To Tell, Or Not To Tell The Children, There’s No Question

It is our job as parents to protect, nurture, and guide our children into whole human beings. It is our responsibility to do this to the best of our ability. If we do it right, the parenting role will take us outside our comfort zone more often than it doesn’t. Sometimes stretching us into improved versions barely resembling the old.

We know it isn’t best to take the easy way out and give in to whining, or temper tantrums, or tears when enforcing bedtime, curfew, or homework. We establish house rules and expect there will be resistance in the teen through young adult years, while we live under the same roof. Still, we know that it is best not to give in just because they will be upset.

That same truth appears here – where we are talking about a parent’s terminal diagnosis or life-limiting illness.

Navigating the rocky terrain of life-limiting illness and terminal diagnosis is a challenge none of us fantasize about. Most don’t spend time thinking about how to handle such a situation in advance. There’s no play book, no manual, and certainly no instruction sheet for reference. When it comes to our kids, though, we have to get it right – and we only have one chance. What we give them during this time will shape who them become as adults.

“We’re Not Telling The Children”

If this is you, this your fear talking. You want to keep things as they are, falsely, in an effort to deny what is happening. In an effort to hold on to yesterday for one more day. But it isn’t fair to your children.

I know you think you are doing the right thing, but you are doing the easy thing. There is nothing on Earth harder than breaking your child’s heart. You tell yourself you are doing the right thing, by delaying that broken heart as long as you can. What you are really doing though is postponing that broken heart until such time as you are either gone, or too weak to be able to support their processing.

You don’t tell the children so you won’t have to deal with their pain – not so they won’t have to deal with yours…that’s not what we do as parents.

Now is when you’re children need to know. Not tomorrow or next week, because I promise you tomorrow, or next week, or the week after will bring the day you most dread when it will be too late.

Tell them when you are diagnosed. Let them be a part of your healthcare and support team. Including them early on prevents them from being at the ‘can’t we do something stage’ when you’ve already determined there isn’t. You don’t have to have all the answers when you tell them. The fact you let them in on the process will allow them to deal with whatever comes along.

You are leaving them and that is inconceivable. However, they are going to have to live a whole lifetime without you. They are going to need every second possible to grasp that and to gain the tools necessary to make it through some important milestones and intense challenges.

They will feel powerless in all this – much like you – so give them opportunities to feel empowered. Give small children small jobs, like being “Mom’s water pitcher manager”. Give older children tasks that play to their strengths like making Dad’s favorite play list or a favorite sandwich. Allow them to feel they serve a purpose in supporting you.

Give them space to process and opportunities to express their fears, feelings and faith. They will need help navigating these emotional waters, give them as much time possible to do that by telling them as soon as possible. They need you, now more than ever, in order to cope with losing you. After all who better to teach them?

When you keep the truth from children you deny them the maximum time possible to process their anticipatory grief and to cherish their time with you.

“They’re Too Young To Know What’s Going On”

No child is ever too young to know when something is changing. Even infants are affected by grief, as they pick up on the emotions and energy in the environment and in their caregivers. They will need extra soothing, comforting and nurturing to calm their distress. Infants and toddlers need extra physical comforting because they cannot process linguistically yet. They might need to be held more. They might need extra reassurance about mundane things. They’ll need to sleep more. They’ll need you to honestly deal with your own feelings because they will sense the discord if you are not.

The older the child the more aware they will be of the non-verbal cues in the household. No, your three year old will not process the same information as your sixteen year old. They still need to be part of the process, though.

Why Tell Them When It’s Only Going To Hurt Them?

Because every child knows the temperature in their own house. Every child I’ve ever worked with, knew things were bad long before the divorce papers were filed. Yet, every parent felt so sure that ‘the children didn’t know anything’. So, many children end up in therapy for ‘behavior problems’ only to find out they are lost in an emotional forest because they experience congruence: “I sense something is wrong, but everyone says it’s all fine.” The truth of their experience clashes with the lies of adults and creates chaos internally. If you ever wondered how ‘gaslighting’ got it’s start, here it is.

If this is true, then it is more true when a parent is terminally ill. Our children are comprised of our blood and DNA. They know things about us. They know when we are not being honest and truthful. They know when we don’t feel well. And most of all they know when we are afraid.

It’s more than ok to share that with them – it is necessary for their emotional wellbeing.

When we are diagnosed we are not the only ones…everyone else in our life receives the diagnosis as well.

When we don’t share the truth with others we take away their rights. Yes. Their rights. Their right to support us as they desire. Their right to take care of us like we’ve taken care of them. Their right to have as much time possible to process feelings and anticipatory grief. Their right to share this experience with us. Their right to their own experience of our dying and death.

When we don’t share truth with others we take their freedom. The freedom to choose how to say good-bye, how to spend their time, and how to grieve. We rob them of the opportunity that comes with time, too. The opportunity to share the words on our hearts, to make lasting memories, and to bear witness to and for one another.

When we keep the truth from children we are not shielding them, we are isolating them.

If you or your spouse has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or has received a terminal prognosis, you and your kids have already been dealt a crappy hand. Don’t make it worse by stealing precious time from one another because it is painful. It’s going to be painful no matter what. You can’t control the wounding, but you can control the bleeding, so to speak. Every decision you make regarding sharing, or not sharing, the truth with your kids impacts them in one of two ways: either helping the healing process or complicating the grieving.

Here’s something else.

Tell the children because they already know. And if they already know, then they also know you aren’t telling them the truth. And if they know you aren’t telling them the truth, they can’t trust you to tell them truth in the future.

And that is the most damage you can inflict in a parent/child relationship.

We cannot protect our children from a diagnosis. We can only help to arm them with appropriate tools to come through this to the other side.

This loss is something they will walk with the rest of their lives. It is important we do this one thing right because there are no do-overs. We only get one chance to say good-bye.

Jade

Holistic Support Specialist, Interfaith Minister, First Responder Chaplain, Shaman, Energy Healer, Licensed Social Worker (ret)

The ACTS Of Empowerment

ACTS of Empowerment

One of the scariest situations we can be in, is the one where we are not in control. This time in our country’s timeline will go down as one of the scariest of all; A time when we had to physically separate from loved ones for fear of a life threatening invader.

In truth though, death is always in our cards, we simply have chosen to exist in denial about it. COVID-19 is forcing us to consider our mortality and that of our loved ones. Everything about COVID has taught us we are not in control of anything outside ourselves. We are not in control of what our government, our neighbors, our employers, the healthcare system or the virus does. We can only control our own thoughts, actions and beliefs in any given situation.

When we don’t feel in control, we don’t feel empowered. The problem is not the lack of control. The problem is 1) thinking we were in control of things we weren’t and 2) not exerting control over the things we were.

These four acts of empowerment are useful across the board of our lives. It is important to look at this because fear is a very dangerous symptom of any crisis. And if you take the time now to come to some sort of terms with your own mortality, I promise you, it will change the way you live your life after this crisis is over.

Empowerment is the anti-dote for fear.

