by Gladys Osborne Leonard
This last week of my husband's earth life was not an unhappy period, yet one could not help feeling the inevitable sadness of the parting to come—obviously so soon. There was a peace in the air which had been lacking during the long months of trying to fight pain and discomfort, often unavailingly. Possibly our efforts had held a quality of stress, which never helps to create an atmosphere of peace.
Many times I repeated to myself the words:
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Here l want to give a word of advice—advice that at one time I should have thought to have been unnecessary, but experience has shown me that it is badly needed. When the time of severance draws near, the soul and mind of the patient need absolute peace. Very often someone tiptoes quietly into the sick-room, and holds a whispered conversation with the nurse, or whoever is in attendance. The conversation may be about the patient, or it may drift from him to other things. Whatever the subject may be, don't talk about it in the room. Go outside and discuss it.
You may think the patient is unconscious, or partly so, and doesn't know what is happening. No, his conscious mind may not be cognizant, but now his unconscious or subjective mind is gradually coming to the surface. That greater part of the mind that cannot express itself through the limited physical brain is now beginning to assert itself. It is the soul mind, and because the soul is beginning to detach itself from the earthly body, the subjective or larger mind finds itself functioning imperfectly and intermittently in both bodies.
Probably it functions more completely in the etheric brain and body, but until the etheric is permanently dissociated from the physical, this mind will find itself occasionally floating into the physical brain, and recording flashes of awareness as to what is happening to, or around, the physical body. At this juncture, it is most important that whatever is being done or said, or even thought in the room, should be directed towards the patient to help him, and should not degenerate into a kind of trivial chatter about the patient, or any other topic. if this is allowed, he will be disturbed, puzzled, and in an effort to understand what is going on around him, his mind will fasten on to the physical brain more tenaciously than is good for it.
All our efforts should now be concentrated on making it easy for the soul and mind to free themselves from the physical. Mind—we must not try to do it for him—thot would be unwarrantable interference with the natural progress of events, but we must do all in our power to assist the patient's soul to do it for itself. This is the chief thing we must aim at. Well-meaning people have often taken God's will into their own hands. Their attitude toward the patient has been, "Poor soul! It's time he went. The sooner the better for him. We must pray, and concentrate on him being taken quickly—to save him further suffering," and so on.
Their motive is good, but the result is that some part of the sub~consciousness is aroused—that portion of it that has been labelled "self-preservation," or "the first law of nature" and which is always fighting to preserve its hold on the physical body. It is a very strong instinct indeed, as we realize when we remember the automatic action of raising one's arm to avoid a blow before we are consciously aware that there is anything to be avoided. The closing up of the eye to the invading fly or speck of dust. Instinct is not one of the highest attributes of our minds, but while e inhabit the earthly body it is a very strong and insistent one‘.
When death is near, it rouses itself at the slightest provocation, just when it is most important that the soul should go on its course of freedom, peacefully, and without hindrance, so we must aim at not giving it any provocation.The detached and impersonal attitude of the professional nurse, which sometimes strikes one as being unsympathetic and cold, is much to be preferred to some of the fussy, though well-meant attentions of fond and anxious relatives. The perfect condition — whenever circumstances permit it — would be that whoever is attending the patient should be someone who understands the mental and etheric side of death as well as the merely physical. The perfect programme of behaviour at such a time would be for this wise person to take entire charge. (Probably it would be a woman, though what I have to say could just as easily apply to a man, but for our purpose I will refer to this person in the feminine gender.)
Her aims would be to think hopeful and encouraging thoughts toward the soul of the patient. If she cannot originate them she can fall back for inspiration on some of the reassuring passages in the Scriptures, or extracts from any good book on Spiritual matters which contain references to the happier side of the change we call Death. Any thoughts she can quietly, easily transmit will encourage and assist the soul in its efforts to liberate itself. Love will give the necessary understanding. How wonderful if we were to someday combine a course of spiritual training alongside the usual material side of a nurse's (and doctor's) training! I have known many women who look upon the work of nursing as a holy mission, and would welcome such a course.
As Keble said:
There are in this loud, stunning tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of the everlasting chime;
Who carry music in their heart
Through dusty lane and wrangling mart,
Plying their daily toil with busier feet
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.
