The first of 3 Shining Light on Death workshops was held at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, facilitated by Nirmala Ragbir-Day, the Trust’s Spiritual Care Training Co-ordinator. The group of 24 participants recapped an earlier workshop on Death and Dying held in April 2019 which looked at the topic of death and dying in a positive way. Mike Gartland ,Head of Pastoral and Spiritual Care, began by reading the following poem by Mary Oliver.
When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
The deeply affecting poem was explored in smaller groups. After discussion about what a good death might be there was lunch-time meditation and lighting of a candle in memory of departed loved ones in the Chapel. Sharing thoughts, ideas and life journeys with others and the need to prepare for eventual death was found by all to be very beneficial.