Empowerment is an inside job. I don’t believe in beings empowering other beings. We are empowered from the second Life is Breathed into us. Throughout our lives we discover more and better ways of accessing and demonstrating our power, and THAT is something that others can support us in…but no one else actually empowers us.

Acceptance

The first act of empowerment is Acceptance. To accept what is, as is. Dissonance happens when we are in resistance to what is, by looking back to what was. In today’s happenings we ask ‘when will things return to normal?” But normal is gone. Normal is attachment to yesterday. Yesterday we had a plan and today that plan is no longer viable.

We need to embrace today there is something new at work and we haven’t yet figured out what it is. That’s ok. It’s ok to stand in the not knowing. In fact, that is what we must do to get into acceptance. We have to also acknowledge that we have grief over the loss of yesterday’s plan. Not having a ‘normal’ is a loss and grief is the emotional reaction to that loss.
To get to acceptance we must embrace what is, even if what is feels like being ‘stuck in the mud’. It’s ok to sit still in the mud for a minute. Embrace that. Accept that. Attachment to how things used to be keeps us in dissonance. Dissonance and acceptance are mutually exclusive. Resonance breeds acceptance. So, pay attention to what resonates with you at your highest level.

You don’t have to like something to accept it.

That’s key. Just like forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone someone’s behavior, so too, just because you accept something doesn’t mean you like it. Acceptance just means you are in the present moment, understanding it as reality. You are no longer trying to change the moment back to what was yesterday. You are also not looking to tomorrow hoping to recreate yesterday. That’s another key. You take what is today and see what you can do with it even if you are not its biggest fan.

The place of acceptance is resonance while the place of resistance is dissonance. The more you follow resonance the more empowered you will feel. Acceptance resonates at a high level. Even if you don’t like what you have to accept, accepting it will be more resonant than remaining in a state of resistance. Acceptance does not mean you don’t want to effect change upon the circumstance. Acceptance of the situation in its entirety enables you to make necessary and valuable changes.

You will know you’ve entered a state acceptance when you can at least say ‘Ok FINE! Now what?’ Resignation is a form of acceptance.

Connection

The second act of empowerment is connection. When we feel disempowered we feel isolated and vice verse, so it stands to reason that the anti-dote to that would be connection.

You might be thinking this is quite the challenge during this quarantine lockdown we are in, but you would be wrong. The kind of connection we are seeking here is actually something that has been missing for a long time, yet within everyone’s grasp.

Many are talking about ‘when this is over we will return to normal’. Others are saying that the normal that once was will never be again. And I hope that is true. Our normal was seeing a gathering of individuals, most of which were on their phones or other devices. Now, when connecting via devices is the only life line, we are beginning to understand how much we took face to face for granted.

The connectedness we are talking about though in regards to empowerment is the connection to something bigger than ourselves. This does include connecting to the love that we have for family and friends, however it has to also include something bigger than that. Whatever your Source is for Love and Light. The All. Whatever name All goes by for you: Allah, Jesus, God, Mother Earth, Goddess it doesn’t matter. Whatever you feel is a higher consciousness or a bigger energetic body than you.

Where do you connect to that Source? Church? Well, where else can be your church now? A backyard meditation garden is a wonderful start! Out in nature is an easy one, because everyone ‘believes’ in nature! Nature works its magical wonders of connection on you whether you realize it or not. If you don’t have a backyard then find a county or city park that offers you some natural habitat. If you can find a body of water, even better.

Other ways to connect to Source is to create a small altar in your home and sit with it for awhile. You can meditate, or pray, or do rituals, or say spells…they are all basically the same thing. You might have been conditioned to be afraid of one or more of those words but honestly they are all containers for the same energy.

How do you make an altar? Simple version: cover a small table with the scarf or hanky of a loved one and place a candle on top. You can get as elaborate as you want from there by adding fresh flowers, dried herbs, crystals, family pictures, sage, incense, bowl of water, images, icons, rosaries, prayer beads, malas, statues etc…

Whatever makes you happy and adds to your connection to Source.

Spending just 15 mins a day in quiet solitude in front of your altar will offer you a wonderful connection.

Connection to something bigger than you gives you power to handle the situation you are in. It isn’t really a belief system thing. It is an energetic feeling. You can’t believe it into being. You can’t speak it into being. You have to practice it into being.

Transmutation

The third act of empowerment is transmutation. The transmutation process changes something from one form into another form. In this case, transmutation is the act of changing negative into positive, and changing negative to positive is the basic premise of empowerment.

Beginner empaths are often taught to ‘block’ or ‘guard’ their energetic fields in order to protect them. This is a necessary step in learning how to manage energy, however it is not a landing place.

When we block and guard we do nothing to improve the situation. We simply allow the less than desirable energy to remain in the environment and affect the next person who comes along. Don’t believe me? How often have you walked into a room where an argument had ensued and ‘the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife’? Now, if someone had transmuted that energy then no one else would walk in and feel that.

Developing the skill to transmute negative heavy energy into positive light energy is an important evolution in any energy healer or empath. However, even non-empaths and those without an interest in energy healing need to engage in transmutation. It is simply a matter of not adding fuel to a fire.

When someone comes at you with negativity or aggression, you respond in neutralizing opposition. Which means, you don’t respond with negativity or aggression, but with compassion and assertiveness.

It means not perpetuating the situation, as well as not escalating it. Phrases like “I understand what you are saying.” “I hear you.” “Maybe we can talk later.” “That sounds really painful.” “I can see you are really hurting.”

This doesn’t imply one allows bad behavior to continue. It dictates use of compassion to help the other feel supported so that they can change their own behavior. When efforts to do this fail, it is advisable to extricate oneself from the situation and circle back to the person at another time if desired.

If you can’t practice transmutation then you must at least refrain from contributing to the heavy energy.

A wonderful side effect of this practice happens automatically. You will find yourself lighter, with less stress and feeling more emotionally stable. Indeed, you will find yourself empowered.

Becoming skilled in transmutation you ultimately leave the world in a better state than you found it.

Surrender

Surrender is often defined as giving up, but that is not the spirit of Surrender. The spirit of surrender is to cease resistance. The essential art of going with the flow, instead of swimming against the tide.

Surrender realizes that forcing something is a sign that whatever ‘it’ is, is not for you at this time. Releasing the need to control outcomes, is the swiftest way to surrender. It isn’t that you give up on your goal, it is that you realize you might have mixed up your goal with one possible outcome, which is in fact, not a goal but merely one possibility. In other words, your goal might be making THIS relationship the one to end all relationships, when in fact that is one possibility for the actual goal, which is to be in a relationship that serves you.

Surrendering will be understanding that the best way to meet your goal would be to let go of the relationship that seems to want to end rather than pulling out all the stops to keep it in play.

Surrendering requires us to evaluate obstacles when they show up. Obstacles on our path serve two purposes: cause to pause and redirection. Cause to pause, is an opportunity to really take stock of what is happening. Is it for our highest good? Is this what I want? Usually this obstacle simply gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves ‘why?’ Why do I want this? Why do I feel this is in my highest good? And to ask ‘is this worth it?’ then really listen for the answer. If it isn’t making you feel better OR making you a better human being (cause sometimes that process doesn’t feel so great initially), it isn’t worth it.

