Using Subtle Tools To Help Process A Life

I was visiting with a friend today about aging and looking at life. She used the words “building blocks” to describe the various and numerous life events we all have from birth to the present. These key events have determined who we have become, the life experiences that, put together, have created who we are.

It is these building blocks that all of us will examine as we approach the end of our life. We will examine them if not on a conscious level then on an unconscious level.

When gradual death begins, through disease or old age, our mind turns to “what have I done, who have I touched?” We may share those thoughts or we may keep them in the recesses of our being, but they will be there.

For those of us working with end of life, part of our job is to know those thoughts will be present and to watch for the opportunity to listen to them. Notice I used the word “listen.” I didn’t say “address.” 

In the months before death when the patient is still alert, still actively engaging, watch for clues, for openings to help bring the "what has life been about" thoughts forward and shared. As part of our end of life education of the family, we also guide them to the subtle tools for life processing. 

As family and significant others we can guide our special one just as professionals can. During the months before death we can help them process their life, to look at their building blocks. This can be done by reminiscing, sharing life stories, asking questions, and looking at scrap books.  

When labor begins, weeks before death, it is too late to have thoughtful conversations. The thoughts haven’t stopped, but now the processing is being done inside where there is only room for one.

During the hours to minutes before death is our last opportunity to address the building blocks. The person who is dying will be non responsive, but I believe they can hear. Take this final opportunity to talk to the person alone. Touch them, hold their hand, even sit or lay beside them and begin talking to them. Talk about the good times, talk about the challenging times your relationship has experienced. Talk about love, about disagreements, about fears, about gratitudes, about the building blocks.

Life is like a billion piece jigsaw puzzle and for months now your special person has been trying to put the pieces of their life together. You have helped by sharing, by being there.

Something more about... Using Subtle Tools To Help Process A Life

When families sit and watch NEW RULES for End of Life Care together conversations about everything from pain medications for comfort to do having the dog on the bed during those last days.  When the 25 minute film begins it is common for everyone's shoulders to be high and tight and by the end families are more relaxed and calm.  That's when good discussions start.

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Julie LaFond

How do you suggest I work toward becoming an end of life doula? I have been drawn toward this work for many, many years. I have “lost” all of my family over the last 50 years, since age 23, and I am very tender with those who grieve.
I want to be trained by a highly regarded organization. I am 75 years young with time, heart & mind to endeavor to create compassionate care for families.
BK Books replied:
Hi Julie, here is blog I wrote addressing your very question of how to become an End of Life Doula. Also read everything you can find on end of life. Blessings to you! Barbara

Julie LaFond

Your booklet, Gone from My Sight, given to me by my sister’s hospice nurse was a mystery solved. I arrived from CA to FL after my sister passed; before reading your guide, I didn’t understand that she had been leaving us for months. I was initially so shocked, saddened and angry that no one warned me. Thank you for helping me understand her process, her husband’s denial and my initial anger. I have become more compassionate with the dying process and all those who walk their own stories through life AND death.
Bless you, Barbara; your service to me is beyond gratitude!
BK Books replied:
Hi Julie, Knowledge of the dying process helps us understand what is unfolding is normal, sad, but not bad. Thank you for sharing with me. Blessings! Barbara

Mary Annoni

The article is what I have been thinking about lately because I really see changes within me.
BK Books replied:
Hi Mary, I don’t know how old you are but we elders naturally have thoughts about what our life has been about. Blessings to you. Barbara


Thank are SO spot on..
I could see what you are conveying….my mind splashed back to those days and all nighters of my dad talking obsesently for hours!! Love hearing about his past life experiences…
BK Books replied:
Thanks for your comments. Blessings! Barbara

Carl Laughead

At a visit with my Psychologist today.
Short back story, I lost my wife 5/25/21, we had been married 50 years, Your booklet Gone From My Sight, was given to me by Michael Demoratz, a Hospice Social Worker, the day before her passing.
Since, on 7/21/22, I’ve relocated from our home of 50 years and moved to a place called “Freedom Village, Lake Forest, CA.” A move after 50 years is loaded with all kinds of dynamics, both mentally and physically. Anyhow, the psychologist said today, you’ve come a long way (I’ve been seeing her for 1 year, Aug. 4, 2021).
Today, she picked up a book, thumbed the pages and said “You’re Starting A New Chapter In Life,” rather telling in her description. High School, College, Marriage, etc., now I’m moving to an Independent Living Facility.
Just wanted to share the moment from my visit with the Psychologist today, and say thank you for your booklets My Friend, I Care & Gone From My Sight, in addition to your weekly blogs.
Carl Laughead

BK Books replied:
Hi Carl, you have been doing good work in living your life forward. It sounds like Freedom Village will be a great “next chapter”. Blessings! Barbara

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