forced on you by someone else’s biases. Talk to your family, your doctor, your spiritual advisor, search your soul, search the Internet… meditate, pray, talk to God or a tree. Educate yourself about the process. There are some good videos out these days about death and dying– “Consider the Conversation,” “How to Die in Oregon,” “The Day I Died: The mind, the brain, and near-death experiences.” The more you know, the better decisions you can make about your own healthcare at the end of life.
Today is April 16th National Healthcare Decisions Day… think about it!
It’s time to have The Conversation
The best gift you can give your family is to have all your paperwork in order so they can carry out your end of life wishes if it becomes necessary. It will save them a lot of worry and grief if they know what you would want them to do under certain circumstances if you are unable to speak for yourself.
How will they know unless YOU tell them?
How will they know where to find important papers if YOU don’t tell them?
This workbook will help you and your loved ones have the conversations needed to make the decisions beforehand that they might be called upon to make for you in an emergency situation. Doing everything is not always the best response… and hope is not a plan.
Nobody wants to talk about death, especially their own… but we are all going to die some day… consider how it would affect your loved ones if you died before your next breath… then don’t put it off out of fear of bringing it on. It doesn’t work that way.
It will give everybody peace of mind and if there is an accident or emergency health crisis, your family will be able to spend time with you instead of rummaging around for paperwork and phone numbers, and all that other stuff we tend to put off.
For those who experience fear of death, this near-death experiencer describes leaving her drowning body behind, in full consciousness, fully alive and aware of everything going on around her then traveling through a void on an amazing journey accompanied by a loving being of light who opened her consciousness to remembering all we forget when we become human beings, including that this is what happens every time the body dies.
We don’t die!
We are not our bodies
Bodies are temporary vehicles that allow us to experience life on this planet
Like astronauts wear space suits, we wear human suits
We are spiritual beings having human experiences as part of our eternal spiritual journey
When our body gives out, we return home
How you want to interpret that, what that means about your religious beliefs or lack of, what that says about God, has nothing to do with this cycle of life. Any of those belief systems can be incorporated into this practice to help you to have a peaceful transition experience with full awareness about what is going on and what comes next.
“Who we really are is all but beyond human understanding,” says author Diane Goble, who has spent the past 44 years since her NDE searching to find the words that describe her experience, “but I’m working on it.”
In Beyond the Veil, which is the 5th generation of her writings, including a training course for caregivers as transition guides, she has integrated the knowledge she absorbed during her NDE with her exploration of ancient mystery schools, world religions, and science, and years of meditation practice and spiritual explorations to convey the meaning of the message she was given to share so it makes sense to most people.
This is your opportunity to raise your consciousness and go beyond what you think you know. Each time you read it, you will experience lightbulb moments as you realize you too know this but had forgotten. As you practice the exercises, you will come to a deeper understanding of who you really are and the meaning of this life to your soul’s journey.
It has been her life work since her experience in 1971 to share this message and to teach the art of conscious dying, and now she has put her teachings into a workbook to help families talk to each other, their doctors, and their higher consciousness as they prepare to leave this phase of life and transition to the next, fully conscious and engaged in their journey home.
Available everywhere – ISBN 9780963860651