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Creating Courage Around Death & Dying - For The Caregiver, Assisted Living Resident or Family Member

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Home » Creating Courage around Death & Dying  
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Creating Courage around Death & Dying    

Summary: If you are a caregiver, assisted living resident, or a family member of someone who is ill or dying, this article and book are about helping face and overcome fears around death, grief, and the afterlife.
Guest Article Written By: Rev. Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund

You, too, Can Help Bring Death Back to Life in a Death-denying Culture

Funny how you’ll plan every aspect of every trip except the most important one you’ll ever take! – found on (the National Hospice website)

What comes to your mind and heart when you think of “the last adventure of life”? Do you have any hidden, or not so hidden fears around death, grief, and the afterlife – as many Americans do?

When I was seeking a publisher for my book, The Last Adventure of Life, some years ago, I met a very honest man in the publishing business. Sometime after I’d sent him a copy of my book, we met face to face and he confessed to me the following.

“Maria,” he said, “I’m a coward. I’m afraid of death; and I didn’t want to read your book. I had it on my desk for some time. However, my colleague here had read it and she kept pestering me. She told me Maria Dancing Heart helps assisted living resients face death & dyingthat it was a very good book and that I should at least pick it up and have a look. I finally picked up your book and read it. And Maria, I’m so glad that I did: Your book has truly helped me to be less fearful about death!”

I share this story as a way to let you know that The Last Adventure of Life is not a scary book. In fact, some have told me that it’s one of the most loving and gentle books about death that they’ve ever read. If you read it with an open mind, it may help you in the following ways:

1) It could help you face and overcome some of your own fears around death, grief, and the afterlife. There’s a beautiful story in chapter 4 that you may want to begin with. It is about a young man who has a “visitation” from his grandfather who allays his fears about death through a powerful, joyful, magnificent burst of laughter (pp. 49-50).

This book could also help you go deeper in your spiritual life and assist you to clarify what you actually believe and how you want to live the rest of your life. One grieving reader from the UK shared,

“Rarely has a book captured my attention so immediately and inspired me to want to make radical changes in my behavior and conduct in life. …I don’t know what Maria Dancing Heart’s purpose for writing this book actually was – but for me it’s brought about enlightenment. She skillfully talks about the character traits that we all possess and can develop (with a little effort) …I was struck by the clarity of the message, which essentially for me was "Go on, live a life -- not an existence!" ... Somebody once said that we're not humans having a spiritual experience, but spirits having a human experience. How quickly we can lose the essence of life if we're not aware. How quickly we forget that our happiness is in spirituality, and not in material possessions.

I feel that I am now equipped to live a more complete and happy life! (George Savva)

2) Did you know that many dying people are “dying” to talk about death? If you are a caregiver, assisted living resident, or a family member of someone who is ill or dying, this book could help you become more comfortable with “starting the conversation” around a topic that is still taboo in much of our culture. You will come to have more sensitivity and ease to help others around you in a graceful, loving, and gentle way. At the most critical time in a person’s life, many families tend to tiptoe around the most important topic that needs to be talked about openly – usually because of some old, outworn fears.

You may even be able to assist someone in becoming so proactive around this topic that you help them complete their lives in a good way and create a good, more conscious death – instead of an “unconscious death” that simple happens with no thoughtful planning or deeper awareness about what’s happening.

3) Finally, The Last Adventure of Life will teach you some very practical ways to lovingly assist someone who is approaching death. One woman who does therapeutic music with those who are dying The Last Adventure of Life - a book that can help any assisted living resident face death and dyingshared that this book is “one of the finest introductions to hospice” that she’s every read. It is a “treasure house of hope and healing” another has said.

In this book you will find a smorgasbord of inspirational stories, poetry, prayers, meditations, and suggestions that will show you how to listen to and speak with the one moving through great change – sometimes approaching death. When a person is very close to death, they are usually not so interested in food. Instead of cooking for them, you can show them other ways to appreciate the senses besides taste, like touch, smell, and hearing. You will find a rich collection of body-mind-spirit healing/relaxation modalities, especially in chapter 11, that will help you and your loved ones face change and transformation in a loving, meaningful way. These include modalities such as massage, music, essential oils, acupressure (simple fingerholds, for example), guided meditation, and acupuncture. Who knows? You, as the caregiver or family member of a loved one who's dying or very ill, could find these relaxation modalities particularly important for your own self-care along the way!

"Your natural state is that of Foreverness." -- Abraham – Hicks

Rev. Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund is an author, transformational healer, U.C.C. minister, and end-of-life coach. Her book, THE LAST ADVENTURE OF LIFE, is an inspirational resource book, a unique work that brings together material from all walks of life. It is assisting people who desire to face the end-of-life -- and all kinds of change -- with courage and hope. Many spiritual traditions are represented here. Maria shares from her rich experience with hospice that has opened up her own spiritual life. She also was born and raised in Japan, so she has an expansive, multi-cultural perspective. Anyone facing death, grief, or a transition of some kind would find her book and resources helpful. (Maria is also preparing to publish a 2nd book at this time: The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready? It’s coming out in late May/early June and you may now pre-order!)

For more information on Maria’s work, see her website at: She also posts articles as the National Transitions and Grief Examiner. And for healing tools wrapped in beautiful Japanese style furoshiki (cloth bundles) to help you and your loved ones through change of all kinds, see You may also call Maria at (425) 361-1953 or (888) 409-6123 to order her books and/or Soul Bundles directly through her.

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- by Rev. Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund

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