Holistic Support In Uncertain Times

Carol was the neighborhood mom of my adolescence. Carol’s daughter, Marsha, and my younger sister were the best of friends. While in our youth we were not allies, as we grew into adulthood we grew closer.

I had peripherally understood that Carol had battled a few different types of cancer throughout her life. It’s unfair really, that anyone would have to face multiple cancer fights, but she was known as a fighter. Even in our youth, her warrior spirit was recognizable.

But there comes a day in every warrior’s life when the sword and shield get heavy and it is time to lay them down.

Carol was at peace with her decision to forego aggressive treatments. She was tired and just wanted to BE: BE with her family, BE in her home and to BE with her God.

Carol was at home with hospice care and as so often is the case of only daughters, Marsha was the caregiver of record.

Upon my arrival I found the energy of the house to be chaotic. This is not surprising as our society has created an atmosphere that treats death as a medical event, rather than a holistic experience. Often an individual internally senses when it is time to let go and accepts this new phase of their journey, but in an effort to ‘stay positive’ the family can pressure the patient to ‘not give up’. This fear-based disparity creates a chaotic energy in the environment.

Acceptance is a very different energy than giving up. Giving up is premature disengagement usually stemming from depression. Acceptance is completely different. Acceptance is no longer fighting against the tide, it is allowing peace to take the place of fear and standing in the love of those surrounding you. Acceptance transforms the scared energy into sacred energy.

Carol was in acceptance. Her daughter was in acceptance. The rest of the family, maybe not so much.

Acceptance became our first goal so sacred things could start to happen.

Families need permission to be ok with a patient’s decision. A simple “It’s ok” from someone with experience often opens up a floodgate of relief from self-imposed criticism.

I observed the family as it operated organically. I saw who was comfortable providing what, supported their strengths and nurtured their perceived weaknesses. I could identify small but significant shifts to facilitate the transition from crisis energy to sacred energy.

Once that happened, peace replaced the panic.

I watched as Marsha used the therapeutic ritual techniques I’d suggested to provide holistic support to her mother. Therapeutic ritual techniques not only provides practical emotional and spiritual comfort to the individual, but it also offers an outlet for the underlying helplessness caregivers experience while caring for a dying loved one.

I never orchestrate anything when I am providing holistic support. I aim to be non-invasive and wait for organic opportunities to facilitate sacred moments. When I was alone with Carol I offered spiritual and emotional support and encouragement. When I was alone with family members I listened to their deepest fear revealed and spoke to that.

You can’t know from one moment to the next what will be of significance so I am always looking for signs. While her son was catching me up on his life, I noticed a change in Carol’s face. I knew she was looking through the veil to the other side. She smiled, sighed and said ‘Ooohhh’. I encouraged her to share her vision. She said she saw so many colors. All kinds of colors. Colors she had never before seen. When I asked her what it felt like she said ‘Joy. It feels like joy.’

I saw the glow of her vision reflected on her face.

Carol died surrounded by her closest family members just three days later.

Providing holistic support to those facing a life limiting prognosis whether due to aging, trauma or disease is the greatest honor of my life. I understand the complicated struggle that happens along the journey between life and death. I am comfortable having the uncomfortable conversations and holding space so that families and individuals can find their own path, create their own memories and feel empowered in their own experience.

My greatest wish is to support more individuals and families in shifting from scared to sacred.

Judith Klemos BSW, CTTP, ULC Minister
Healing Rites of Passage
219 488 6176

A Late Announcement Is Better Than None At All…

Some of you have followed me for a long time from Namaste` Holistic Services, The Sentient Soul, WillowSong Medicine Woman to Mystic Willow. Some of you have known me as Judy Polimac, Judy Edwards, Judy Klemos and from Judy, to Jude to Jade.

I appreciate your acceptance and support as I have done my own transitioning. As the seasons change, so too do we and I have entered into a new season of my life.

I want to take a minute to explain it.

I have lived my life in service of others in various roles over the course of three decades. I have a long career in Social Work, working in most of the genres within that field. Without question I have been most honored to be allowed to work with those with Intellectual Disabilities and those in hospice.

Alongside this fulfilling career I studied and practiced in the metaphysical field developing a skill for energy healing and intuitive energy counseling. I have developed a very unique approach to life and assisting others by combining these two worlds.

Recently the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association has developed a committee to develop and structure a paradigm for end of life doulas. This non-medical based approach to this last transition is long overdue. I have the privilege of being one of the pioneers of this frontier.

Thus I have started Healing Rites of Passage and for lack of a better title I call myself an End of Life Doula, however I believe this model can be applied to all of life’s transitions, thus making me more of a Life Transitions Doula, specializing in end of life transitions.

What does an end of life doula do? Similar to what a birth doula does, but instead of assisting a mother in bringing a life into this world, I assist those leaving this world and their families left behind.

It is important to note that this is a non-medical support position not intended to replace things like palliative care or hospice, but to enhance it. I provide therapeutic presence, emotional support, spiritual support, education on the needs of dying as well as the needs of the grieving, the end of life process, advocacy, opportunities for legacy creation, memorial/funeral planning, advanced care directive planning, companionship and energy work just to name a few.

I have been an ordained minister since 2003. I am not aligned with any organized religion, but rather have a holistic spiritual focus.

I have met many children, spouses and siblings who, when I tell them of my path, state that they wish they had someone like me when their loved one transitioned. I have had others say they wish they’d known me when they were going through a major life transition of their own (such as divorce, baby blessings and chronic illness). This post is one way of telling the world I move in that this service exists, and that I am here.

I appreciate your continued support, encouragement and companionship on my own journey, and as always…

I love you.