So, I want to start this blog by letting you know that I have some pretty strong thoughts about the next life. Having had a front row seat to dying more than once, I can tell you it’s hard. And beautiful. And heartbreaking. And a priviledge.
One guide that has helped me navigate the messages of the dying is ‘Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying.’ It was given to me back in 2003 when my mother was dying. I’ve read it several times over the years and most recently, for my sister’s last journey that ended on November 22nd. I am forever grateful for the knowledge that I’ve gained through the co-author’s experiences as hospice nurses.
My Sister’s End of Life Plan
My sister was an incredible human being. She endured such hardship in her life. She was a victim and a warrior all rolled into one package.
Andrea Norgate is the UHN Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Coordinator that shepherded my sister through her transplant and continued to monitor her since that day back in 2011. When we told her about my sister’s death, Andrea shared this:
“Peggy had a remarkable way about her. She was a straight shooter and regardless of the challenges, I always felt she took life’s obstacles with strength and resolve.”
On September 26th, Peggy made the brave decision to discontinue all medication and start an end of life plan. She was a double transplant recipient with congestive heart failure, and had just received a cancer diagnosis. That was the final straw and she committed to ending her pain and leaving this earth on her terms.
The hospital palliative care team suggested that it would be quick once they stop all medications. But, they didn’t know my sister. She passed away eight weeks later on November 22nd.
I wrote my sister this poem and read it to her when I arrived back in September. When I was finished, she smiled, looked me in the eyes and said, “That is so beautiful. I’m not at all afraid – really I’m not.” I hung on to those words through all the moments that I would face on her final journey – the happy ones, the bittersweet ones and the heartbreaking ones.
I will share it with you here.
The Next Life
This life...right here.... right now is not all there is. I believe in an afterlife, the next life.
The next life looks different, it feels different It is a spirit that surrounds us making us whole It is comforting and loving and warm There is laughter and light and love There is no pain There is no struggle.
I believe that those you love are there in the next life After all, they are in your heart and soul It simply isn't possible that they leave this life and are gone. Those that have showed you love, kindness and nurtured you Those that brought you into this world They will be there waiting for you.
You may not see them in the same physical way But you will feel them. Your souls blend into one They have made the journey They will take your hand and show you the way Just as you will for me when I get there.
And those who have caused you pain are not there The darkness is left behind because you so deeply deserve only light and love in the next life. Remember, there is no pain and no struggle You are untouchable to those that hurt you They have to bear the burden of the pain they caused but they can no longer hurt you.
I believe that you will watch over me and I'll watch for your signs every day You will have so much power in the next life.
And when it's time you will be waiting for me To greet me and hold me And you will show me the way You will convince me that there isn't anything to be afraid of You will be my protector and my hero and my guide Just as you were in this life.
I'll see you in the next life.
Rest in peace sister. You are loved beyond words.