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Letter From the Publisher, Maureen Hart Cary

February 2017

This month’s feature article by Linda Sechrist, “Sacred Passage: Conscious Dying as a Transformative Healing Journey,” on page 20 caringly explores how the ultimate transition can be enhanced by compassion and dignity when thoughtfully approached. Genuinely expressed care for one another—both those going on and those staying behind—is essential.

Interestingly enough, we had several local articles submitted with information and resources here in Rhode Island on this topic.  From living funerals with a gathering of one’s community where the individual with a life limiting illness is present to share in the celebration to the Grace Note Singers whose soft voices join to create a peaceful space at the bedside of the dying, death begins to bring a different vision to a seldom discussed topic. We are all going to die, and yet there is a lot of resistance in talking and thinking about it, let alone planning for it.  On page 24 in “Home Vigils”, Ann Porto tells us about the increase in popularity in the desire to choose simpler funeral options, and the assistance and support that a death midwife or dula can provide at that time.

Not to by any means compare the loss of a pet with the loss of a family member, although many do consider their pet’s part of the family, we had a situation a few years back with one of our cats that really touched us.  When Flo became ill and stopped eating at around 14 years, we brought her to the vet.  It was something with her liver, and she needed fluids. They sent us home with the medication, that we were to administer intravenously.  It would take about 10 minutes or so for the fluid to go through, Flo was rather out of it at that point and accepted it gracefully. She still wouldn’t eat, so we were filling a syringe with high protein cat food and shooting it in her mouth.  One morning feeding Flo before work, she turned her head as I had the syringe at her mouth, causing the cat food to squirt back in my face. At which point I thought – what am I doing?  Would I want someone to force-feed me?  Where is the quality of life, when you can’t even be bothered to react when someone is manually putting fluids in and you are too tired to even react?  These measures were not cures, it was her new reality.

So while it broke our hearts, it was the right thing to do. Those types of decisions carry much more clarity with distance.  When you are not personally involved, it makes perfect sense not to keep something alive with force. But when it’s a loved one, it is much harder to let go.

Life is precious and short even if we live to be 100. It’s so important to be present in every moment, focused on those who mean the most to us. Living our life with grace naturally helps us depart with grace. May we all celebrate each day and treasure the special connections that feed our soul. We hope this issue lends uplifting perspective to the personally unique journey of this sacred passage.

Peace, Maureen

Maureen Cary
RI | Natural Awakenings |  401-709-2473