Thursday, March 02, 2006

Facing the transition

Today I have a question for all of you.

Dear Abby today has a reader who recommends hospice care for those facing terminal illness. I’ve always thought hospice care is a wonderful service, allowing patients to make the transition with dignity and wholeness.

When I suggested to a friend of mine lately, though, that perhaps even those relying on Spirit for healing could benefit from hospice, she took exception to this. She maintained that one should never admit that death is imminent. To do so is to admit that the disease is real and has power, and that God can’t heal you.

I can see her point. Yet I also hope that somehow what people have learned on their spiritual journey can help them have a harmonious transition.

That’s what I’d like for me and my family when it’s my time—harmony. I’ve talked about all of the mortal seeming being a “gray area,” with no absolute right or wrong. But I can pursue the highest concept of right that is appearing to me at this time.

To me, harmony at the transition called death would be painlessness, ease, gratitude, order, wholeness. It would be metaphorically settling accounts with loved ones, allowing for the closure of any old wounds and the expression of abiding affection and grace. I really think the spiritual journey can help with that.

Don’t worry, I’m definitely not thinking of doing this any time soon! But I find that as I think about this issue, it impels me to put things in order now. Like when I wrote about helping my daughter come to terms with how I was as a parent. (Redeem the past and Deep-and-meaningfuls.) I don’t have to wait to do that, I can start that process now.

Someone else wrote me lately that they feel eventually humankind will learn how to ascend out of this body rather than have the body die first before we leave. Perhaps this is so, eventually. I know for myself that I’m a long way from that understanding, so I expect my transition will be a more conventional one.

But even if ascension is the physical answer, there are still other elements to leaving that can be uplifted. I mean, even when Jesus ascended, he had followers that he left behind. They were filled with such inspiration at his bodily demonstration that they went on their way "with great joy."

So perhaps that would be my ultimate wish for when it’s time to leave my children behind and go beyond. That we will have settled the issues between us and have built a relationship on the solid ground of love and truth. And that they will know with me that life continues, that there is no cause for grief, that our parting is only the temporary effect of material existence and will not last into eternity.

My question for you is: What do you think? Is there a place for intentionally facing the transition called death when you are also turning to Spirit for healing?

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 3/02/2006 10:57:00 AM, Anonymous Vicki said...

Laura, I know of at least one CS practitioner whose family did use Hospice for her when she was dying of cancer. I think this is something very personal, and depends on the situation -- is there family around, etc.

I don't have a definite answer to your question, but a couple of thoughts:

I think there just comes a time when we have completed our "mission" here, that it is useless to keep trying to prop up the mortal body and keep it going. Just because our body seems to give up doesn't mean Spirit hasn't been keeping our identity alive. We can't always define what a healing is.

As long as we cling to the idea that "God is my Life" it does not matter that we take steps to prepare our families for our leaving. I can see some beautiful things happening.

Both of my parents were wrenched from me in different circumstances, though both were slow in coming. Perhaps Hospice could have helped us say the things we needed to say. I was left with wondering if they were proud of me or if I was loved. I had to work this out on my own.


At 3/02/2006 01:51:00 PM, Anonymous moppo said...

Refusing to acknowledge the death of the material body implies that matter should be immortal. But it isn't. Glad you recognize that. Hospice is an act of love for all concerned.

At 3/02/2006 08:37:00 PM, Anonymous Veronika said...

For me it is important to know that sickness does not kill and that there is no death. Yes, at our present stage of understanding there is this transition called ‘death’ coming up for everybody. But we continually go through transitions. Coming in at birth is a transition. Getting married or having children is a transition. And I am trusting that I will be helped in whatever way is right with whatever transition there is. I also know from experience that I can prepare, that is practice right thinking which makes all the difference.
Love, Veronika

At 3/02/2006 09:27:00 PM, Blogger Laura said...

This from Maria:

Dear Laura,

I think a lot of Christian Scientists, probably myself included, don't understand hospice care. From your blog today, it sound likes a place where the "whole man" is cared for--emotional, spiritual as well as physical needs, where the patient and their family members are helped in facing and caring for the human affairs and people that may be left behind. This sounds like the "wisdom, economy and brotherly love" that Mary Baker Eddy talks about. While a Christian Science nurse or care facility can provide with helping care for the patient, it sounds like hospice might have a broader reach to others in the picture. I guess my concern had been that a hospice setting might force or at least strongly encourage painkillers, seeking medical intervention if they thought it would help etc. Could you or one of your readers elaborate on what hospice services encompasses? Could some hospice services be used in tandem with Christian Science nursing care?

