Talking about Death and Dying
I find that two things happen when I tell people I’m a widow, those same two things happen when they find out I’m a hospice nurse. Either they come closer to share their own story about death and dying or they pull away. Really, it’s more like running away! However, for those that do stay to chat we have a very intimate and meaningful exchange. Talking about death and dying always leaves me feeling inspired and more present to my daily life! I know that sounds ironic but it’s true. So today I offer you the challenge of speaking about this topic with someone who needs to talk about it. And YOU may be that someone. Think about what you’d like to say, to whom you’d like to say it and imagine the beautiful possibility of getting to the other side of that conversation feeling more connected, more free, more open, more alive, and more at peace.
1) Take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings ~ this is your experience, claim it fully, don’t shy away from the chance to get to know yourself better
2) Speak using I language not “you did this” or “you know when you…” ~ we often revert to “you” language to separate ourselves from our own feelings and unfortunately it has become a habitual way of communicating for most people
3) Be willing to feel your feelings ~ not to get lost in them, but to honor them and allow them to move through you
4) Be mindful of defense mechanisms or old coping strategies that come forward as a way to “protect” you ~ notice if you are quick to defend yourself with an opposing statement, or you don’t let the other person finish their sentence before you jump in
5) Trust your own inner guidance and inner strength ~ our individual resources are phenomenal, most of us have not been taught how to listen to ourselves and use our innate wisdom to help navigate our lives
6) Acknowledge yourself and the other person for creating the opportunity for a meaningful exchange ~ say thank you, say what you appreciate about yourself and the other
7) Keep trying ~ no matter what.
8) Create a safe space to talk and set an intention for the conversation (you can even share it with the other person!) ~ set an environment that is conducive to a private talk and before you get started set the context for something powerful, meaningful, and transformation to happen (if often does)
Though my specialty IS death and dying, these tips apply to any type of conversation you’d like to broach. Conversations like this take practice and openness, so keep practicing. Anyone can learn to communicate better. A large part of communicating with clarity and respect is understanding your own style and patterns of communicating. What I am saying today is…why wait? I Imagine there are 100’s of conversations waiting for each of you. Good luck and blessings.
It may not be easy but it’s worth it.
BSN, RN, MA Coach, Consultant, Transition Specialist
"My Dance with Death" WWW.LaurelLLewis.com
Originally from the Southern state of Mississippi, Laurel received a BS degree in nursing in 1994. She was married and widowed all by the age of 27, which radically shifted her path and her perspective on life and death. Since then she has been on a spiritual quest learning how to integrate complicated end of life issues into daily grace and full living.