After such pondering it is easy to see that sometimes a change of direction is warranted. When you ask ‘is this worth it’? And answer ‘no’, then you must switch directions. Take the opportunity to redefine your goal to make sure it is a goal and not just one possible outcome. Restate your goal. Envision it. Then choose the new path to get there.

Surrender is not about giving up, it is about leveling up. It’s about Trusting your Higher Self and Divine Grace to get you where you want to go. In surrendering we feel more empowerment because we understand that the Universe is conspiring on our behalf, rather than believing we are all alone against the world. We no longer believe that we have to be in control of everything, because in fact, we cannot.

The ACTS (Acceptance, Connection, Transmutation, Surrender) can be used in any situation to develop your Empowerment. Apply it to work, life, problem, challenge, parenting, encounters with bullies and other crabby people as necessary.

If nothing else remember that empowerment is an inside job.

Peace Be With You,

Jade

A Dialogue About Death

Every story ever written has a beginning, middle and an end. Every author considers the end when first sitting down to write a storyline; However in the greatest story an individual will ever author, the end is often left unscripted.

We can’t write death in on our calendars and begin to plan when it seems ‘timely’. On the day we are born our death is written onto our calendar in invisible ink.

Modern day society chooses to approach death as if acknowledging it is morbid, preparing for it hastens it and accepting it is giving up.

Talking about your end of life care preferences when death is a remote possibility, supports decision making about end of life care when death is a probability, and promotes healthy coping during end of life when death becomes an inevitability.

In December 1974, my uncle was home from his work as a missionary priest in the Amazon, when an aortic aneurysm ruptured and he died in his sleep. I was nine years old, in the kitchen, as the discussion of burial arrangements took place and there was question about where he should be laid to rest. I said I knew where he wanted to be buried.

Every year my uncle hosted our family reunion on the grounds of the Villa Redeemer Monastery in Glenview, Illinois. On this property was a small cemetery and on one of our walks through the grounds that summer, my uncle told me he would someday be laid to rest there.

Because he shared that with me, I was able to share that with my mother. It was a small conversation that made a big difference to my mother in her grief.

Perhaps because my grandmother grew up on a farm where death was recognized as a part of life; Perhaps because my mother’s brother died at four years of age; Perhaps because my mother grew up during WWII; Perhaps because my own father died when I was three…perhaps for all these reasons, death was not a taboo subject in my house growing up, nor has it ever been a taboo subject in my own home as an adult.

Embracing mortality has emotionally prepared me to make life and death decisions in unexpected moments. This preparation does not make decision making easier – it does however, make it less complicated.

When we live in denial of mortality we create an illusion that creates complications during times of crisis. It requires that our psyche do some serious catching up in very little time, and oftentimes there isn’t enough time to actually catch up.

The internal dialogues might look like this:

Prepared: (death is a real possibility) “No. No. NO! I can’t believe this is happening. I knew this day would one day come, but today? I’m not ready. I’ll never be ready. I can’t make these decisions. I don’t want to make these decisions. We talked about what to do, but I don’t want to.”

*breath*

This isn’t about me. It’s about Mom and living life on her terms. It’s so hard to imagine this, but Mom has always been clear about what she wants.”

(death is a probability) “I don’t want to believe that I have to do this, but I know what Mom wants. She’s told me all along. She doesn’t want to merely exist. She doesn’t want to be on machines. She doesn’t want to be a burden. She wants to live life on her terms. If she can’t be an independent active participant in life, she said she didn’t want to prolong her death. She prepared me for this, but my heart is breaking.

*breath*

I don’t want her to suffer for me. I want her to be peace-filled.

(death is inevitable) “I’m sorry Mom for the things I did that hurt you. Please forgive me, hurting you was never my intention. Thank you, for teaching me what friendship means. I forgive you, for all the things I was ever angry about. I love you.”

*breath*

Mom, it’s ok to let go, if you need to. I’m here. I’m right here.”

(death comes)

Unprepared: (death is a real possibility) “No. No. No. No. NO! I won’t believe it! We have to keep fighting. You have to keep fighting, Mom. You are a survivor! You got this! Yes, keep her alive at all costs. Don’t give up on her. It isn’t her time yet. I’m not ready yet.”

There has to be something else we can try. Why is she getting worse instead of better? What are you doing?! Why aren’t you helping her?”

(death is a probability) “Mom, I know you are tired and suffering but you have to keep fighting. This isn’t over yet. You still have so much to do. I need you. Your grandchildren need you. I am not prepared to say goodbye so you have to keep fighting, ok?”

You are not a quitter! Don’t you give up on me!”

(death is inevitable) “I can’t believe this is happening. I knew this day would one day come, but today? I’m not ready.

I’ll never be ready.”

(death comes)

I didn’t even have the chance to say good bye…”

Preparation is not morbid. It does not hasten death. It needs to be seen as the natural order of authoring our lives.

Just as preparation does not manifest death, it also does not guarantee the circumstances of our death. We cannot foresee details, but we can verbalize the atmosphere we’d like it to have. Because at birth our death is already added to our ‘to do list’, it is appropriate to have ongoing open conversations about what we might want to include and exclude from that atmosphere.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic our mortality has never been more undeniable. Take this opportunity to begin having conversations, exploring your fears, beliefs and hopes about your own death. Tell your loved ones what your preferences are to ease their emotional burden when the time does come. Your loved ones may not have certain choices regarding your end of life care, but at least they will have your Voice as guidance in making the really tough ones.

It may not come during this pandemic – we all hope that is true – but clearly, death is happening all around us now. We might still live in fear of it, but we can no longer deny the possibility, probability and inevitability of our mortality.

It is in embracing the existence of our death that our best living begins.

Pandemic Traumatic Grief

To a certain degree there is trauma in every loss, whether it is the unexpectedness of it, the suffering of it, the impact of it, the violence of it or the massiveness of it. Every loss has an element of trauma to it.

It is the magnitude of the event that makes it traumatic.

As a three year old, I woke in the middle of the night due to a loud noise and ran into my parent’s room for solace. Instead, I found my father lying tangled in the bedsheets on the floor. I didn’t understand what I was seeing. To me he was sleeping on the floor, so I tried my three year old best to wake him up. Shaking him and calling his name and telling him to wake up. When that didn’t work, I ran into my grandmother’s room, woke her up and told her ‘something’s wrong with Daddy’.

Traumatic grief.

What made it worst is that no one ever talked with me about it. I didn’t speak for three days and did not say the words ‘good bye’ again, that I remember. I suppose their thought was that I was three and was too young to remember. Yet, at fifty-five I still remember it as clearly today as I did that night.

Traumatic grief.

The common experience of devastating natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, earth quakes and tsunamis is that what was absolutely known one moment is absolutely gone in the next. The landscape of our lives, our homes and our city skylines are completely destroyed and eliminated – physically and emotionally.

Traumatic grief.

