Daring to be Present


Do you remember the first time you sat with a person who was close to death?

“The first dying person I sat with was a young man, a twenty-eight year-old cancer patient. He was the same age I was at the time. He had been in the hospital for many weeks for treatments to gain more time. His girlfriend had asked me to visit him when she learned that I was training as a hospice volunteer.

Entering his barren, whitewashed hospital room, I felt utterly helpless and alone. The only thing I could do was to sit at his side and be present.

Death touches us all. At some point in our lives, most of us will find ourselves in the presence of someone who is facing death—a family member, friend, neighbor, or patient. Accompanying the dying, whatever our role, challenges us to be authentically and compassionately present and, ultimately, to look into the mirror of death ourselves and face the uncomfortable truth of our own mortality.

When we are with someone who is dying, we are challenged to be present even though we may feel powerless, to stay when we want to run, to love while loss is just around the corner, and to be fully alive to every moment as time is running out.

Daring to be present might be the hardest thing we have ever done in our lives; and, we may come to discover, one of the most intimate, beautiful, and rewarding…”

Excerpt from Present Through The End. A Caring Companion’s Guide To Accompanying The Dying by Kirsten DeLeo. Order your copy now and get 30% off at shambhala.com, code: PTE30.