When I went through Hospice Volunteer Training, one of the principles we learned was about the importance of Presence. We were taught that the most important thing we could do for someone who is dying, is just “be there”. You don’t have to say anything wise or do anything profound; just be a compassionate presence, as a fellow human traveler. That is most important and best thing possible.
“Healing presence is the condition of being consciously and compassionately in the present moment with another , believing in and affirming their potential for wholeness, wherever they are in life.” ( The Art of Being a Healing Presence – A Guide for Those in Caring Relationshipsby James E. Miller and Susan Cutshall)
What we see on the outside of a person, their body, be they healthy or dying, is just a shell or a mask. The true presence in each of us is the light and energy inside. When someone dies, you can see that energy vanish as it leaves the body. I like to imagine it rejoining the stream of energy that is the Spirit of the Universe, or whatever name you like to give it.
When we are truly present with another person, it is our internal spirit or energy that reaches out from behind our mask to make compassionate contact with the presence behind the shell of the other. That connection is a healing presence.
I remember holding this picture in my mind as I visited my mother, who was suffering from chronic pain and depression. I needed to let go of my need to fix what was wrong. I could not fix it. What my mother needed the most from me was to be there, to witness her distress, see past the surface to her spirit, and let her know that she was loved.
This picture was my attempt to visualize what I needed to do on my next visit.