September 11, 2001 when the first plane struck the twin towers in New York City, New York, USA, there was grief…”How could this awful accident happen?” Before we could even process that grief, the second plane hit and the question turned to a statement, “This was on purpose.” As the following two planes were identified as part of the plan, the new revelation brought more grief.

Traumatic grief.

With the realization that there would be more recovery than rescue, our trauma compounded. With the information that insurance companies did not cover ‘terrorist attacks’, our trauma compounded. With each last voicemail messages shared, our trauma compounded.

Traumatic grief.

Today a biological siege is upon us.

We are at the mercy of an enemy we cannot see, but who’s damage is leaving bodies in bags and crushing spirits. We panic at the subtlest of symptoms because information is nebulous at best, ever changing at worst. The emotional, mental, financial and social landscape of our lives has changed almost overnight.

Unlike weather related natural disasters we have no visual evidence of destruction available on the news to help us move from the initial denial stage of grief. While in denial, we can’t possibly make the right decisions to ‘stay safe, stay home’, because we are still reaching back for the life that so swiftly disappeared. It is almost as if we see the old life before us and we struggle to realize we are looking at a memory.

Others who are not in denial, those who are in an anger stage, see these choices as irresponsible and stupid. They will blame those in denial for the ongoing worsening of the situation. The anger stage causes increased bullying, trolling and arguing. This compounds trauma.

We find ourselves bargaining ‘too little, too late’ into our new reality. We stay home from work, but make needless trips out into the community. We stop hugging and shaking hands, but hold parties in the park. Still in the throws of denial we attempt to create a reality that is less dissimilar from our ‘before’ reality, than what currently is. This often looks to others like we just refuse to follow the rules. And it might be true, but this is grief and everyone follows grief in their own way, in their own time. You can’t mandate people to move through grief faster than they can.

As the new reality is absorbed and the magnitude of the trauma is processed, depression sets in. Add in the social distancing and isolation requirements of quarantine with stay at home mandates, the traumatic depression is compounded.

Our normal remedies for such things are not available with social distancing, isolation and quarantine in place. So the damage/danger rises. The trauma compounds.

In addition, we have the financial upheaval this creates individually, locally and globally. The trauma compounds.

Our healthcare professionals are being asked to perform super humanly. They are not staying at home, staying safe, because they can’t. We need them on the front lines and they have stepped up. They sacrifice their needs for the needs of the whole which is more than the system does for them.

When this is over these heroes, who gave their all, will not have the opportunity to recuperate, because healthcare needs are always present. There won’t be the opportunity to sit on the couch watching netflix or play board games with their children. In fact, many will develop PTSD. The trauma compounds.

What does acceptance look like in a scenario like this?

It looks like neighbors having dance parties in driveways, virtual celebrations of life for loved ones, individuals making hundreds of respirator masks for healthcare professionals, teachers teaching online, neighbors checking in on neighbors. It looks like people moving from busy to being. It looks like calm within the chaos.

It looks like creating a new reality that holds more reverence for life and relationships. It looks like a society that takes care of the whole not the few. It looks like healers stepping forth as a new kind of hero.

It also brings with it a new acceptance of our mortality, the need to plan for it and discuss it more openly. Our death, while we do not need to hasten it, we cannot deny its inevitability. The discussions about advanced care decisions and end of life ceremony and disposition preferences have been taboo for far too long. Now, we are faced with what the end of life community has begged you to understand.

Not only is the date of our death unknown, unimaginable and unpredictable, but so too are the circumstances of our death. We may or may not have forewarning, and any forewarning will likely be only weeks, days or mere hours in advance. And if you are not listening close enough you may not even hear the forewarning when issued.

Every day has a birth and a death written in it’s sunrise and sunset. Every day you too carry your birth and death with every inhale and exhale. It is a luxury to think your next breath is a given. It is a luxury to think your tomorrow is a given.

This is part of what compounds our traumatic grief during this time. Because left and right we are now forced to face mortality as the death toll is announced. The truth is though that we are a society almost desensitized in our traumatic grief. Soaring murder rates, increased poverty, mass shootings, terrorism, war and violence against women and people of color has all contributed to our collective trauma. So, once again, our trauma is compounded.

Our experience with death is changed right now. We don’t even have the basic right to have someone at our hospital bedside, much less the choice to have a funeral or memorial with all loved ones in attendance.

This is not the time necessarily for discussing whether or not you’d prefer lavender or peppermint essential oil diffused in your bedroom in your last days. It is, however, the perfect time to seriously discuss where your quality of life line lies. What aggressive measures you would or would not want taken should it come to that.

It is the time to make sure your legal documents are in order, your passwords are accessible to a trusted person and someone knows something about your wishes regarding your final resting place.

It is also the time to do some emotional estate planning. Write letters to loved ones to be read at a later date, at your celebration of life service, or by a loved one at a wedding or milestone birthday. Create photo albums, scrap books or slideshows. Document who is who on the backs of every photo. Allocate special items to special loved ones. Secure arrangements for the care of your beloved pets upon your death. Make a collection of poems, bible passages or other writings that bring you comfort.

Just doing these things will empower you, helping to move you through your traumatic grief and nurture acceptance.

The world as we knew it is over, that’s true; that in and of itself is a traumatic loss. Within us lies the capability to create a new world, though.

Let’s make sure we create a better one. #traumatotranscendent

We Aren't Immortal

So I find myself speechless, an animal unheard of…my father is now on comfort care, unexpected to live past the weekend. Who prepares you for such a calamity of events? Who prepares you for a hostile mother, wickedness and comfortable in her environment. I’m not prepared, is anyone?”

This is an actual facebook post of an acquaintance of mine.

As I read it I felt my heart break a little. Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus and you can prepare for calamities like this. In fact, preparing for them often prevents them from becoming calamities. (You can prepare, you are just never ‘ready’.)


Let me let you in on something else….that acquaintance? She’s a registered nurse with a law degree. She’s is highly educated and works WITHIN the medical system!


We can’t keep living like we are immortal! The moment we are born we have a date with death. To see that perspective as ‘morbid’ is nothing more than denial at its finest.

Emotional Estate Planning is the forethought of emotional, psychological and spiritual preparation for your transition. Emotional Estate Planning ensures that you leave nothing ‘undone’ and that your loved ones feel supported during and after your passing.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, then it is time to start emotional estate planning now.

  1. Have you lost one or both of your parents?
  2. Have you, or anyone you love, had a life-threatening medical scare?
  3. Have you had a partner die?
  4. Have you, or anyone you love, received a life-limiting diagnosis?
  5. Have you, or anyone you love, experienced a decline in health in the past five years?
  6. Do you have a family?
  7. Do you have children?
  8. Have you experienced the sudden loss of someone dear to you and were left with the feeling of “I wish I had one more day with them”?
  9. Have you had conversations about your wishes for medical interventions or post-mortem services but haven’t documented it?
  10. Did you answer no to all of the above?

If you answered yes to any of the above -including #10, it wasn’t a trick question- then it’s appropriate to schedule an Initial Inventory Planning Session with an experienced guide.

The session is 90 minutes long and includes a copy of LIFE’S Book: Healing Rites of Passage End of Life Planner, that has everything you will need to easily create, update and maintain your emotional estate planning.

