In 1999, during a family celebration , my 81-year-old father collapsed. He was rather frail, after having had a mild stroke a few years before, so of course we called 911. The hospital released him after a series of tests and decided nothing “new” or “life threatening” had occurred. However, somewhere deep down inside me, I knew that we were beginning our journey into the final chapter of his life – and he died nine months later.
During those nine months I became very frustrated with my own ability to connect with and care for my father, even though I spent a great deal of time with him. As I look back, I find it ironic that we “prepare” to bring a life into this world for nine joyous months, but are totally unprepared to help our loved ones “leave.”
As a culture, most of us feel inadequate in our own abilities to care for or mentally prepare ourselves and our loved ones for death, so we rely solely on others. A year later I learned about Reiki and hands-on energy work. I realized that Reiki would give me the tools to help sick or elderly people in the way I so wanted to help my father. During my Reiki Master training, I began volunteer hospice work to increase my understanding, and today I work with terminally ill patients, hospice volunteers and many people who want to learn to use Reiki in caring for their own relatives.
I teach my students how to transfer this warm, healing energy through their hands. Reiki provides what is called a “full body treatment”, but when visiting a friend or relative in the hospital, even the simple act of holding a hand can begin the transfer of this relaxing, healing energy flow.
What a wonderful gift to be able to help someone totally relax during chemotherapy, feel more comfortable after surgery, or let them feel the warmth of Reiki energy at their shoulders or feet, even when they are sensitive to touch.
At higher Reiki levels, the energy is administered to specific areas for pain relief, to help the body heal from surgeries, to boost the immune system, and to align the body’s energies. I also show my students how they can help someone to totally relax through Reiki meditations or guided visualizations of healing.
But for me, the greatest gift of Reiki, has been in watching the “connection” that can be made by loved ones even when they are sleeping or unconscious. In those precious last days before we leave this physical body, there is much spiritual work being done. Creating a peaceful, calm atmosphere through Reiki often allows loved ones to share in the emotional and spiritual healings that are occurring.
A Special Gift…
I now know that feeling pushed to find a way to feel closer to my dad at the time of his death was the final gift my father gave me. I feel very strongly that energy work has an important role in all places of caretaking, be it hospitals, assisted living centers, clinics, private homes and especially in hospice. I have put my experiences of being with people and Reiki Journeying to help them spiritually connect in my book… Embracing the End-of-Life Journey.