Right at the moment, I’m feeling a little surrounded by death. I’m in Boston for an indeterminate period of time accompanying my grandfather on his journey towards death. As I wrote yesterday, Paul Bingman, a friend and amazing person died on Sunday, and I’m having conversations with various folks about planning a memorial service for him (something I know more about than most folks, being involved in several funerals a year in a professional way).
I’m coming to a conclusion. Dying is hard work. I don’t know how hard it is for the one actually doing the dying (though it looks pretty rough, and on the basis of my observations I really wouldn’t recommend it). But for those of us involved in ancillary ways, it takes a toll, both physical and emotional. I know this sounds awfully flip for a post ab out death and dying, but sometimes, humor is all one has to hold things together.
For the past couple of days I’ve been beginning to think about a prayer (or meditation, if you prefer) to be said before entering a space where someone is dying (or in hospice). So far, I’ve gotten this far:
Here I am, prepared to accompany ___________ on their final journey. As I spend time with him/her let me be there for him/her, not for myself. May I answer them in the ways that are best for him/her, not those that are easiest or most comfortable for me. May my presence bring us both peace.
As the task becomes harder, may I remain equal to the task. And when I am not, may I forgive myself, knowing that what I do is hard work, and impossible to do perfectly.
May the time I spend with __________ be as meaningful and enjoyable as it can be for both of us.
It’s not perfect. It’s not exactly what needs to be said. But it’s a start.
May the source of comfort grant peace to all those who seek it.