We even work nationally and internationally with the help of video. Upon receipt of payment we will send your book and conduct a video session after you receive it.

The Power of Presence

It was a Monday, like any other Monday and I had a new patient to assess. Talking to the hospice nurse before I made my visit I learned that Violet had been admitted on Friday in stable condition was expected to be with us a few weeks. The nurse thought I would find her delightful. Violet lived in an extended care facility and had no local family.

I brought music cds and a player with me to all visits in extended care facilities. I find that quiet reflective music helps transform facility space into sacred space so that what needs to happen can happen.

When I arrived at Violet’s room I found a very different woman than the nurse described. She was not responding to my voice or my touch. Her face was pinched, grimacing and pale. She was restlessly picking at everything and her breathing was shallow.

I changed gears quickly as I realized that she was actively dying and I notified the nursing staff immediately of the change in condition…then I got to work.

I set up the music and rearranged some furniture in her space so that I could be closer to her. I provided some energy healing to promote physical and emotional comfort and then began to read to her in a soft voice.

I have a booklet of poems that I’ve written over the years about dying, death and grief. They seem to speak to matters deep within that the dying sometimes have a difficult time addressing.

As I read the poems and did the energy work, I saw Violet transform. Her face that was pinched, softened and had a glow to it. Her hands that were restless and picking were now resting calmly at her sides. Her breathing was shallow and slow. Her whole presence had shifted by the time I read the last poem.

I spoke to her with reassuring words of intuitive compassion and support, after which I sat silent and provided energetic support while the music played and she did her internal work.

Suddenly, Violet sat straight up with a smile on her face and outstretched her arms. Her eyes were open and she was definitely looking at someone as she wrapped her arms around her chest as if pulling them in for a hug.

She laid back down and a few short minutes later she took her last breath.

This experience was so inspiring to me that I wrote another poem to add to my booklet. The last line of which reads, “her last breath promising much more than her first.”

When I called to notify the hospice nurse she was completely surprised by this rapid transition.

Death is not just a medical event and we do a disservice when we treat it as such. I read recently that death is a ‘physical expression of a spiritual experience’ and I find that to be very accurate.

I often tell families that dying is holistic: mind, body and spirit. And that all three need to be on the same page to have a peaceful experience. Sometimes two can be on one page and the third be on another and death is prolonged in an agonizing fashion.

My experience with Constance was much different than with Violet. Constance was also admitted on a Friday but was not expected to live until Monday. Monday came though, and she was still with us. When I visited her she was alert, but not eating or speaking. She drank only sips of water through a straw.

The family thought she was waiting for the youngest child to come in from out of town. While everyone was talking about Constance’s death, no one was talking to her about it.

I encouraged the family to begin to share the things on their hearts related to their grief over the impending loss. This was quite difficult for most family members as they had a deep belief that it was morbid to “talk like that.”

I helped them find wording that fit into their belief system, but still allowed the sentiment to be shared. The youngest child did arrive from out of town , but to everyone’s surprise Constance held on.

In fact, Constance even woke up out of her unresponsive state, able to speak just a few words and answer questions with yes or no. This went on for a few weeks before Constance finally took her last breath one night while everyone was asleep.

What was it that finally allowed Constance to let go? We will never know, but I think that by speaking the words on their hearts, Constance received what she needed in order to transition at last.

I know I make a difference in the lives and deaths of those I touch. I don’t have a marketing plan or advertising copy. I just have my heart and my need to be of service. But somehow I need to share my stories so that those who need me know I am available.

What I do as an end of life specialist is not usual, customary, formulated or predictable. I can’t promise you anything other than authenticity and compassion to serve your highest good.

But I do promise to be there every step of the way.

Why I Am Not Called A Death Doula

‘Death Doula’, while I love alliteration, has the feel of ‘Angel of Death’…and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While the end of life doula profession is being modeled after birth doulas, that is where the similarity ends. A birth doula begins her work at the birth. There would be an introductory meeting, but her work really begins at the birth and ends after postpartum follow up. So the title ‘birth doula’ is fitting.

Ideally, for me as an end of life doula (EOLD) my work begins well before death, hopefully even years, by assisting individuals in identifying the key components of what they feel would be a ‘good death’ for them, so that they can make healthcare and lifestyle decisions accordingly along the way.

This foundation plays an important role in the decisions regarding treatment when a life-limiting diagnosis or prognosis presents. When identified, all decisions regarding treatment can be weighed as either something that supports these or does not support these.

For instance, if a key component for someone is being able to spend quality time doing ‘last activities’ with family then continuing to pursue aggressive treatment past a certain point, when there is only a small chance of survival would not likely allow for the stamina needed to participate in a lot of ‘last activities’.

However, if a key component for someone is to “go down swinging”, then pursuing aggressive treatment until the last moment might be the right course of action for them.

But you can’t know these things if you aren’t examining the topic ahead of time.

No one wants to die. No one wants to admit someone they love is going to die. But this is a chapter in everyone’s life and our current model often has the author giving up their rights to pen their own chapter. We only get one chance to do this. There are no do overs and no rewind buttons.

I recall one individual who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer ending up with a death he never dreamed for himself. I was not the doula, but merely a bystander in this situation and never felt so helpless. After the first chemotherapy treatment he began to decline very rapidly. More so with each treatment he sustained. He was leaving behind two young adult daughters that needed quality time with him, but his energy was being depleted by the effects of the chemo.

His end of life care was being driven by his significant other because he had not had end of life conversations earlier, had not written down his wishes, had not identified his key components of a good death and he was less and less able to make his wishes clear as his brain began to swell.

Having end of life discussions is not morbid; is not tempting fate; is not bad juju; is not inviting death; is not jinxing anything. It is a way to have control over a time in your life where you may not feel in control.

As an end of life doula my job is not just about the moments of imminent death, it is about maximizing quality of life until transition. It is about giving control back to someone who may have handed it over to someone else, be they the medical profession or their family. It is about protecting their interests and preserving what is valuable to them.

It is about facilitating early conversations, encouraging someone to apply their lifelong decision making process to end of life situations, documenting informed choices, encouraging questions, planning last activities, assisting in legacy projects, providing comfort, providing an objective listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a safe space to fall apart and facilitating movement from a place of scared to that of sacred.

It is about reminding people of their power when they feel most powerless.

This is about more than ‘death’. It is about more than the process of dying. It is about living until and through the transition. It is about exploring beliefs about whether or not ‘life’ goes on after death. It is about preparing rituals that ease spiritual discomfort of the dying and the anticipatory grief of their loved ones.

This is end of life work, not ‘death’ work. It is so so so much more than just death.

It is a most sacred part of life.

The Elephant In The Room Is Dying

Talking about death and dying is considered taboo. It is as if we have this belief that we will manifest it just by speaking of it. This is no more true than speaking of the sunset causes the sun to dip below the horizon.

Death comes for all of us and yet even that is misleading. Death is not something that comes for us, but that which walks with all of us our entire lives; we merely choose to deny its presence.

