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When you hear this word, what is your reaction to it? Do you feel scared? Do you want not to think about it? Or, do you pretend that it’s not going to happen to you?
I used to feel scared of death because of all the images and feelings that many of us have such as the end of everything, the color of black, the coldness, the emptiness, the nothingness…
Now, the way I feel about it is completely changed. I can embrace it. I even look forward to it, because I had an amazing experience through my Dad’s death.
His last transition, the last three and a half months of his time that he gave me, turned out to be his best gift for me.
He taught me to live well and die well.
Why I Started to Prepare Myself for My Dad’s Death
At the beginning of June 2009, my Dad’s tongue cancer came back and had to have surgery. Both the surgery and recovery went pretty well, probably because he was very determined that he and Mom would visit me in California at the end of the month.
I was a little worried about his condition during the trip. The 10-hour flight from Japan and the jet lag would not be easy on his body. However, when I saw my parents at the airport, the worry was gone immediately. He looked vibrant and happy.
Since I’m a craniosacral therapist, I gave both of them sessions to ease their jet lag. That was when I found that Dad’s ankles had an edema, which meant his kidney function was not good. I sensed that he didn’t have much time left.
Letting Go with Forgiveness – When Meditation and Bodywork Sessions Come in Handy
Since then, I started to prepare myself for my Dad’s last transition, because I wanted it to be as smooth as possible without any emotional attachments or regrets between us. I also believed that that would be the only thing and best thing I could do for him.
I dug deep into myself and went back all the way to my youngest memories focusing on the relationship between my Dad and me. Whatever came up, I set an intention to let it go. Anger, sadness, his beliefs, his patterns…, so many things that I inherited from him and buried in me without noticing came up to the surface.
Do you know what the best situation is for you to release all those negative feelings and patterns?
The answer is when you are deeply relaxed physically, emotionally, and mentally like when you meditate or receive a bodywork session.
When you meditate, the Divine, the God, the Universe, the Source, whatever you call it, holds space for your whole system so your personality aspect can relax and let go. If you don’t meditate, go and receive a good, relaxing bodywork session. Your practitioner holds space for you so you can let go totally on all levels.
So, that’s what I did. I meditated every day and received an energy work session every week with the intention of forgiveness. For two months, I kept letting go and forgiving both my Dad and myself.
The more I forgave, the more understanding and appreciation became available to me.
Also, I started to appreciate the fact that my Dad was doing his best, and he always wanted happiness for me. It’s just that he couldn’t understand that his happiness and my happiness weren’t exactly the same. So, I decided to accept only his love and let go of the rest.
In September, his condition got worse suddenly. It became harder for Mom to take care of him by herself, she decided to hospitalize him.
I kept meditating and having the energy work sessions during September and felt prepared for his last moment. It was time for me to go back to Japan to help Mom take care of Dad.
Two days before I was leaving, I let my clients know my situation, prepared some meals for my husband while I was gone, and was done with the packing. I was ready.
Then, Mom called me in the evening and told me that Dad’s condition got much worse. So, I decided to leave a day earlier than I planned and also told my sister and her family, who also live in California, to come to Japan at their earliest possible time.
I was a little amazed at the timing. At the same time, I knew he, too, was ready.
“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore
The Last Moment – The Most Beautiful Moment I’ve Ever Experienced
When I got to the hospital late at night, my Dad was completely bedridden, couldn’t speak, eat nor drink because of the tumor at the throat. However, as soon as he noticed me, he smiled and gave me a big hug.
Since his condition was already terminally ill, all the doctor could do was to give him painkillers and make him as comfortable as possible. All the doctors and nurses were so kind and caring. He really appreciated their kindness and care.
I spent the night in his room with Mom so she could have a little nap. That was the only time the jet lag was useful.
The next day, he was moved into the hospice care wing of the hospital where the care he received got even more excellent and gentler than the previous room.
Also, my sister, her husband, and their 7-year-old daughter joined us. Dad was so happy to see his granddaughter. The whole family got together at his bedside.
The following morning, as I went through the hospital entrance, a feeling came to me, “Dad is going to die today.”
That feeling was right. His breathing became harder and harder in the afternoon. The doctor and nurses came, and we had to wait in the hallway while they were examining him.
Then, a nurse came out and told us that we should call the rest of our family. So I called my sister resting with her family at home at the time and told her to come to the hospital as soon as possible.
I went back in his room. Though he wasn’t conscious anymore, I said to him, “I just called my sister, and they are coming here in 20 minutes, but you don’t have to wait if you don’t want to suffer anymore.”
I think he REALLY wanted to see us all before he went. He kept hard breathing and stayed unconscious, but I was able to feel, almost see, his spirit was floating over him with a thin, energetic cord attached to his body. Although his body was going through the intense moments of ending his life, I believe he wasn’t feeling any of the struggle.
Then, my sister and her family rushed into the room. As soon as the door opened, and his granddaughter called to him, “Grandpa!” the energetic cord I was feeling disappeared, he had a nice long breath, and he was gone.
I felt deep sorrow for about 10 seconds as he had his last breath, but after that, I was so sure that the last transition of his life went smoothly. Somehow, happy and content feeling filled me. I was completely calm and peaceful.
That was the most beautiful and powerful experience with Dad. I am so grateful to him for letting me have an ultimate experience.
I also believe that all the inner work I had done before I went back to Japan allowed me to have this precious experience with him. So, I’m grateful for all the sessions, the healer who gave me wonderful sessions and insights, and the Divine guidance.
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~ Norman Cousins
Three Years Forward
My sister and I went back to Japan again to help Mom moving into an apartment. While we were sorting things out, I found that Dad was preparing himself for his last moment as well. He read many books about dying well. Also, Mom and I found his Japanese calligraphy works in his desk drawer saying, “Live well, and die well.”
All those wonderful experiences enriched my life tremendously. Like the saying, “We are dying every moment” and my Dad’s calligraphy, “Live well, and die well,” I now live my life fully.
I’ve been pursuing what I want in my life sincerely. I work with my fear, old beliefs, negative emotions, and attachments every time they come up so I can live my most fulfilled life and embrace the last moment of my life as my Dad did whenever the time comes.
The closer the relationship, the more complicated emotions and patterns you tend to carry, and they become attachments between you and your loved one.
The attachments can make your loved ones suffer longer at the end of his or her life and your regrets bigger, but remember that the attachments can be great lessons and opportunities for you to evolve and live your life fully once you start to face them.
So, don’t wait until the last moment of anyone’s lives including yours. Actually, it doesn’t matter whether your loved ones are with you physically or not. Start your own inner work today. Forgive and let go. Forgiveness is the key. It can free both you and your loved one. Be free!
And death is not a scary thing. It is just another transition, very beautiful one.
Death – the last sleep?
No, it is the final awakening.
~ Walter Scott
Over to You
I know this is a pretty heavy topic for some people, but I would love to know your insights and experiences. Please share them in the comment section.
Read another post by Keiko Katsuta – “5 Fun Ways to Deal with Toxic Emotions and Thoughts“