My Aunt Sheila (Sheila Brown Gilman) died yesterday. She was only 51 years old, yet it was her time. She had suffered the last few years with ALS (Lou Gehrigs diseas) & had lived in a Nursing Home for the last few months. Her death was a beautiful one as she stepped bravely through the veil between the worlds supported by loved ones on both sides. Friends and family surrounded her in the last hours of her life…laughing, sharing stories and even singing a little bit. Most of the people who came to sit with her in her last hours stayed, making it so the hospital had to move us to a bigger/family room. My sister Sandy & I assisted her crossing from the world of the Living, while my Father Richard (her brother) & Grammy Brown worked on the side of Spirit welcoming her.
Death is a friend of mine, one I feel a kinship to. My sister & I often refer to ourselves as Death Doulas or Spiritual Midwives to the Dying. It is a special honor to be present at someones Death. Just like birth people cannot pretend to be something or someone they are not when sitting in the presence of such life altering energy. I have no fear of Death, yet like everyone else I do mourn.
I will miss my Aunts laughter, in fact I have missed my Aunts laughter for some time already as she has struggled to find it these last few months. Sheila was a wild soul, one that was not completely tame. She loved fast cars…she really, really loved fast cars. In fact many of my memories of her involved vehicles. No matter what she was driving she drove it like a sports car…seat pushed back and pedal to the metal. She was only 7 years older then me so in many ways she was more like a big sister. Including having to grudgingly bring me along with her & her friends when we were children. She also loved cats in a serious way. Yesterday we all laughed that instead of a balloon launch, a release of 50 or so cats to the wild would be more appropriate…only then we had to retell the story, for Sheila would prefer that we took in 50 cats giving them homes and good food. But the thing she loved most was her daughter Morgan. She struggled to get pregnant & when she finally did there was nothing in this world that ever made her happier. Morgan was the center of her world & I have no doubt will be the center of her protection and love from the Spirit world. In fact within moments of her passing, Sheila was telling me “You need to let Morgan know I am OK”. I actually waited a few moments before telling Morgan this as Sheila had not technically been declared Dead yet.
Like Birth, Death is hard to predict. You can have a general round about idea that it is coming…but the exact moment and how it will arrive is a hard one. Morgan contacted us the night before letting us know that Sheila was in the hospital and the staff did not think it looked good. Her lungs had stopped working properly and she had gotten Pneumonia. Sheila had a DNR & did not want to be resuscitated should the need arrive. *I highly recommend DNR’s to any and all people who are suffering from a terminal illness. It guarantees that your wishes surrounding Death be carried out even if you are unable to speak them when your time arrives. It also gives peace of mind to your family, as they know they are doing what you would have wanted. Death is an emotional thing & it truly is helpful to be prepared. I know it was helpful to our family to know that we were following Sheilas wishes at the time of her crossing.* After hearing from Morgan I checked in with my Dad, surprised that I had not heard from him yet. He told me that her time was close, but it was not yet necessary to head to the hospital quite yet. Sandy & I waited until morning then headed overafter talking to Morgan, & our Ancestors.
When we arrived at 10:30, Sheila was surrounded by family (including her only living sibling/her brother Ed) & friends. She was also unconscious. We immediately set about making the space sacred, setting up a Family Altar & preparing Sheila for crossing; brushing her hair and anointing her hands & feet. After a few brief moments with Sheila/checking in on a Psychic level it was apparent that she was only partially in this world. Her Spirit was un-tethered and she was reliving moments of her past. As the day grew on, it seemed she was truly enjoying the feeling of family and friends surrounding her even though she was non responsive. She had always been a bit of a party-girl and loved people, so one last hurrah was good for her soul. My sister and I both felt that she would most likely pass at dusk when the sun began to set. We stepped out of the hospital a couple times during the day to get fresh air and some food, & each time we returned she was more detached. She had been moved to a larger room after our second outing & we now had enough space to sit comfortably around her. It was also obvious upon returning from our second bit of fresh air that something had changed and that most likely she would be leaving sooner then we thought. The room had taken on a thick feeling, that I often associate with Spirits coming to retrieve their own.
It was time for goodbyes…People often do not know what to do when awaiting Death. Emotions are high & the ability to express them not always at our disposal. My sister and I made space & time for everyone present to have a few minutes with her alone…to say whatever needed saying or just simply sit quietly giving love. I personally believe this is important and often helpful to the person who is dying. Even if they are not apparently conscious. Letting the ones you love know how you feel and that you are wishing them blessings on their journey to the Spirit World is important & it does help the Soul release.
After everyone had said their goodbyes we surrounded Sheila once again and put on a bit of REO Speedwagon. She loved music…classic rock and a good bit of sappy, both fit her well. Sandy & I held her hands as the room became even thicker with Spirit and we sang to her as she crossed over. She popped out of her body easily to the waiting embrace of my Dad & Grammy Brown. She truly rocked her death, letting go like a shooting star. It was a beautiful moment and I feel blessed to have been a part of it. We honored her body, by washing it and anointing it with oil ourselves. We believe their is something sacred and right about personally preparing the body of your loved ones for Death. It is a way of giving thanks to the body that supported them for their years upon this planet. It is also a very beautiful way of saying goodbye.
I would like to thank all of you who sent love, set up Altars and joined our family in helping our Aunt cross into Spirit. May your families experience such beauty, love & healing whenever Death comes calling. I hope you enjoyed the read folks.