All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well. Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416) English Christian mystic
“In the final stages [of dying], one is simultaneously immersed in the demands of care and faced with the enormity of what’s happening. At this time, it’s easy to feel isolated – a hallmark of illness whether for the patient or for caregivers. Again, it may be helpful to remember that the personal and universal are interwoven, that we are engaged in the universal ritual of moving toward death, that we are not alone even though what we are experiencing feels totally unique and personal.
Sometimes I wondered how it was possible to feel, even in the midst of difficult circumstances, that at some level all was well. The emphasis here is on the word level. The wisdom traditions speak about the relative and absolute levels of reality. Relative reality is the world as we know it – whereas absolute reality is unconditioned, beyond duality, free. We can have glimpses of that level even in the presence of death.
Khandro Rinpoche’s most valuable reminders for me were:
“Be easy with yourself”,
“The best practice is calm abiding”,
“Go beyond hope and fear.”
Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle. “Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows. A Couple’s Journey through Alzheimer’s.” Penguin, NY, 2008.
|Photo: David A. Lovas|