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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“
Yes, truly sad and very touching. I do experienced the same emotional experience losing my wife due to cancer. She passed away infront of me…The pain of seeing her go is still here…
Thank you so much for your comment, Wan, and I’m so sorry for your loss.
The last moment was pretty intense for me, too. However, what he showed me told me that he was ready to go and wanted to be free from the physical pain. Also, somehow, I know he is now in a good place where there is no drama or attachment. That helped me tremendously let him go on all levels.
May your pain be healed with ease and grace.
Thank you again for sharing your experience!
In love & gratitude,
I believe with whatever we do at the end of the day, finding happiness is what people have always been looking for. But often got caught up with working that pretty much ignore the relationship, very disappointed.
You shared a very sensitive topic but I do commend you for the things you did to forgive yourself. I do belief that death isn’t a bad thing though we wish that we could live forever but that isn’t possible.
I have never experienced watching anyone transit to other side. I have always had the information later but your story does give me a lot to think about and I agree that forgiveness is the key to be at peace and calm.
Thanks for sharing. Take Care
Thank you so much for taking some time to write a comment!
In love & gratitude,
Thank you so much Keiko for sharing your moving story about your father.
I think we should all be able to talk more openly about death – after all, it’s the one thing that is, without exception, going to happen to us all. I’ve lost three close family members in the space of 18 months (my father, uncle and my favourite uncle, who passed on the day this article was posted), so the last transition of life has been very much on my mind lately.
It is never easy to lose those we love, but I also believe, not for any religious reasons, that death is just another part of the journey, and isn’t the end. I love that your father wrote “Live well, and die well.” I will always remember that, so thank you again for sharing.
Thank you so much for taking some time to write the comment, and I’m so sorry for your losses.
I’m very glad that this post got to support you in any way it could.
Like you said, death is a part of a journey that’s going on forever. At least I believe so. Once you accept death like that and start living your life fully, there is nothing to feel scared or sad about death even for those who are left behind… well, that’s probably an ideal situation. But we can get closer to that, and I think the first thing we can do is to start talking more openly about it just like you said.
Thank you so much, K.J., for your beautiful insight! May your loved ones’ spirits rest in peace and freedom!
In love & gratitude,
Keiko, Thank you for sharing your profound and personal story with us of the death of your father. Your words were uplifting and inspirational, reminding us to celebrate life instead of mourning death.
Death can come in many ways, anticipated, such as your father’s, or sudden. In either case we must do our best to make sure that those who pass can rest in peace and loved one left behind are comforted.
The message of this post is touching and comforting. We all have to face death at some point. Hopefully many of us will do it better because of your guidance here. Many blessings to you and your family, Keiko.
Thank you so much for your appreciation! It means a lot to me.
When my mother passed away, I was five years old. Because I was so young that I couldn’t understand at all what was going on. 35 years later, my father gave me the full experience through his own death. Like you said, celebrating life right here and right now is the key to living your life fully, and that enriches everyone’s life including your and their last transition of life as well.
Thank you again, Carolyn, for taking some time to share your beautiful insights!
In love & gratitude,
This was quite emotional reading for me…for I too have lost someone very precious and dear to me at the hands of death…then, it wasn’t easy to let go and accept the fact that she had transisted to glory.
However, after a year of her demise, I am beginning to accept the fact and instead, devote my emerges in praying for the repose of her beautiful soul.
Thank you for sharing this piece – it positively touched me and gave me the much needed help to push on.
May your dad – and all the good souls departed, continue to rest in peace.
Thank you so much for taking some time to share your experience!
I believe taking a little while for your emotion to calm down enough to face her transition is a completely natural thing and also a necessary process. How courageous of you to start letting go of your loved one! And I’m very happy to hear that my experience can be your help.
Thank you so much for your kind words, and yes, may your loved one and all the souls who departed rest in peace.
In love & gratitude,
I had the same experience when my dad passed on back in 2008. His death shook me hard and drained me. But unlike you, Keiko, I was filled with anger. At first when my dad passed on, days went by without me crying out or sharing my feelings. I had bipolar disorder, and I’m an introvert who like to keep things to myself.
Days went by, everyone had started to move on and I thought the same would happen. Unfortunately, I was wrong. When the memories of my time with my dad as the last child caught up with me, I broke down and wept. Instead of the feeling of sorrow, I felt angry that my dad had to die so soon and I was left with bitterness.
So I completely relate with you, handling the death of a loved one is hard, but it can also be easy when you prepare before it happens.
Thanks for sharing this. It’s so helpful.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience!
I think I was lucky that I had months to prepare myself. There are some situations that are not possible for you to prepare yourself such as accidents or sudden deaths.
Even so, I mean even after your loved one is gone, you still can send him or her off by feeling the emotions out, forgiving him or her and yourself, and letting him or her go. And I think this is what you did after your father’s death.
May your father’s soul rest in peace and freedom!
Thank you again for your sharing, Tessa!
In love & gratitude,
I am not good at expressing my feelings in such tragic moments…
I am sure your dad is happy in the heaven and seeing you in power that you shared all of these with us..
May he always remain happy in his eternal life and may GOD bless you all, amen!
Thank you so much for your comment and heartwarming thoughts for my father!
I,too, am sure that he is happy up there and enjoying the freedom.
Thank you again, Adeel!
In love & gratitude,
Hello Harleena and Vinay,
Thank you so much for having my post here on AHA! Now!! I really appreciate it.
Since it’s a very sensitive and personal topic, I hesitated a few days to pitch, but I thought sharing this can benefit some people.
It took me a lot of courage to click the send button, but now, I’m really grateful to you both for having space for my dad’s gift here. So, thank you so much!
In love & gratitude,
It is overwhelming. Your pain is far reaching as I could visualize you and your family through the journey. How does one prepare to say goodbye to a loved one; is it even possible? I know it is difficult, but possible. Dad passed away due to Alzheimer’s 3 years ago , was bed-ridden for a month before his last breath. When I saw him in the last stages, staring away, a lifetime of memories lost and more, I prepared myself for his final transition. Even as I write this, my heart is breaking and eye well up. Me, Mom and my sister had to be strong and let go of him so he could be relieved of the pain and suffering.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment.
Yes, it takes a lot of energy and courage to prepare yourself for your loved one’s last moment, especially when he or she is going through suffering, and you can’t do anything about it. The sadness and grief are overwhelming, but I believe that is why forgiveness and letting go are very important. I’ve been still forgiving him and myself whenever his old pattern that’s engrained in me comes up. I think it’s a lifetime process.
As I was writing this post, tear kept welling up my eyes, but in a good way, grateful way, because the more I forgive, the more love and gratitude toward Dad becomes available. I hope the same thing goes for you, too.
May your Dad’s soul rest in peace.
In love & gratitude,
As I read the title, I wanted to comment a lot of things, my personal experience in this section has not been good.
But, I guess no words now. What you did was what I expect everyone to do but it seems impossible.
May your dad’s soul rest in peace.
Thank you so much for taking a time to comment on this sensitive topic!
I guess I was very lucky that I was able to have months to prepare myself, and Dad, too, was preparing himself. I’m pretty sure that those two factors made it easier for me to have this experience.
Having said that, I don’t think it’s impossible for anybody to do the same thing. Not that I’m saying that everyone should do my way, but I believe that forgiving your loved one who is dying or has already passed away and yourself is the best and healthiest way to free the relationship and leave only love between you two.
Thank you so much for the very heartwarming words for my dad.
In love & gratitude,