2021 - June - Gazette - Intimacy with Disappearance

By: Jackie Naginey Hook
Thursday, June 24, 2021

Intimacy with Disappearance

In his meditation on vulnerability, poet and author David Whyte wrote:

“…The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.”

I’ve had the honor of spending time with people who’ve chosen to inhabit their vulnerability and become intimate with disappearance as generous citizens of loss – their own disappearance and that of others. I think David Whyte is correct, these people have become “larger and more courageous and more compassionate.”

For some, this intimacy with disappearance has been about considering their own death and planning for it. Although the fact that we all will die resides mostly at an unconscious level, some people choose to engage with it and think about its implications. This can include reviewing appropriate legal documents, organizing important items and preplanning with a funeral director. 

My parents have taken part in this process and have given a gift that keeps on giving. They met with Glenn Fleming of Koch Funeral Home and talked about their many options, such as, burial versus cremation, types of services and prepayment choices. They used an AARP resource entitled Organize Documents and listed personal, medical, financial and insurance information as well as where to find specific documents and items. They invited me into conversations about all of these things and explained their wishes. This gift keeps on giving because it gave us meaningful moments as we talked about these important issues. It gives us peace of mind now knowing these issues have been addressed and we know where to go to find what we need. And it will give us comfort in the future since we’ll be able to focus on honoring their lives and our grief while knowing we’re fulfilling their wishes. I’m grateful for my parent’s largeness, courage and compassion.

For others I’ve spent time with, this intimacy with disappearance has been about preparing for their own or a loved one’s death. When death is approaching, as an end-of-life doula, I invite people to think about nesting – providing a protective outer layer to keep out what is not needed and a soft inner layer to nurture those inside. I facilitate conversations about what matters most, deepest desires and resolving regrets, unfinished business, guilt and shame. People on this journey use words like beauty and meaningful to describe the dying transition. It takes much largeness, courage and compassion to be present to all of this.

Still others, experience this intimacy with disappearance as they reconcile to a life without their loved one. It can be a painful journey and one mourners would rather trade for the return of their loved one, but becoming larger and more courageous and compassionate are ways grief can transform people.

If you would like to have these kinds of conversations about dying death and grief, you are invited to the following gatherings:

For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH.

We hope you make the choice to “walk fully through the door.”

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

 

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