I have gained a better understanding of myself because of this class. “Dying Consciously” is very much about “Living Consciously,” bringing gratitude forward in one’s awareness — gratitude for others, and for life itself. I wouldn't have missed it for anything!
The course offers a broad historical and cultural perspective on the universal experience of dying. For those of us tending to and working with the dying, it provides valuable tools and resources that have an immediate beneficial impact and help us understand important emotional and spiritual processes leading up to death.
For me, perhaps the most useful resource was a little book titled "Attending the Dying" by Megory Anderson. The book was both a guidebook and a map of where we were in each step of my mother-in-law's transition into leaving her life. It helped my family enormously and reassured us that we were indeed doing what we needed to do to meet her needs. The book and the Dying Consciously course opened a new understanding for me on help and healing for the dying. I am forever grateful.
— Elisabeth Lee, Ph.D.
Awaken New Compassion
When I took the Dying Consciously class, I had no idea what it was about or whether I would find it interesting and useful. Some of the language used in the publicity flyer was unfamiliar and frankly seemed a bit "new agey," whatever that means. That class and subsequent classes and ceremonies I took with Kitty were life changing for me. Kitty has a gift for creating an environment of openness, safety and nurturance.
After the first class experience I was launched on a journey of caretaking. I witnessed the dying process of my closest friend. Then another friend required my assistance. This time I was the medical power of attorney so I was responsible for her care. The Dying Consciously class enabled me to be present, attentive and grateful to accompany these folks in their transitions.
The classes and experiences with Kitty are deeply spiritual and transformational for anyone, regardless of religious or cultural backgrounds. The ritual around self-protection has given me some tools to face subsequent personal and national tragedies without falling into despair. If “new age” means developing new skills that help to awaken new compassion and new consciousness of our connection to ancient wisdoms and to the energy and spirit of all things, then we all might hope to enter this "new age."
— Maddie Estin
A Beautiful Gift
Saying a final farewell to a loved one can be a heart breaking and heart opening process. As a clergy person, I have often found people uncomfortable and ill at ease with the dying. Religious communities know how to memorialize someone after they die. They are often at a loss to help those that are dying, their family and friends move through the last months and days with grace, love and deep healing.
The Dying Consciously program gives a simple, heart opening vocabulary of words and experiences to companion everyone during the dying process. Death can be a beautiful culmination of life for all involved as we learn how to honor the deep truths of a dying person’s whole life and our relationship with them. Allowing ourselves to be in each other’s true presence is the greatest gift we can share, and the Dying Consciously program helps this happen. Its wisdom teaches us how to open our hearts and souls to each other as we walk together towards a last earthly breath. It is a beautiful gift that provides ways to become fully alive in the midst of dying.
— Rev. Peg Stearn, UCC Minister
Full Expression of Our Prayers
With the unexpected loss of the patriarch of our family, there were so many words that were left unspoken. To come together in ceremony, honoring and remembering how he touched our lives helped us through the grieving process. Together, we were able to express our love and gratitude for all he brought to our lives, and were able to come closer as a family. Not only did we express our love for him, we said things to one another that we thought we could never say. This alone brought decades of healing.
Our family has never been spiritual, so we were concerned about how the process would be received. By the time we were halfway through the aya despacho ceremony, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone was fully engaged and touched more deeply than we could have imagined. We have all been transformed profoundly by this experience and feel better knowing that the full expression of our prayers, love and gratitude for all he brought to our lives were buried with him.
— The Family of Harold H. Corhan
Sense of Place
My grandmother and I were very close. She died within weeks of my attending a class in Dying Consciously. I was fortunate to spend time with her every day in those last weeks.
My experiences and lessons in Dying Consciously gave me a language for understanding what was not only happening to my grandmother, but to myself and my family as well. It gave me a sense of place in a shifting unfamiliar landscape and opened me up to possibilities that my heart just hadn't held room for before.
I know that if I get the chance to attend to a dying loved one again, it will be a different experience from this one. However, the skill set and basic shift in awareness this workshop provided me will carry forward, if I let it. That time with my grandmother was a gift, and the tools I had for being there were integral to my ability to be present.