A kind and goodly man had returned from the hospital where he underwent a series of tests to investigate increasing discomfort in his torso and constant low energy levels. His wife of forty-nine years had died two years ago after a long bout with breast cancer, and he never seemed to recover from the yearlong caretaking of his wife as she went through series after series of operations, radiation treatments and chemotherapy. Just as it happened with his wife, now he was diagnosed as having terminal cancer. The doctors said there was nothing they could do and gave him six months to live.
The day he received the diagnosis and prognosis, his friend asked him what he was going to do about it. “Nothing,” he replied, “I will leave it in God’s hands.”
Five months later, his friends had gathered for his memorial service at his home in the country. As they sat on the lawn furniture sipping tea after service, one said, “This old house has potential. With a few improvements, I bet I could turn it over in a couple of months and make a good profit. The first thing I would do is take down those ridiculous bird feeders. Look at all of the disgusting creatures they attract. How could he stand all of these noisy birds flying about dropping shit all over the place?
The middle-aged man sitting next to her said, “I knew he wasn’t going to make it. I told him leaving it to God was only a copout. And he was always so down; so depressed after his wife died. He didn’t really want to live. If he did he would have fought it tooth and nail. You know what they say about couples. After the first one dies, the partner usually isn’t far behind.”
Another friend said, “I know he said that he was turning it over to God. But he lacked faith. He was always experimenting with that New Age crap. He actually sat around doing nothing but singing the same note over and over again and burning that smelly incense. If he truly believed in the Lord he surely would have been cured. Besides, I never saw him in church once.”
A third whispered, “I told him about that author. You know: that guy who’s on all of the talk shows with the best-selling books on creative visualization. He should have been using the power of his mind to think it away. All he thought about was the inevitability of death. No wonder he didn’t make it.”
The fourth responded with, “What can you expect. He smoked cigarettes for twenty years when he was younger. Besides, I told him of a new chemotherapy/radiation treatment they were experimenting with in the city. But he didn’t even call to try to get into the program. He just gave up!”
The last person in the group was quiet throughout the ceremonies and this discussion. When pressed for an opinion, she finally said, “I sat with him after work most days. His sister came in from the city to care for him on the weekends. All I know is that he asked me to take him outside every day so he could meditate and pray under the giant oak. He fed the birds every morning and learned all of their songs. What did he call it? Oh yeah… frolicking. He loved to watch them frolic and sing.” She paused for a moment, seemingly lost in a vision of the past as she remembered him fondly, “Every evening he sat on the porch and thanked God for allowing him such a long and prosperous life, for his family and friends, and he asked for the courage and strength to fight this disease every day. Near the end, he spoke to the spirits that he said were floating around the room most of the time- by then. That last night, just before he died, he saw an angel above his bed. He asked God to forgive those who may have wronged him in this life. And he asked to be forgiven for any wrongs he had done. His last words were for those who might judge his life, or his passing, to be shown the beautiful things that were revealed to him these last months and for them to be awakened while they still walked in health.
Dying is a natural and inevitable part of life. If your spirit volunteered to incarnate on this planet, it had to choose to have a body that breaks down over time and is prone to destruction by trauma and disease, unless one had become a master in this particular lifetime. Why do we need to find fault, to look for reasons? Does it push death further away by finding a mistake the deceased made, which then frees you from that same fate?
Practice shutting out the noise of the outer world and seek visions while you live. And listen to the small voice of your heart and the subtle feeling of the truth within. Learn to trust in the powers of the heavens working through your inner guidance. For they have the view to know the hidden purposes in all events, and the grace to righteously administer the laws of cause and effect. Their wisdom will lead you to the right combinations of treatment; be it surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, dietary changes, natural remedies, acupuncture, healing, guided visualizations, and the like. And they know when it is a good day to die. Only they are clear enough to analyze and judge the course of a person’s lifetime and to determine the success or failure of the working out of his or her karma. Our role is to try to hear their wisdom.
It hurts to face mortality. We must try to implement grace whenever we are tempted to judge the manner and timing of another’s dying or death. It will help the departing soul on its journey back home, and free our own souls to speak to us more clearly about life.
Craig Junjulas © 1999 On Judgment of the Dying/Grace for the Dying Craig Junjulas © 2003
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