‘My body’s going to stop, not me!’

Colin died on Monday 7th September 2020.

I have always been interested in engines and vehicles’ says sixty-five-year old retired Royal Naval Artificer Colin Gilbert, who is also fascinated by energy lines, Spirit and life force energy and has been a practicing dowser for many years. Until recently, he was an avid member of the Silver Ring Choir in Bath and believes that the purest sound that your body can be subjected to is the sound of your own voice. For the past decade he has been on an increasingly profound inner journey following a diagnosis for prostate cancer which he calls his ‘little tissue issue.’ Colin speaks candidly about how his spiritual beliefs have helped him overcome his fear of death and how this has deepened his understanding of the transition that awaits us all. I first met Colin when he took part in a zoom death café that I facilitated. 

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Taking responsibility for our death is all about deep adaptation

Sue Brayne in conversation with psychotherapist and Positive Deep Adaptation facilitator Justine Corrie as part of the Living Consciously for a Better World series of interviews, which provide food for thought in this time of uncertainty, challenge and change.

Justine Corrie lived and travelled extensively in Asia in the 90’s and during 2015 and 2016 volunteered in the Jungle camp in Calais and Grande-Synthe in Dunkirk where she initiated support systems for the network of grass-roots volunteers across Europe.  She has been working as a Core Process psychotherapist since 2012 – a therapeutic model which brings together Buddhist psychology of self, transpersonal and western trauma-informed models to orient towards the person’s core state of inherent health. She is also a group facilitator and has been a Positive Deep Adaptation facilitator since September 2019 after she read Professor Jem Bendell’s paper, Deep Adaptation: A map for navigating climate tragedy.

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Leamington Spa pop-up: Saying goodbye, saying I love you, and are death cafes a western indulgence?

On the way to Leamington Spa
On the way to Leamington Spa

Even a drab industrial mooring at Leamington Spa, on an equally drab wet afternoon, couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm and passion of the eight of us who gathered together on Mystic Moon to talk about life, death, and what really matters.

The first theme to emerge was how difficult it can be to open up conversations when the dying person doesn’t want to talk.

‘You can’t force this kind of conversation onto someone who doesn’t want to talk about it. It is they who are dying, and it’s their dying experience,’ said one participant. ‘But you can still be there in all sorts of ways that show you care. I think that’s the most important thing.’

‘I come from a family who has never been the touchy-feely kind and we never talked about anything that really mattered,“ said another participant. ‘So it was difficult to know what to do when my father started to die. My sister-in-law suggested I just sit with him and stroke his arm. I thought he would draw away from me, but when I did stroke him arm, it felt really lovely to do, and I felt he liked it too. That was a great comfort to me.’

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Berkhamsted pop-up death café: Visions for the future of end of life care

Arriving at Berkhamsted
Arriving at Berkhamsted

Berkhamsted pop-up wasn’t so much a conversation about end of life issues, but more of a brainstorming between local GP Dr Jo Withers and her business partner, Sue Raynsford from Finity, Gita Kadirgama, Jo’s practice nurse, Mirelle Hayden (she also came to the King’s Cross pop-up death café) who manages Future Matters and Gentle Dusk, and Sally Whitworth who runs the Aylesbury Vale Natural Burial Meadow, about how end of life care information and alternative funeral services can be better delivered nationally.

We all agreed that end of life care in the UK is woefully lacking in unity and consistency. While our hospice service is regarded as the best in the world, the report from the parliamentary and health services ombudsman, released during Dying Matters week, shows that lack of compassion at the end of life provided by the NHS is causing considerable suffering and lack of dignity to many patients and relatives.

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A Marathon Journey and a whole load of friends to help along the way.

20150428_195155Sitting on Mystic Moon in Limehouse Basin on a gloriously sunny evening, pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming, and giving thanks to everyone who helped me get here.

It’s been quite a trip getting up the Kennet and Avon, entering the Thames, and then making the awesome voyage down the tidal Thames under Tower Bridge, before that treacherous turn into Limehouse lock.

The entire adventure reminded me of two great teachings:

One – it really is not about the destination. The journey is everything.

Two – There’s always someone to help. All you have to do is ask.

So this is a eulogy to those who tipped up at the right moment and so generously gave their time and enthusiasm to make sure I completed my overwhelming desire to do ‘The Thames Dash, which, quite unwittingly, I had chosen to do on Sunday, 26th April: the day of the London Marathon.

Continue reading “A Marathon Journey and a whole load of friends to help along the way.”

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