Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Go If You Must; Stay If You Will. Hail And Farewell!

Denise Lee has an amazing post in Matrifocus on how we die. I find it oddly appropriate for this time of year when the trees are "dying," when the light is "dying" and when we naturally turn inward.

Deathworkers like Joan Halifax confirm what I've observed at the side of those who are dying: We can perceive the changes as the dying person says goodbye to the elements — to earth, water, fire and, lastly, air.

The element of earth is the first whose power leaves us. As earth departs, the dying person's body loses its strength and becomes thin and heavy. She may feel she is falling or sinking. Her skin begins to pale. She grows drowsy and finds it harder and harder to open her eyes. Earth is losing its ability to provide a base for consciousness, and dissolves into the element of water, bringing an image of shimmering, of a mirage.

As water leaves her, the skin, lips and eyes feel dry. She thirsts, as the waters of the body recede, and emotions move beyond her grasp. Bodily sensations dwindle, alternating between heat and cold, and she senses she is being swept away, as though by very fast water. Water is no longer able to support consciousness, and fire is taking over, bringing a vision of haze and smoke.

As the fire element burns out, she perceives the world as hot, while her skin and breath grow colder. In this phase, those close and familiar to her become unreachable. Perception is dissipating, and sight and sound become confused. The dying person has visions of sparks and fireflies as fire dissolves into air.

Finally, air loses its power, and she has more and more trouble breathing. The inbreaths become short and labored, while the outbreaths become longer. She is totally still and unaware of the outside world. Her last feeling of contact with the physical environment is slipping away; the ten winds move into her heart, inhalation and exhalation cease, and she is no longer mindful of this world.

At this point, all the elements have dissolved into the ether — the dying person is at center, and anger, illusion and ignorance cease.

How do you want to die?


More from Denise on death here.

1 comment:

Interrobang said...

How do you want to die?

Preferably not at all, but I'll settle for not being there when it happens... :)