Death has been a topic we cover on average once a week in our household; everything from a passing joke about who wants to go first, to a deep conversation about end of life care. I realize, of course, that we are not the norm. 

But we could be – we should be.

Most people when they consider their end of life, discover they are more afraid of they dying part than the being dead part. 

Dying is the elephant in the room. 

With the introduction of hospice and palliative care starting in 1974, we have been cautiously bringing the elephant out from the closet and actually acknowledging it in the corner of the room. With the introduction of end of life practitioners, like sacred attendants and end of life doulas, we are calling the elephant by name to join us in the middle of the room.

Religions refer to ‘life after death’ and ‘eternal life’, which is not a bad perspective. However, focusing on the spiritual eternal life exclusively, often provides a wall of mirrors enabling one to ignore the necessary physical death that segues to that spiritual eternal life. It is a disservice to talk of one without talking of the other. Indeed, this perspective even bypasses the inevitable spiritual and emotional work of dying before the death.

Medical professionals often present treatment options in a ‘this or that’ formula. “Do this or die”, the implication being that “if I do this, I will not die”. Death is presented as an opponent to be overcome in battle at any cost. 

But there comes a point in everyone’s life, when death wins. 

Would it not be better to hold the truth every day that death will come? Would it not be better to live every day with the truth that one day we will have to surrender to death? And that holding that truth might give deeper meaning and richer context to the life we live, up until we die? And wouldn’t that start best with conversations long before we are given a terminal prognosis? 

The message of death is around us from the moment of our birth. Each sun setting on a day is a death. Each new season is a sun setting on a phase in the year. Each New Year’s Eve is a societal sun setting on a year. Each birthday is a personal sun setting on a year. Each death of a loved one is a death of a part of ourselves, and of our life as we knew it, sometimes. Each illness -small or tragic- is a reminder of our mortality.

Acknowledging the presence of death throughout our lives brings a sweetness to each day and relieves us of regret during our dying.

Seeking out someone like a sacred attendant or end of life specialist, to facilitate conversations about end of life choices, long before a diagnosis or prognosis, can allow exploration of alternative treatment options, either along side or in place of traditional ones. It can alleviate making literal life and death decisions in the midst of a life or death crisis. 

It can also result in sharing some of the most real moments of your life with your loved ones.

A daughter said, “we’ve never been here before.” Individually, we have limited experiences with death and even fewer experiences with dying, because in recent times it has been hidden away in hospitals and healthcare facilities rather than in the home.

Our ancestors taught their children that death was a part of life, because they took care of their own at home. Doctors made house calls. Hospitals were reserved for invasive interventions. Homes were built with parlors that were used to wake the body. Mourners were taken care of as well with neighbors tending to the fields of widows and bringing food. Outward symbols of mourning, like dressing in black, indicated to strangers, ‘understand I am grieving’.

That is all changed now.

Today death is seen as a medical event to be avoided, opposed or at least postponed. “Not today” always seems to be the thought, yet in a world where being present and living in the moment is being promoted, ‘today’ is all we have, so at some point, that ‘today’ will in fact, be today.

End of life practitioners have vast experience with many types of dying and death. Drawing on that experience can be priceless to you as you navigate these waters. Turn to palliative care and hospice professionals for end of life medical support. They can help you determine the appropriate course for managing the physical aspects of terminal illness. They also have support staff like chaplains and social workers to manage some of the spiritual and psychosocial aspects of terminal illness.

But not all deaths result from terminal illness.

A son recently said to me, “If someone had told us there was only a 30% chance of survival for my 80 year old mother, we would’ve made different choices. Why didn’t anyone tell us six months ago that this was the beginning of the end? We were robbed of the opportunity for six months of quality time.”

They had four days on hospice. 

Would it have been better for someone to point out that the ability of an 80 year old to undergo aggressive interventions for declining functions was not optimal? Would it have been better for someone to point the way toward six months of ‘last days’ filled with bucket list checkmarks and quality memory making?

The other day a hospital chaplain dismissed the need for my ‘services’ as an end of life doula at their facility because they have an affiliation with a hospice. (Please refer to this page for further information. We seek to complement, not compete. https://willowsongmedicine.wordpress.com/home/ )

In the July 6, 2019 update of the article, The 4 Common Myths About Hospice Care, Angela Morrow, RN writes: 

In 2015, the median length of service for hospice patients was 23 days. This means that of the estimated 1.6 to 1.7 million patients who received hospice services that year, half received hospice care for less than 23 days, and the other half received it for longer than that. In fact, the average number of days a patient received hospice care in 2015 was 69.5 days. 

The Dying process takes time. Because of the highly skilled care that hospice workers can provide to their patients, hospice proves most effective when the caregiving team has time to deliver it. Patients and their loved ones need support, information and medical care. Social workers and chaplains need time to work with patients and their families to bring them to a place of acceptance. Nurses and doctors ned time to optimally manage the patient’s symptoms. 

So, let’s look at exactly what that means in quality time. 

The criteria for hospice admission is a prognosis of six months or less to live. So why is the average stay just 69.5 days? 

In and of itself 69.5 days is not a long time. It is just over two months. Of the long journey many take with a life limiting diagnosis -some spanning years, others months- two months is nothing.

Many do not go into hospice as early as they could because they see it as ‘giving up’. Thus, many – if they’ve even heard of hospice – don’t choose it until they understand that death is imminent. By this time the symptoms of pain and discomfort have taken their toll. There is no opportunity for quality time with loved ones while you are in a state of suffering. 

In their struggle, they haven’t been fighting the disease, they’ve been suffering the disease. By the time the hospice or palliative care teams come on board to manage symptoms and relieve that suffering, the worn out body relaxes and sleeps for the first time in a very long time. 

The time and energy that could’ve been spent taking trips, having last conversations, writing memoirs, saying good byes, enjoying gatherings and celebrating a life well lived has instead been allocated to fighting the side effects of a treatment that did not deliver on the implied promise when the doctor said “do this or die”. 

Because the doctor never said ‘you could do this and die anyway’. 

Now you are (on average) 69.5 days – 9 1/2 weeks – from death once you’ve entered hospice. But those 9 1/2 weeks are not 100% full consciousness. It will take at least one week for the medications protocol to catch up to your pain and symptoms. Perhaps two. There is a lot of sleeping during this time.

Now you’re down to 7 1/2 weeks. People do not often (though it does happen) stay alert and communicative up until the moment of death. Dying takes time. The Hospice Patient’s Alliance states: 

There are two phases which arise prior to the actual time of death: the “pre-active phase of dying,” and the “active phase of dying.” On average, the pre-active phase of dying may last approximately two weeks, while on average, the active phase of dying lasts about three days.

So, now you are down to 5 weeks of possible quality time and again you must allow for decline over that time. While at the beginning of those five weeks you might be alert 6 hours a day, towards the end of those five weeks you might only have 1 hour a day that you feel up to engaging. So, now we are down to hours…

I think you get the point. This is not the recipe for an ideal empowered transition. 

But you might say, “no death is ideal”. Well, let me ask you this: If you accept that your life on Earth has an end time, and that end time is called death, how would you prefer to die? 