Yes, there are many who would fain carry the "music in their hearts, and the holy strain” to all who need it, and such a possession need not interfere with the practical common sense that is necessary for carrying out what are called the more practical, mundane side of nursing. We should find ourselves more easily able to "p|y the daily toil with busier feet" in consequence of our spiritual knowledge. While we are awaiting this state of affairs—a balance of physical and spiritual knowledge in medicine and nursing——we must just do our best with the material to hand. It is wonderful how insight and intuition can spring from love, and teach the unskilled exactly what to do!
Was not Longfellow right in saying: . ‘
Ah, how skilful grows the hand
That obeyeth love's command!
It is the heart and not the brain,
That to the highest doth attain,
And he who followeth love's behest
Far excelleth all the rest!
So if you are not skilled nor clever nor experienced, you can still do so much, so very much, to make that passing a thing of beauty and of ease if you choose. Just the same quiet, careful attitude that you would adopt to a child who is learning to walk, or to essay any new task. The average soul is exactly in the position of a child in its relation to its new life. Remember there are other souls waiting to help; souls who are already in the Great Beyond, and are even now waiting to assist the new arrival as soon as he frees himself. Loving hands are stretched out, beckoning the tired and weary soul to a place of peace; "Some sheltering shade where sin and striving cease," as Wordsworth said. We must co-operate with those unseen helpers. They long for us to do so, and if we lift up our hearts and minds in simple expectation we shall find that they will impress us what to do for the best.
"He will give His Angels charge over thee" is literally true, especially in this critical period when the two states we call Life and Death draw so near to one another that for a short time we can scarely percieve the dividing border line. Toward the end of my husband's last week on earth I was sitting alone with him. He had fallen into one of those easy, peaceful dozes to which he had been a stranger for so long. I had given him drinks of water, put through a small filter, and very little solid food. He persistently reminded me not to press food on him, but to give him more water. This was very unlike him, because, as I remarked before, he liked food and strong tea; he disliked water by itself. I also followed my impressions with regard to not talking about him, or about other things in the room, but talking to him whenever advisable. Sometimes I just sat quietly by his side, saying nothing, but thinking to him. I am sure this is the most helpful attitude toward a dying person that we can adopt, viz. talking quietly and hopefully to him whenever it is evident that he wishes, or is able to listen, and when he cannot do so, one should choose one's thoughts carefully. There is little doubt that the loosened soul picks up and reacts to every thought in its environment. It becomes increasingly sensitive to thoughts until the final severance, when it is usually quietly taken away by those Others who have come to help with that purpose in view.
As I sat and watched, he awoke and stretched out his hand, reaching for mine. In a feeble but distinct voice he said: "I have been again to that beautiful place, but I don't want to go to it without you. I didn't know I had to go there alone." In all my life, those were the most sad and difficult words to which I ever had to listen. I sat speechless, realising that at last the spirit friends and helpers Over There had broken the dread news to my husband that he had to go to the new and beautiful country alone, leaving me behind. He had always disliked leaving me—even for a day! And now he had been told that he must leave me and make his home alone, in this other place.
Again he spoke. "I want to stay with you. These other people are very kind to me. They are all right to me, but I don't want to go alone and leave you. Can't I stay with you , darling? I don't want to stay with them without you." I did not know what to say. The words came pleadingly from his lips. His hand feebly clung to mine. His face turned toward me, eyes too tired to open wide, but trying so hard to look at my face, and read there the answer to his question.
A sharp, swift prayer shot straight from my heart, asking for help, guidance, as to what I should say to him. He was begging for my assurance that we should not be parted, but how could I tell him a reassuring lie? A lie, in these last solemn, sacred hours?
George Eliot's words came to my mind:
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel
that they are joined for life—to strengthen each other in all
labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each
other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent,
unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?
So how could I smirch those memories with evas ion or deliberate untruth? Strength and courage came back to me, and I answered, "lf you have to go alone, remember it will only be for a little while. Someday I shall go, too, and join you; and in the meantime you will be able to keep in touch with me, and I shall try and live on here in the manner you would wish. Hold hard to the thought that even if you are going first, I shall follow you later, whenever it is the right time."
He did not answer, neither did he refer to it again.
Gladys Osborne Leonard was one of the best Trance Mediums of the 20th century. The above excerpt ist from her Book THE LAST CROSSING - 1937
The page 30 and following is taken from the The Complete Gladys Osborne Leonard
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