One of the most common responses I used to get from people when they found out I worked with hospice was, That must be depressing. I was never quite sure how to answer that.
Because it wasn’t depressing at all. It was a whole lot of other things; hard, heartbreaking, inspiring, curious, overwhelming, humorous, wonderful, challenging, exhausting, transformative, and ultimately very, very uplifting.
But never depressing. Not once. And I’m a depressive.
I’ve been riding the cycles of major depressive episodes for almost two decades but, far from aggravating the symptoms, hanging around with dying people actually helped. They showed me what it can look like, living in the world of no-cure. How being incurable in no way limits the ability to make your miracles.
I’d always thought the dying were about-as-good-as-dead, so imagine my surprise to discover they’re actually still very much alive. In some ways more than most people. Dying didn’t suppress their ability to live, it enhanced it. They still felt everything we all do, only times a million. They were throbbing with life. Writhing and radiant from it. The fact that some of that life was transcendent love and some was sheer hell was incidental.
Life has always been a package deal.
So anyway, I’ve never been able to explain this beautiful side of dying with words. But here’s a video called The Unseen Sea by Simon Christen that captures the essence of it. This is how it felt during the hours I spent with them, turning and toileting, bathing and dressing, capturing all the last whispered, aching, illuminated stories of their lives. It often felt like floating on an ocean, carried along by some timeless, perpetual current that ebbed and flowed, swirling around us, filmy and comforting and soft.
This is some stunning time lapse photography of the changing skies around San Francisco. Just make sure you turn up the sound because the music is exquisite, too.The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.
You can find the original posting of this video at Simon Christen’s Vimeo site here.
copyright 2010 Dia Osborn
Dia, would you mind if I shared your blog on FB? Each time I read one of your posts I want to share, but feel that perhaps you’d rather be more discriminating about your audience.
Linda really…I’m thrilled you’d want to pass a post around. Please feel free. My hope is always that something I write might help with some of the generalized fear around dying. WordPress has a few Share options…I’m not sure exactly how they work but the buttons for them are directly under each post. One is for Facebook. You can try it if you like (let me know if it works?) or what ever way feels easiest. Thanks so much for all your kind comments! Dia
I will reply to this blog after I have a think about it
I would love to chew the fat with you oer a beer
would be interesting
I’ve often felt the same John. Alas for the roughly 5,000 miles between. Even beer can’t close that kind of gap.
Dia, I just posted this to my FB wall. I wonder what will happen now?
Whoa!! I’ve been getting a lot of hits, that’s what. Thanks Linda! That’s so cool.
BTW, I haven’t been coming to the writing group because the book is simmering on the back burner right now. It doesn’t feel right coming just with what I’m writing here on the blog. But the book has finally been firming a little in my mind, I’m getting clearer on a structure, and I want to pick it up again next year. It’s gonna take some extensive rewriting unfortunately but what else is new? 🙂 Dia