Thanks for bringing up this topic!


At 3/02/2006 10:43:00 PM, Anonymous Vicki said...


My understanding of the Hospice program is that it is for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have only six months or less to live (per medical diagnosis). Usually there is nothing more the doctors can do, so the treatment is mostly painkillers to keep the patient comfortable at home. Come to think of it, I'm sure there must be accurate explanations on the internet! You might try there.

I can see this being compatible with CS in that the family is helped with the patient's care at home, and they are all guided in dealing with the loss.


At 3/03/2006 12:33:00 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

If I were faced with what society calls a terminal illness, I would not seek hospice care for my own benefit.

I might, however, agree to it for my family's benefit, just as I submitted to an outpatient procedure to remove a lump from my breast a couple of years ago.

My husband has no background in Christian Science and was very hesitant about trusting a practitioner with his wife's life. Throwing away my Theraflu was one thing; attempting to treat a potentially cancerous growth with nothing but prayer was another matter entirely, and he was not ready for that.

I already knew this lump was not and could not be malignant, and that it would disappear quickly enough once I understood its unreality, but I felt that defying my husband's wishes would be unkind to him and would create such an atmosphere of fear in my home that I would be very susceptible to his unintentional mental malpractice ... so, despite my absolute certainty that my practitioner could and would heal me, I agreed to allow a surgeon to remove the lump and biopsy it for my husband's sake.

I imagine the same sort of thinking would be appropriate in a situation involving a so-called terminal illness. As Scientists, we practice love, and sometimes love demands that we make a few compromises that fall short of the ideal to avoid hurting someone whose understanding may not have reached the same level as our own.

It's sort of like the whole sex issue: While the ultimate goal may be to reject any sexual activity other than "material conditions ... for the purpose of generating," it would not be fair, reasonable or loving to subject my dear husband to a lifetime of "Not tonight, Honey, I'm a Christian Scientist," even if I eventually reach a level of understanding that transcends the need for physical intimacy (which, frankly, I haven't yet). We have to meet people where they are, not where we would like for them to be.

When we perceive that someone we love is ill or dying, our first instinct is to do as much for that person as we can. It's only natural to express love in that way. The means we use will vary depending on our level of spiritual understanding. Mrs. Eddy's response would be to walk into the sickroom and heal the patient. My husband's response would be to call a doctor and do everything humanly possible to prolong my life (in a material sense) and my health. Both would be operating from their highest sense of right.

Sometimes we do things not because they make us feel better, but because they make someone else feel better. I would put hospice care into this category. As long as we are careful not to allow the experience to cloud our own spiritual understanding, I think there is nothing wrong with accepting this kind of assistance, especially if it will ease our families' burden of caring for us (although a Christian Science nurse could also serve in that capacity, assuming one was available) or reassure them that they are doing all they can to help us.


At 3/04/2006 10:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both of my parents were wrenched from me in different circumstances, though both were slow in coming. Perhaps Hospice could have helped us say the things we needed to say. I was left with wondering if they were proud of me or if I was loved. I had to work this out on my own.


At 3/04/2006 10:21:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

dear Vicki, thanks for your comments on this issue.... my prayers are with you....


At 3/04/2006 10:26:00 AM, Anonymous Lee said...

Both of my parents were wrenched from me in different circumstances, though both were slow in coming. Perhaps Hospice could have helped us say the things we needed to say. I was left with wondering if they were proud of me or if I was loved. I had to work this out on my own.

This is to Vicki --

I think I understand the questions you have about your parents. I have had the same and had to struggle on my own to find some answers.
For me, I realized that God was always present and even though I might not have felt loved as I would have like, I was loved and I need to see what love was as identified by my parents not me. When I pray I always thank God for his presence with me during my time with my parents and that he give me my parents. I also pray for my parents that they are growing and moving forward having the ability to get passed the limitations they had in this world and be illuminated by God's love.


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