Live Like You’re Dying
Is a “good death” an oxymoron? Can we have positive terminal experiences that create space and opportunity for growth and meaning? This possibility inspired me when I first read about the Conscious Dying Institute’s end-of-life doula certification a couple of years ago, and ultimately led me to sign up for the course.
I wasn’t interested in becoming a death doula as a career so much as learning how to offer meaningful support to loved ones at the end of their lives, but as I delved deeper into the extensive training, I realized that I was also seeking to prepare for my own demise. For many years, I had been on a journey to bring greater consciousness to every aspect of my life, so why not bring that same level of awareness to this final transition?
After months of reading, studying and online homework assignments leading up to a five-day, in-person intensive, I discovered that when we explore our feelings and thoughts about death, we learn more about our lives in the present moment. An honest exploration into our mortality can bring us into direct contact with our spiritual beliefs, our life’s purpose, our unfinished business and most of all, what is truly important to us. I knew that this deep inquiry would affect the course of my life.
In this month’s feature story, “Dying Well: Four Steps to a Good Death” (page 29), Ronica O’Hara interviews the founder of The Conscious Dying Institute, Tarron Estes, who invites us to ask ourselves if we had only three months to live, what we would consider the most important aspects of our spiritual, emotional and physical lives. I was required to complete this exercise as part of my own studies, and can attest to its powerful, transformative effect.
I remember reading Stephen Levine’s book A Year to Live several years ago. His suggested exercises and meditations empowered me to live my best life now, making myself more available to life’s blessings, mysteries, miracles and unexplainable events. Let’s not wait until the end to discover what’s most important to us. Let’s commit to living the highest, richest, most meaningful experience while we’re alive, as well as during our time of dying.
In deep gratitude for all of life’s blessings,