A True Test of Spirituality
A teacher of mine once said, “If you don’t know who you are you will have trouble in life.” Charles Berner. Well, if that is true in life it must also be true in dying and death. So let’s take a look.
I have noticed some things around dying and death that are linked directly to spirituality and I have witnessed some behaviors that demonstrate what can happen when a person lacks a deep spiritual connection.
I remember one night in particular when I was on shift at my local hospice; it was a busy night with lots of family visitors and much going on. There was one particular fellow though who was in his room all alone. He caught my attention because he was extremely fidgety and seemed very anxious. Though I was busy with another family I was able to get the staff’s attention and asked if they could check in on him.
Through out the evening his agitation became even more intense and he was restless and seemed very disturbed. He couldn’t seem to lie still or settle. He was becoming very animated and in a way panicked. He was tugging at the bed sheets, pushing the call button, waving his arms around in this kind of frenzied way – a bit like he was going crazy.
The nurses tried everything to calm him – nothing worked.
Then all of a sudden he died.
“Oh my God,” I thought, “He was afraid to die!” He must have felt himself slipping away and not knowing that he wasn’t only his body he panicked. He didn’t know who he was. The end was fast approaching and he was dying and struggling for his very life as a human body.
It was so obvious in hindsight, at least to me at any rate. So I checked in out with some colleagues of mine and it seemed to be consistent – people without a strong religious or spiritual base have a hell of a time when death comes knocking.
My brother Peter’s death was a different story; though he deeply wanted to live he wasn’t afraid to die. His strong spiritual beliefs helped profoundly as his last week of living was in front of him. He knew he was a human being ‘plus something’. He knew he was spirit and would be stepping out of his body into another reality. He knew he was going back to the One he had come from.
Though it was hard to let go and say good-bye there was a grace to his final week that was noticeable. There was no struggle, Peter had accepted his death was imminent as we all had and we simply spent our days together remembering, massaging, eating, resting, telling stories, and simply being a family who had come to terms with their loved ones death. His final breath was a conscious one as he simply let go of the body and relaxed into the One.
Whether Peter is Spirit or not wasn’t important. What was important? He had a passionate belief that he was spirit living in a human body and this served him well through his active dying and death. He had something non-physical to lean on, something bigger than him, something he had faith in.
I could tell you many more stories on both side of the coin and what I am led to believe is –
Faith brings grace as far as I can see.