Do you envision yourself physically drained, exhausted and unable to communicate the thoughts and feelings of your heart or engage with your loved ones? Do you see yourself connected to tubes and machines or to your loved ones? Do you see hospital staff, sterile environment and procedures, or your family and friends in familiar surroundings? 

I once asked someone what kind of death he envisioned. He said, “fast and painless…but I don’t envision it.” I asked then how he decided what kind of death he wanted, “from seeing the deaths of others.”

There is a cost to every treatment. Sometimes that cost is money. Sometimes it is your hair. Sometimes it is quality time. Sometimes it is just time. There is never any guarantee that an aggressive treatment will give you more time. In fact, aggressive treatment not only impairs quality of life (even temporarily), but it often hastens death.

Just as everyone has a birth story that was written by their mother’s choices regarding pain medications, attendants and location as well as natural phenomena, so too are our death stories written.

There are a million choices between receiving a life limiting diagnosis and the moment of death; each choice is a page in your death story. 

You can’t truly write your own narrative, unless/until you embrace the fact that this Earth adventure culminates in death. Unless/until you are aware of all the options available to you. Unless/until you acknowledge all possibilities.
Unless/until you start having conversations about what resonates with you and what doesn’t. 

Conversing and documenting your death vision years ahead of time, just like a will, relieves you of making those decisions under duress in a time of crisis. More importantly it relieves your loved ones of having to make those decisions for you under duress in a time of crisis.

But if you just can’t imagine doing that, then at least consider utilizing resources like end of life doulas when you have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness or have a significant decline in functioning; and palliative care and hospice when given a terminal prognosis. 

Special note to doctors:

Please, be honest about probable survival rates and the quality of life costs related to the treatments you are suggesting.  

Giving your patients and their families the full picture, is the most honorable thing you can do to enable them to make truly informed decisions. Do not rob them of four months of quality time for six months of extended suffering. Or worst, for two months of suffering.

Do not think that “hope” means four months of suffering aggressive treatment before death, instead of eight months of quality time while nature takes it’s course. 

Explore all possibilities when you have to deliver a life limiting diagnosis. Explain the pros and cons to “doing everything”, “doing something” and “doing nothing”. Explain all the costs -mentally, emotionally, physically as well as financially. Explain that hope may be for survival in the beginning, but for peace in the end – and that is still hope. Explore all possibilities means having a plan b and a set point at which plan b might be enacted. 

And if you cannot comfortably do that, be comfortable enough to bring in someone like an end of life doula to facilitate that.

Patients are not problems to be solved. They are not riddles you must figure out. People are social beings who thrive best, in the worst of situations, with open communication and the support of others. If they are kept in the dark, how will they get the support they actually need? Your patients depend on you for the truth to make the best choices for themselves. This is their only death. You owe it to them to give them all the information as soon as you have it. Remember that while they are not your only patient, you might be their only physician. 

You are part of their death story (even when they survive and go on to die many years later), make sure you are an enhancement to it. 

There are no losers when someone is referred to hospice early. There are no losers when palliative care is consulted right from the beginning. There are no losers when a death plan isn’t needed for several years. There are no losers when end of life doulas are facilitating conversations and memory making a year before someone is actively dying.

Conversely, no one wins when we prolong death by sacrificing quality of life. 

If this resonates with you and you have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness, or a decline in health status, print this out and take it to your doctor as an indication that you want to have an honest conversation about your care.

Why I Don't Help, Empower or Hustle


In my work I don’t help people. 

I don’t empower women. 

And I don’t hustle. 

Hustle: 

Here’s the thing, the word ‘hustle’ for me is a marketing buzz word intended to get you to DO MORE. I am about BEING MORE.

“You need to always be busy doing something to bring about your goals. If you are not hustling you are slacking.” 

In addition, don’t forget about the connotations of ‘hustle’ being shady, slick and underhanded. “I got hustled.” “He’s a hustler.” “The hustle and bustle.” 

Frenzied energy that does not lend to my MO. 

If you are hustling you are not allowing the flow and you know I am all about allowing the flow. If you are in alignment you are in the flow. There is no hustle to make things happen, there is just keeping up with the flow!!! You don’t make things happen you allow them to happen and dare to keep up! Some days it is all I can do to keep track of the increase in flow because SO much changes day to day that a week feels like it had to have been a month! How else could SO much be SO different? 

So I don’t ‘plan to hustle’ I ‘align to flow’. 

Empower: 

Here’s the official definition 

verb [with object and infinitive] 

give (someone) the authority or power to do something: nobody was empowered to sign checks on her behalf. 

Its a very egotistical power structure word. “I bestow upon you…” is the essence of it.

In my work I don’t see women or anyone as without authority or power. Everyone is born powerful and NO ONE can take that away, but like an illusionist, someone CAN convince you that they took it away. Therefore, if I am to open your eyes to the illusion I am not empowering you…I am not giving you something that you don’t already have within you…I am enabling you…but enabling has a stigma about it, doesn’t it? 

And here’s that definition:

give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something: [with object and infinitive] :  the evidence would enable us to arrive at firm conclusions. 

There is a very different energy about it for me. While both mention ‘authority’, empower talks of ‘giving power’  but enable speaks of ‘giving means’.

And further, enable is “ make possible: a number of courses are available to enable an understanding of a broad range of issues.” 

Rather than make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights: movements to empower the poor.”

For me the difference is this. If I live in a house that has no electricity, I have to have the power company empower me. I don’t have electricity. I don’t have access to it at all unless it is given to me. 

BUT if I live in a house that has electricity, the power company does not empower me to flip the switch to turn it on. That is all me. 

We are born powerful. We do not get it bestowed upon us by anyone -other than perhaps our Creator, but that is a different conversation. However, the master illusionists in our lives and our society may have convinced us that those light switches on the wall are just for decoration. 

I enable people to access the power that others shamed them out of.

Help:

Oh, I saved this for last. Another very egotistical word that sets up a power structure. Why do you think it is SO hard for so many to ‘ask for help’????? It is felt as one reaching down to another. You have not fallen and need me to pull you up. You are not broken and need my help to put the pieces back together. No. I don’t help people…I assist people.

I assist people in their transformation transitions. 

That’s my magic super power. I am a transformer. I spark something in others that creates the fire of transformation. I am not their fire. I do not light their fire. I do not tend their fire. I do not set them on fire. 

I am a spark. Nothing more, nothing less. 

What one does with that spark is totally and completely up to them. If what comes next is nothing, then that is about them. If what comes next is a forest fire, that too is about them. I am a spark. Nothing more, nothing less. 

It doesn’t matter the transition you are struggling with: dying, grieving, marriage, unemployment, drug addiction, coming out, having a baby…my approach is still the same. 

I flow. 

I enable.

I assist.

I spark. 

And dare I say I might even sparkle while doing it!! 

I love you.

~Jade


Life After The Dark

It is slowly all at once, Life after the Dark.

Like the sun, rising on an overcast day, is imperceptible until you suddenly realize it has indeed cleared the horizon and your world once again illuminated…even if through a dull ceiling of clouds.

