My father passed away just two months ago. I feel as if he’s still with me. Each evening around 6:30 PM I still pause to think about calling him, as I and my three sisters and aunt did at various times of day for years. It’s nice to still think of him at that hour. Maybe he knows when I’m thinking of him lovingly.
When the fear of death has it’s grip on us, we can’t appreciate the beauty of the transition for the person who is passing. The thought of losing them is so very stressful. Once they’ve passed, we can be tortured from the loss. All of that stress and misery gets in the way of what could be a loving experience. I wanted to help my father transition as peacefully as possible. I was more comfortable with death now than I was when my husband and other loved ones had passed. We had the luxury of time to prepare my dad. My sisters, niece, their spouses and my aunt were wonderful, we each contributed in our own way.
In the three years since my husband passed, I have read dozens of books on subjects that have helped me to come to an understanding of what I believe is the human spirit and the energy of life. I believe that we (our spirit) come into our bodies and this world by choice. When we pass out of the body at death, we transition to a different level of consciousness. It’s only the human body that is born and dies, not the spirit. I see my own and everyone else’s time here on earth as a learning process. An opportunity to evolve and transition into the next place at a higher level than when we came into this life. This is the foundation that has helped me peacefully deal with the loss of my father’s physical presence.
Without going into the individual personalities that were involved, I want to tell you a few of the main things that I think helped my dad transition more peacefully than he might have. It is just our story. Each family has their own.
My dad was a very emotional man, so we knew when he was upset by something. One day a few months before he passed, while driving to a restaurant for lunch, he became sad and tears came into his eyes. I asked him what was the matter, he said, “I don’t want to leave you and I’m dying.” He told each of us how he felt from time to time, and we just talked to him as best we could until he came out of his sadness or got distracted. This time, it occurred to me that I could use an experience he had when he was a baby in Sicily. I had heard the story so many times growing up and suddenly it seemed the perfect thing to help him transition.
At around three years old my dad had encephalitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the brain and, I understand, can be fatal. He was unconscious for a least a month. The way he told the story was that he saw himself from up above his bed, looking down at himself, his mother and the doctor. His mother was crying, hysterically, because the doctor was telling her that her son, my dad, was going to die. That’s all he told us. He never talked about any details like we might hear from so many others who have had out-of-body experiences. He had been a baby and that’s all he knew.
It flashed into my mind that he might feel more comfortable about passing if he could relate that experience to the transition of dying now. I reminded him of the incident and asked him to remember that he was going to die at that time. There had been no pain and no stress in his body. But, he was a baby and didn’t want to leave his mother. He was a little boy then and if he lived he could have a good life in his young body. So he decided to stay and his spirit came back into his earthly body and became healthy again. I told him that when he did decide to let go now, when he was ready, it would be similar, he would know that he was leaving this earth, but he would decide not to come back. He was 90 years old with Parkinson’s Disease and his life was not a pleasure anymore. Of course, I told him I would miss him very much, but I would know that he wasn’t suffering anymore and that he was with me in spirit. Tough to say even now. But, like my husband, he needed to be told it was OK to decide to let go.
Not long after, he started to decline rapidly. The more he declined, the less emotional he seemed. One of my sisters and I were with him during the seventy-two hours he was “actively dying.” My niece was with us often. Another sister and her husband came from far away to say goodbye, and another who couldn’t physically make the trip, spoke to my dad on the phone several times even after he was not conscious anymore. We didn’t involve my aunt at this point, it would have been too hard on her. That was a difficult phone call to make after he passed.
The seventy-two hours was so long and unexpected. During that time my sister, who was a nursing assistant, and the caregiver at the house where my dad lived took care of him physically. Together we maintained communication with him as much as possible. I believe he was aware of everything going on and we respected that he would know everything being said and done for him. We talked to him as we would have if he were conscious, in a way. I believe we helped him let go as peacefully as possible. He certainly knew he was loved.
Everyone’s situation is different, but, I believe that sharing our stories can help others when the time comes that they need to draw on their knowledge and strength. I hope this story helps others who will spontaneously come up with their own ideas to help their loved ones pass.