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Positive Thinking – Life Lessons from Challenging Moments

By

A Personal Experience Story

Early July, 2017

I sit here at the hospice facility waiting by the bedside of my mother-in-law whose every breath is measured. The room is bright, with two windows letting in much light. My MIL (mother-in-law) is in a large hospital bed which has thick, comfortable padding.

This is a lonely vigil, one that has caused me deep reflection on life and death.

My MIL appears tragically suspended between these two dimensions holding on to each moment of life. Probably fearing what is to come. She has dementia and the nurses here believe that those with this condition remain in this other-worldly limbo for longer because they are more confused. Her body is skeletal — just skin and bones. Her skin is paper thin and her face has a sunken appearance. She cannot see at all and can only hear a little bit.

It has all been a truly emotionally demanding, difficult journey with her. My husband works a long commute away in Manhattan and he does not have many days off, so the day to day vigil with my MIL is up to me. And I do not want her to spend her last days on this earth alone in a hospice facility without a family member by her side. So I do my best to be there for her. And I do Reiki for her at every visit.

The doctors originally suggested when she was moved from hospital into hospice that in her already weakened state that the dying process would not likely take more than 2 days. However, she lasted 10 days in this barely-alive state (with no food or water), and then quietly slipped away one afternoon, maybe just ten minutes before I arrived for my visit. Somehow I had hoped to be there, perhaps holding her hand, when she left her physical body, but she chose an exit point of when she was alone. She always did things on her own unique terms anyway, so why should her point of departure be any different?

She had never been a very demonstrative woman, and found it hard to discuss emotions. But while she was still conscious and in the hospital before she had been moved into hospice, I told her that I love her. And after a long pause, she said “I love you too. And you are always there for me.” Those were her last meaningful words to me, and they comforted and sustained me through the ensuing hospice period which was the saddest last leg of her journey here in the physical plane, and where she was not able to really communicate anymore.

I believe my MIL is finally at peace now, perhaps reconnecting with her husband who had predeceased her by many years as well as many other family members and friends. I like to think she is very light now — as pure positive energy — a spirit soaring free from that totally old and broken physical body that she became in the last months/years of her life.

This hospice vigil was a totally humbling experience for me. It was a time of reflection. And this is what flowed from my heart one day as I sat by my MIL’s bedside…

This is what life is — the poignancy of these vivid moments in the midst of challenge. The ones that feel keen and filled with emotion. It is not easy. But these remind us of the tangibility of our physical journeys. The sharp, stark contrast of these moments fraught with turbulence teach us how life is truly a blessing and a privilege… how love is the essence of what we are.

If we can learn that lesson, our days here will certainly be enriched.

Affirmations:

  • I strive to be present in the NOW moment.
  • I maintain the attitude that life is a gift — each moment, each day is a blessing!
  • Both the bittersweet and the smooth moments of my life shape my journey — I choose to learn from all my experiences…

Comments

  1. Trish Divine Wilder says:

    Dear Sheryl,

    You write beautifully of your MIL’s passing. It is so hard to hold these daily vigils, but it sounds as if you served with love and compassion. No doubt, this will be a blessing to you during the grieving period and the rest of your days. My condolences to you and your husband.

    Barbara Gilman forwarded your newsletter to me. I attended the last Reiki Circle you held and would very much enjoy receiving your newsletter and notices of future Reiki sharing opportunities.

    In love and light,
    Trish Divine Wilder

    • Sheryl Schlameuss Berger says:

      Trish — thank you for your most kind words and for your condolences. I did add you to my database so you should receive future mailings from me. I hope to see you again in the near future. Love, light and blessings to you!

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