No matter which of these two tools you choose the results are the same, we get to avoid the discomfort of what we are really facing. In many circles we are not willing to take away from folks these two ineffective tools because we seem them as softening the blow, taking the edge off.
When it comes to dying and death we tend to lean heavily on the hope side and accept the denial piece primarily because we as caregivers, hospice folks, medical staff, and doctors are not willing to face the fullness of the discomfort we would all need to face if we approached dying and death with a good dose of compassionate reality mixed with the power of intention.
I am in the midst of having a new tattoo done. It arose about 4 years ago after a trip south to Peru. I was blessed to spend time with some great shaman while I was there and I was taught the powerful trinity of the Condor, the Snake and the Puma.
The Condor represents objective clear vision from a distance – unaffected by subjectivity.
The Snake represent sensual connection with what is real – a fully subjective experience.
The Puma represent what is called right action – the result of combining both clear objectivity and subjective reality.
In our North American culture we often hold these two opposite apart how could you be both objective and subjective at the same time? Well the fact is you can be and finding the balance between these two is absolutely possible. The medical system could give us the straight goods as they know them – objectivity. We the patient could provide our personal experience as we really feel it – subjectivity.
Combining the two as players in the same game where both types of information are taken as equals our chances of making a better decision or a ‘right’ decision are far greater. What this means to me is me the patient remains em-power-ed (in power).
Things are not done to me without my informed consent either directly or through my appointed representative and the medical system is my condor to advise and guide me in the realm they have wisdom and experience in. I, the snake, have wisdom and experience living in my body and in my life – it too is invaluable.
Working as a team in balance ‘right’ action, the puma, will likely be taken and all the unnecessary costly efforts caused by hope and denial will fall away leaving space for quality of life, great good-byes, and graceful endings. By costly I include spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and finical costs.
Perhaps the trinity of the Condor, Snake, and Puma could be adopted as a different approach to end of life.