When I’m asked what I do, and I answer that I’m a hospice physician, I often feel a sudden downward energetic shift, a palpable sense of sobering, like everyone’s being brought back in to the reality that we must die. I’m then often told, “Thank you for what you do,” and, “I don’t know how you do what you do.” My answer is most often the same, the honest truth, “I love my work.”
How can this be? How can it be that I love my daily dealings with death? How is it possible at all to appreciate death? It’s all in the attitude and the deeper understanding.
Dying gets a bad rap because it is the unknown, because it is associated with tough symptomatic decline, it is seen as the end. But death, just like birth, while physically complex, is a transformative spiritual process, perhaps the liberation of the soul, a liberation that the soul possibly yearned for, while trapped in physical form on earth.
We are probably too simple, too unable to transcend our physical and sensory limitations to even understand the true meaning of our mortality. Mortality is a constant for every living thing in our known world. There may be immortality but we do not yet partake of it - or at least are not conscious enough to understand if it is that which occurs to us after dying. Are we immortal or not? Is death a mirage? Is death actually the answer to our liberation? Why are we in human form? Why do we degrade? Why do we die? Every question like this should make us realize that the full story on death is sorely lacking; and that the truth which we need to seek must be incredibly mind-blowing.
I choose to want to think about these deeper questions. I choose to want to understand as much as I humanly can, about the perplexing things in the universe. I also choose to see the miraculous in everything - even the miraculousness of death. When I manage a death, I am in awe of the process, wanting to pay it my full respects and manage it as well as I can. It is this which motivates me, a deep desire to understand death better in order to help us suffer less. Because that is the key, what is unknown by most: seeking to understand and appreciate death enrichens you as a human being.
And how can I not love that?