Transitions: My Autumn to Winter

“Oh, Great Maple, a year of brilliant sunrises and enchanted starry nights are painted in the poetry of your Autumnal leaves. Here is Nature’s way to have the End match the whole. ”

Autumn is my favorite season. The richness, the bounty, the beauty, the slowing down, the bundling up and the ever present feeling of gratitude that permeates the air. It leaves me taking deep breaths and in a place of internal contemplation.

We can take a lesson from Mother Nature. What would our End need to look like to match and to contain the essence of the whole of our lives? How do we stay in integrity with the life we have lived if our End is some distant, removed, sterilized, isolated, unattended, unimagined point?

It requires you to look at your upcoming End, to look at Death. This End point must be looked at in order to reach it in the way you desire. As you know, your life will end with or without your consent. So, as with any other major decision, change, transition in your life, you should really be the one orchestrating it. No one knows you or your life better than you. Nobody knows what you want and don’t want better than you.

As we begin to explore the re-development of our Transitions, I bring you a question. Do you know what your choices are? You can’t paint a very interesting painting if you believe your only tool is an orange crayon. What if you had an entire art room full of options to choose from? Your End is like that. Begin by looking at the image you have in your mind now of what you think your End of Life might look like. Now, craft an image that matches the fullness of your life. In this column we will begin to explore some of those options.  Paint the mastery of your own existence into your End of life.  

Planning for the End no more ensures that it will come faster than planning to win the lottery.

Planning for your End of Life is more than writing an Advanced Directive (formerly called a Living Will).  Though an Advanced Directive is part of the process, did you know that it should cover more than whether you want CPR or not? It should allow much more flexibility and creativity into your options. Not simply yes or no answers.  Like staying on artificial breathing for a week then allowing it to be turned off. Did you know that you can have massage and acupuncture for pain management as well as morphine?  . I encourage you to write a Death Plan. Like a Birth Plan (the first Transition you went through), you should pick the kind of care you need to be fully supported medically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It fills the gaps between the Advanced Care Directive and funeral plan. Get specific. Pick the colors, the scents, the fabrics, the whole nine yards. Craft the mastery of your own existence into your End of life.  

Written by Ashley T Benem, Death Midwife, LMP, Minister. 


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