‘GOODBYE, SORRY, THANK YOU, I LOVE YOU’
So successful was the Shining Light on Death one-day programme in July 2018 that an evening follow-up event was held on 21st November 2018 to allow for more conversations on the taboo subject of death and dying.
Leaflet of the event: Please click here
Dr Eagger, Chair of the Janki Foundation, welcomed everyone and introduced Suja Chandran, a senior social worker at Kings Hospital in South London who interviewed the guest speakers, Bridget Haley and Dr Sue Morrison.
Bridget Haley, director of the Sacred Care Project initiated in the US, spoke of her part in working with people who are dying, principally through creating a sacred emotional space in which the essential loving and compassionate natures of the person near death and their family are allowed and, indeed encouraged to emerge. Formerly a nurse in the UK Bridget noted that the natural process of dying is in general not coped with very well by family members and healthcare professionals.
Sue Morrison, a retired London GP, had similar observations of healthcare professionals and described how she created workshops for health practitioners moving away from diagnostic questioning and ‘being the expert’ towards acknowledging the full emotional and spiritual complexity of the process of dying for everyone involved. She asks doctors to consider their own mortality and mentioned some recent developments in the field such as Death Matters and Death Cafes, forums where people can speak openly with each other.
Both speakers mentioned a series of processes which may co-exist: moving from the chaos of modern life (surviving and being pushed on by the ego) to finally surrendering, releasing the ego and deeply accepting the end of life.
Sue mentioned that most health workshops are transactional (‘information is harvested – we leave wiser’) rather than transformative which, through addressing difficult questions is the purpose of death workshops.
Maureen Goodman, Program Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, augmented what had been shared by describing her own experiences of being present at end of life ceremonies, and made the point that funerals can be beautiful experiences, true celebrations of lives lived.
To watch the full seminar Please click here
Gil Fernandez accompanied the evening with violin music helping to create what was a deeply reflective and intimate event.
Footnote: Different cultures cope with death and dying, unsurprisingly, in different ways. This heartening event gave people time to reflect on their unique perspectives and ask some difficult questions which were sensitively handled by both speakers and audience.