I am a firm believer in creating and maintaining a written journal after loss or other life altering transitions. Journaling is a way to put uncensored thoughts and feelings on paper. Journaling also helps us to assess the amount of progress we have made, no matter how large or small. We can empower ourselves to keep the contents of our journal private or share them with whomever we feel most comfortable. There are no specific rules that govern this process, only those rules that make the most sense to us given our current circumstances. If we chose not to operate under a different set of rules after loss or other transitions, we would not be able to adjust to a new way of life.
I wrote in my journal just almost daily after my 18-year-old daughter Jeannine died in March of 2003, due to cancer. Today I make entries when I feel the need to remember a dream or other event that I want to revisit at another time. Today my journal functions to provide clarity on my journey as opposed to reliving the pain of my daughter’s death. With that in mind, I will discuss an entry that was dated April 15, 2013 and which was titled” My Deathbed Scene.”
New Meaning in Death
Almost immediately after I began to meditate, I had a vision of me lying in a hospital bed, older and balder, with my family by my side. I told them that my time was short and that I wanted to maintain a relationship with them after my death. My words to them made sense because once I became open to having a spiritual relationship with Jeannine after her death, my perspective drastically changed.
Calling On An Old Friend
After experiencing my deathbed scene , I silently called on crow, who has been one of my greatest animal teachers. Crow in Native American animal medicine represents sacred law and the union of past, present and future to dictate our life experience. As soon as I called on crow, I heard him outside my window cawing his truth. I believe that crow medicine was instrumental in giving a brief glimpse into my future death. I believe that I can use that knowledge to educate others who are willing to listen, about regarding our deaths and the deaths of our loved ones, not as an ending, but as a continuation of life and relationships.
I ended the meditation shortly after crow made his presence known to me.
Eternity Can Wait
During my early grief, I would have welcomed my own death because it meant that I could start eternity with Jeannine sooner. I never entertained thoughts of suicide to try to make this happen, but I would have been ready to go anytime death came calling. As time went on I became less concerned about joining my daughter and more concerned about helping others as a result of the challenges presented following Jeannine’s death. I also started to become more invested with my family that Jeannine left behind. So when I was recently faced with my own mortality, I had a shift in perspective. In March of 2011 my doctor wanted to perform a biopsy to rule out prostate cancer; my lab values related to prostate health had doubled in the last year. He did believe that there was a good chance that the results would be favorable, based on his examination and other positive factors related to my case. However, given my recent past with Jeannine I knew that there were no guarantees, so I was somewhat worried. My biopsy was scheduled for May 26,2011; the nine-year anniversary of Jeannine’s biopsy results being confirmed as cancer. I was scheduled to get the results of my own biopsy on June 2,2011, nine years to the day that we got the terrible news of her prognosis at Dana Farber in Boston. I didn’t automatically view the synchronicity in Jeannine’s and my appointment dates as a sign that my biopsy was going to be negative. There was a part of me that felt history could repeat itself. So I decided to become proactive.
I took a leisurely walk outside shortly after my meeting with the doctor and stated my intent to God. This is what I said: “ Whatever your will is, so be it it, but you need to know, I am not ready for you yet, because I am enjoying my newfound relationship with Jeannine and the benefits that it has reaped. I want this to play out longer.” The results of my biopsy were negative for cancer. In addition to feeling relief, I developed some other insights about my journey: 1) Eternity could wait a little longer; 2) I had more to learn in this incarnation of myself, and more to teach, 3) I truly had an angel or angels in my corner.
I believe that the life we are destined to experience in the great beyond or afterlife is one of love and total empowerment of the spirit. Once it is decided that my time on earth has come to a close, my soul will be ready to embrace all that comes with my new existence.
“Time,” the Captain said, “is not what you think.” He sat down next to Eddie. “Dying? Not the end of everything. We think it is. But what happens on earth is only the beginning.”
Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven