My Travels with the Dying

Below is the truth I shared on January 25, 2017 at Testify Austin’s monthly event.

Hello, I’ve been touched by death. The woman who stands before you did not exist a couple of years ago. The person I’ve become is a direct result of my time spent contemplating and participating in the dying process of others.

In the fall of 2014 I received terrible news. My grandfather’s illness had taken a turn. He had decided not to receive any more treatment. By the time I got the news, he had already spoken with the church minister and was prepared to die.

As part of me heard these words from my mother over the phone, there was another part of me lighting up. I was listening to her but also paying attention to the feelings that were arising in my body. They seemed to be feelings of both urgency and excitement. It was as if I transcended the state of being a granddaughter and was being called to a very special briefing.

In two days I found myself back home. And after visiting with my grandfather on the couch in the den, I knew it would not be long before he was gone. My goal was to love him and to comfort him as much as possible, and also to wait, to wait for instruction, whatever that meant. I knew clearly I was there for him and strangely there was something there for me, too, if I wanted it.

My grandfather was a strong, quiet man. I always enjoyed being around him, he seemed to be able to make a busy room calm. So it was no surprise that he made his choice and then lived with his choice. He moved with grace and stillness towards death. During the last couple weeks of my grandfather’s life I was honored to assist him.

Now I did not know about the ways I would assist him, but they seemed to lie dormant within me, waiting to come alive in the moments I spent with him. The strange feelings in my body, the energetic sessions with him, and pictures in my mind, all these types of messages I received both within me and from others. They were profound.

During one really hard day of my grandfather’s transition, I pledged with him that I would indeed die with him if he bravely stayed the course. I, like him, was struggling to release all of the worldly worries swirling around me.

What I learned from my grandfather’s death made such an impression on me. After he died, I completely shifted gears in my business and changed how I was living. I decided I wanted to let go of the unnecessary things with the grace and the courage he had displayed. And my podcast was born out of all of the self-reflection and integration that happened after his death.

The podcast, or the project of the heart as I call it, led me to Barbara. The first day I met her was a very interesting day. I was told that she was an older woman going through transition but when I walked into the room to meet her, I found no such woman. Instead, I met the brightest light on earth. She was not dying that day or the next day but she would leave us in less than 10 months.

Barbara was always grateful to have company and part of her last days on this earth were in service to church members and anybody else who wanted to learn what she had to teach. I learned a lot about love, it was her specialty.

My days with Barbara usually lasted between 2-4 hours. I would sit at her bedside and we would talk. And sometimes her daughter would be there, because this was her daughter’s journey, too. And some days we’d do release work and other days we’d do body work. Every day I spent with her was full of connection and wisdom.

From various mental states the dying seem to bring forth information from the past or from the other side, and Barbara was no exception.

I remember one very special day with Barbara and it was towards the end of her life, I believe it was about a week or so before she died. And she said to me, “I have something very important to tell you.”

Inside I laughed because everything she told me was very important to me. In fact, any time I visited Barbara I was guaranteed another two hours to three days of downtime just to understand what she told me. I don’t think she realized how profound her messages were.

But she was right that day, the message was very important. And to this day I’m still working with it, testing it and learning from it.

This is what she said, “I’m going to give you a secret to life. Between birth and death all we have our experiences and those experiences are created from choice. So you see our choices are very important, very important. We can make choices that will take us closer to the light, (we have right above our heads), or choices that keep us stuck in the dark. We must choose wisely.”

Choose wisely she said because this life is precious. And as I drove home that day I knew the words she said were true because only 3 months ago we had lost a dear family member when my Godfather made a very important choice of his own.

His untimely death appeared to even those who do not believe in the unseen, as a miracle. You see, weeks before he fell ill, his child who had been very ill for a long while received good news, he was in remission. In less than a month, the child’s father, my Godfather, passed away from the same type of illness.

And the impressions in my body and the pictures in my mind and the messages I got from others confirmed that my Godfather had indeed made a choice to make his transition with ease and grace to spare someone he loved.

Which brings me back to where I started my journey, with my grandfather, his choice, his courage and his grace. I didn’t ask to be an end-of-life guide but it was obviously who I needed to be in order to be reborn into a new life, the life I have today.

I’ve been touched by death in ways that have helped me choose more wisely and walk more gracefully when really hard challenges arise…and I am so grateful. I’ve left a lot behind last year, even though it was hard, really hard. And even though times were hard, I never felt alone. I wasn’t alone because I knew that even after death, the people we have walked with and the lessons we have learned from them live on, inside of us.

Don’t miss your opportunity to learn the lessons death has to offer you.

© 2017, All rights reserved, Janis Underwood

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