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"Transitioning" at End of Life

This is a heavy subject but one that is very interesting. In my career as a Transitioning Coach and End of Life Celebrant, I have had three very profound experiences on this subject.

My first husband, lay on his death bed in Palliative care. Before he slipped into a coma, he anxiously communicated that the biggest reason he couldn’t let go was he was worried about our daughter, Daddy’s girl. What will happen to our daughter. I rather halfheartedly answered, “I’m not going to kill her” and giggled. You see, Garry as a loving father who is to be the protector, wanted to stay to take care of his little girl. I quickly needed to reassure him that she would be well taken care of between her older brother, myself and our network of supportive friends and family.

Shortly after, he slipped into a peaceful state. The next reaction a few days later was when my brother and parents arrived from across the country. He stirred looked at them and then gently slipped away…you see he wanted to be re-assured that I had family to take care of me. An interesting transition from this life.

My next encounter was my girlfriends father. I came to the hospital on a call from her for support and found her father (my second Dad) very restless. Having been at bedsides of people passing, I knew what to do. I proceeded to make him comfortable with warm blankets and calming talk to settle him down. I suggested she talk to him and say what was on her mind as I thought he might be ready to let go.

Final words needed to be spoken and he was reaching out for final assurances and comfort. He passed within the hour and she was so glad that he lay calmly out of his restless state and left peacefully.

Last fall, I dropped in to see my mother in law who hadn’t been feeling well that week. She answered her door and looked quite well. We sat at her kitchen table and had a hot water and chocolate chip cookie. We spoke of my children and grandchildren and had a lovely visit. When I went to leave, I had an interesting goodbye. Mom took my arms and proceeded to tell me that she was not always a Godly woman. She recanted stories of her wayward activities as a young person (to which I chuckled and said don’t most of us have some teen challenges) and assured her that she was our “little Mother Teresa”.

She shared that once she had children, she decided that they needed to go to Sunday school so she had an encounter with God and began going to church. She seemed to have a need to confess what she called the dark days in her life. I assured her that we knew she wasn’t perfect but awfully close and we smiled together, kissed each other and off I went. Two hours later she slumped over in the dining room and was gone.

So to me, transitioning at end of life is unique and there is no cookie cutter way that this happens. The question begs to be asked, that it would seem to me that there is room for end of life coaching as a person prepares to leave this earth. My Mom slipped away minutes after the room was empty of loved ones. It was her private way of going. It is a mystery…. but an interesting subject. As a supporter of Hospice, I have become most interested about this subject of end of life transitioning and I will forever be a student of this process.

Kathleen is a transition coach, a TEDx speaking coach and an end of life Celebrant. Working with people at sensitive times in their life is her passion.

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