Holding Sacred Space for the Dying
“I will never forget how we changed this room from a place of burden to a place of glory.” – Megory Anderson
Creating and holding sacred space for someone who is ill or dying is a simple but powerful tool. The holding of sacred space separates the area surrounding the dying from the outside world. It produces a healing environment that is safe and peaceful. We create this sacred space with intention and grace.
While there are many ways to open sacred space, the results are the same. The person being held senses the calm, nurturing embrace.
How would you choose to open sacred space for yourself or for others?
It is important to respect the spiritual beliefs of your clients, friends and family members. Sacred space for them may be quite different than your personal sacred space.
One of my clients who suffered from a stroke had, in the past sang in a Lutheran choir. I brought a selection of songs with me when I visited. After several sessions I got to know her favorites. For the next year, as she declined, I opened sacred space with one of her favorite songs. I often closed sacred space with a psalm from the Bible.
Another of my clients was a scientist who had no spiritual philosophy. “What you see is what you get,” he would say to me. I created a way to open “sacred” space just for him
by calling in elements from the Periodic Table. I called on:
Carbon, king of the elements;
Oxygen, for the air we breathe;
Hydrogen that bonds to form the waters;
Nitrogen that flies in like lightning;
Silicon to hold us from below; and
Helium, to connect us to the stars.
He, laughed at my metaphors but he loved it because science was his way of perceiving the world. I had no doubt that when I held him in his sacred space as he was actively dying that he knew we were all there to escort him to the threshold of death.
To learn more about holding sacred space for the dying, I highly recommend Sacred Dying, Creating Rituals for Embracing the End of Life by Megory Anderson.