Yeah, that’s about it.

When I resided in the darkness within the darkness, I had no faith left. That was the scary part. If you are interested, my dark night https://willowsongmedicine.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/dark-night-of-the-soul/

Just as the Light has returned so has my faith, but it is not the same.

It has morphed and transformed into something more solid than before (and it was pretty solid before.) I find myself taking inventory of things “I still believe” and things that no longer seem valid with a whole bunch of things in between.

The first thing to show up in the newly risen sun is that the “Universe is always conspiring on our behalf.” What that meant to me before was that the Universe always took care of me. At the last second everything would fall into place and I could see clearly how I was loved and protected because things ‘worked out’. I had believed that so much that I rarely, if ever, worried about anything. Just trusting that the Universe would take care of it as long as I did everything right.

I no longer see it that way.

Now I understand it as “the Universe is always conspiring on behalf of our development“. ‘Development’ might mean a huge loss, or challenge, or disappointment just as easily as it might mean a crisis averted, amazing opportunity or wish fulfilled. It is my development that is the focal point, not the desired outcome.

“The Universe is always conspiring on behalf of our development”, that doesn’t mean it will conspire for things to work out like you think they should.

The Universe is neutral. It is neither positive nor negative. It just is. It has it’s cogs and wheels and churns out experiences based on it’s Algorithm. Efforts to raise your vibe, use positive thinking, repeat affirmations, etc. in order to bring about desired results are actually efforts to manipulate. You cannot manipulate the Universe. There is an underlying driving belief that ‘if I do it right, then everything will turn out in ways I like.” The Universe cannot be manipulated.

The Universe fills what is empty and empties what is full. This is something I knew before, but it was way back in my consciousness. I believe now that this needs to be brought to my forefront.

There is simply the process of evolution which requires ebb and flow, receiving and giving, highs and lows, back and forth…empty and fill. It has nothing to do with us at all. Things will be emptied even if we maintain the highest of vibes. Things will be filled even if we maintain low vibes. This is part of the formula of the Universe.

There is evidence of this everywhere. The sun comes up and goes down, as the moon goes down and comes up. This is not affected by anything anyone on Earth does or does not do. Does it make sense that this would be unique to the sun and moon? Doesn’t it make more sense that we would see this pattern in every aspect of life?

There is no good or bad. It’s easy to label rewards as ‘good’ and consequences as ‘bad’, but that is inaccurate. Who is to say what is bad? Yes, there are things that bring pain and most would agree those are bad, but what if something good comes of it? Does that change the value at all? How do you adjust accordingly?

If we toss the labels of good and bad then we are forced to look beyond feels good = good, feels bad = bad, to find a new way to define our experiences. If something doesn’t work out the way we intend, the way we dreamed, the way we hoped, but it works out in a different way that brings different rewards is that good because it brought rewards or is it bad because it didn’t bring what was wanted?

The Universal Laws for me now also have a different tone.

I still believe and understand that we are all one. Like the fingers on my hand are part of the One that is me, so too am I (and you) a part of the One that is the Universe. There have been no alterations to this one for me.

Everything is/has a vibration. Each one of us vibrates at our own special frequency. From that I have never wavered. Every thing has a vibration. Every thing. Not just people, plants and animals, but food, thoughts, words, choices and relationships as well.

When something feels comfortable/uncomfortable it is resonating with our vibration. “Comfortable” is not the same as “familiar”. When something feels comfortable it may not be familiar, but it intuitively feels right. We experience excitement, anticipation and maybe a little bit of nervousness. When something feels uncomfortable it is stretching us outside our comfort zone and challenging us. It is unfamiliar but still intuitively feels right…scary maybe, but right. When something brings discomfort it does not resonate with our vibration. When something brings discomfort it feels intuitively wrong, for reasons we may not even be able to verbalize.

Raising our vibration does not mean we magically attract/manifest all the things we want, but I think it does magically bring us the things we need. The things we want, may not be of high vibration. Or the things we want may be contraindicated to what we need. Or this thing we want now and this thing we want long term may be mutually exclusive. Also, things that are of higher vibration than we, can feel quite uncomfortable. So, how can we ever be sure that ‘this’, whatever ‘this’ is, isn’t actually high vibe after all? What we need may not feel good to us in the moment, but feel very good as events unfold. Raising our vibe does not mean that we will never be uncomfortable again; indeed it may mean that we will experience great uncomfortableness at times.

But raising our vibe is important in creating our experience of whatever comes our way. What happens, happens but how we experience that happening depends on our vibration and our vibration depends on our beliefs. So while raising our vibration does not mean our bank account magically rises, it does mean that we will feel more abundant with the amount that is currently in there.

I believe even more strongly after the Dark Night that it is not what happens to us but who we become through those experiences that matters. The events of our lives can be influenced by a myriad of variables.

They can be pre-destined, by us; orchestrated core events intended to give us the experiences we planned to explore before incarnated. They can be created by us in the moment by our choices and vibrations; a result of our thoughts, beliefs and actions that draw to us vibrations of the same frequency. They can be the result of someone else’s pre-destiny or choices and vibrations. Or possibly something called coincidence (which I don’t believe in.) Or something else entirely, I can’t even fathom right now.

And lastly, maybe even most importantly, I believe ‘reality’ is not validation of our Truth. I used to look at what was in my current reality as a reflection of my truth. After all, how many times have you heard ‘your outer world is a reflection of your inner world’? I believed that with my whole heart and so I would put great energy into adjusting my inner world according to what I was experiencing in my outer reality.

But based on the previous belief I outlined, that just isn’t so. This required a lot of recalibration on my part. I didn’t realize how deeply this belief went. That if I do all the right things, I will be rewarded. That things will come out right…and I had a very clear picture of what ‘right’ looked like and what it didn’t.

This caused me great suffering. Then I realized this was very much the same suffering I experienced when I believed in an all-powerful chess-playing God. The God that had a Plan, a Reason, a Will. I tried to appease Him, just as I had been trying to appease the Universe. It is all just manipulation. It has no merit in the System that We As The Creator have developed.

What does have merit is maintaining your Light when all about you is Dark.

Yes, that is the basis of my Faith now. The belief that no matter what comes to me, I maintain my Light. The belief that no matter what leaves me, I maintain my Light. It is not to bring to me all sorts of manifestations. Not to bring to me good jobs, wealth, health and opportunities. No. But to bring me Peace. Peace that is not dependent on circumstances. Peace that is not dependent on relationships. Peace that is not dependent on any thing of this world.

Peace that is reliant on only my Self.

That Peace will never again be contingent upon my external circumstances, but rather my internal experience to those circumstances, only. Only. ONLY. ONLY.

Therein lies power. The power to overcome any Dark Night of the Soul. Any, trying circumstance. In the movie Miracle On 34th Street, Doris Walker says, “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” Never have these words had more meaning for me than they do now. Common sense is an earthly attempt to navigate earthly events. Faith is an unearthly attempt to navigate earthly events.

There is Light after the Dark, my friends.

And like my friend, Glenda the Good Witch says, “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” I did…and I’m sure I will again.

I love you.

~Jade