- Oceana Sawyer: In Death We Find Truth and Possibility. Patrick Huey 45:55
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Millions of little children have said this prayer on their knees at bedtime. Eyes closed. Fingers and palms gently intertwined under their chins. Parents lovingly watching from a slight distance. Perhaps allowing the child her first taste of intellectual and spiritual freedom. A melancholic freedom. A lamentation, because you are talking to the Lord about your death and the care of your soul, after all.
But what is death? In Hamlet, Shakespeare describes it as a prison house with tales that freeze the blood and can make your hair stand on end. An undiscovered country filled with will-puzzling terrors from which no traveler returns. The Psalmists in Psalms 23 describe it as the journey through a valley in the Judean Desert Wilderness on the road to Jericho. The Valley of the Shadow of Death. Metaphorically walking through a troubled and dark time, but having no fear because God is with you, fighting the slings and arrows that come your way. Carl Jung’s view of death is that of a destination for the second half of life; an instinctual, inevitable goal, not a state to be feared or denied.
Oceana Swayer has a unique and highly developed view of what death and dying is. As she says of her role as an End-of-Life Doula and author of the unexpected book Life, Death, Grief & the Possibility of Pleasure, “The work I do… is essentially a role that is associated with the person who is actually dying, no one else, just the person who’s dying. And the job in that role is to make sure that they are having the kind of death that they want to have and that’s it. That’s all there is… and that’s a lot.” Having been witness to so many souls at they transition from life into death, her view of death isn’t tied up in the culture wars of religion or the haggling of heirs over who gets what China sets. Missing from her work are platitudes and uncomfortable sympathies. She talks in surprising terms about the sensuality and the pleasure of death as the portal opens, time suspends, and the dying becomes the dead.
In her final analysis, death is a moment for the dying to be seen. It is their moment of truth. A truth that allows for the generation of more creativity and yes life. For how we live is a harbinger of how we will surely die. What is on the other side of that remains the domain of the poets and the saints.
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For more information contact Patrick at email@example.com