Monday, August 17, 2015

Tecumseh's Wisdom - Thoughts on Living with Death from the Native American Tradition

Today I want to share a beautiful piece that I received through someone who introduced me to the call at the end: "Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."! It comes from Tecumseh, Shawnee sachem (1763 - 1813) --

Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his (her) religion.
Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the Great Divide.

Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
or even a stranger, if in a lonely place. 
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.

When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools 
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When your time comes to die
be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time
to live their lives over again in a different way.


And remember: There's tremendous sacredness and beauty awaiting us in this mystical event of our souls returning home to Spirit. A Great Reunion with Love itself! So I invite and encourage us all to live our lives FULLY every single day, make our bucket lists, and enJOY everything that we can right now, making sure that we find ways to delve into the mysteries of death so that whenever it comes, we are prepared for that "last adventure of life!"

Yours on the Journey - the Gift of Life itself, Maria Dancing Heart~~~~

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Perhaps We Need Not Suffer So When It's 'Time' for Someone's Death?

I came across this article from the New York times this morning, Murderer in the Mirror, by a cancer surgeon, Scott Eggener. It is troubling to me how much anguish our society - and physicians in particular - have about death. It's as if doctors feel that if someone dies on their shift, "under their knife," or when they are on duty, that somehow it is their responsibility - all their fault.

We see this brilliantly portrayed in the film City of Angels, where Meg Ryan plays the part of a heart surgeon. Her patient dies on the operating table; and Meg becomes furious. However, perhaps there's something greater and more profound playing out here? Perhaps we are to see death, somehow, as a blessing when it comes, despite all our human efforts to stave it off?

Here's what I wrote to Dr. Eggener this morning, because I'd like him to open up to another perspective about death:

Dear Dr. Scott Eggener,

Thanks you very much for the heart-felt article you wrote entitled "Murderer in the Mirror." I very much appreciate hearing from the heart of a surgeon such as yourself. I hear the anguish and sorrow in your voice.

However, I'd also like to share my perspective - as a hospice end-of-life counselor and death educator - that whenever death comes, it has it's place. It does not come by accident; and it is not a fluke. Also, the High (God) Self of a human always gives permission before we die.

I believe that as a culture we have a great deal of work to do to bring death "back into the fold of life"! Recently, I saw a documentary called The Sacred Science. In it, a shaman reflects:

Life without death has no meaning. Life does not exist without death.
Wherever there is life there is death. And we cannot hide from it.
Death is a change, a process. It is necessary for life.
Western societies have demonized death. But why? Due to fear and ignorance.
Because there's something to be afraid of after death. What is it? What is God?
They are truly afraid of God, and God is life itself.
So they stay away from death, and by doing so, they stay away from life as well.

It is my fervent hope and prayer that we can learn to honor death in a new way in our society. It is time to see the beauty, the sacredness, and the divine place that death has in each of our lives. Yes, it is sad and creates a sense of "emptiness" when one of our loved ones die. However, they are on their own Sacred Journey; and when they die, they have completed their work and "job" on earth. Now it is our job, as those remaining on earth, to Let Those Who Have Died Go, as gracefully and thoughtfully as possible, into the Next Realm - where they have their own sacred work and journey to continue. We were Blessed by their Presence with us; and now we must trust that they - as well as we - will continue to be blessed by the New Realm they're in, and the new chapter in life that's opening up to them. 

I welcome you to visit my website,, for more about my work and mission.

Be well, and Stay Blessed on the Journey, Maria Dancing Heart

ps. I would be delighted if you would like to see my books. I can send you autographed copies if you'd make a donation at either, or (scroll down to donate - $33 will cover the two books, and shipping as well.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

When We Do Not Start the Conversation in Time, Sometimes, There Are Just No Time for Answers:

Tonight I wanted to share from the first edition of my book, The Last Adventure of Life. It's one of the most powerful stories in the book - a poignant article from the American Journal of Nursing that came to my attention thanks to a hospice R.N. The nurse shares in this piece a thought-provoking incident she was a part of when she encountered a dying man on her shift at the hospital. More than anything he needed compassion, and yet she felt she was unable to provide this for him in his last moments of life. She may have provided more than she realized by her very presence, even though the hospital’s protocol left much to be desired. I found myself wondering how things could have been different for this man’s last hours on earth if he, his doctor, and his family had started a conversation about his death much earlier. Then, he might have been able to be on a hospice or palliative program when the following circumstance unfolded.

No Time for Answers: When Clocks and Heartbeats Pause

Mike Soreneson was the second patient on my initial rounds that afternoon: A man in his fifties, youngish but with a tired heart. From the doorway, I could see his distress. It filled me with dread. He was drenched with sweat and his breathing was labored and choked with rattles. Fear was in his eyes. I knew from a report that he’d already suffered two myocardial infarctions, and it was clear that his damaged heart, stretched and weakened from cardiomyopathy, was rebelling against its unrelenting workload.

It took just a nanosecond to sprint from the door to his bedside, apply the blood pressure cuff, and push the call light in frantic summons of the cavalry. Before it arrived, in those seconds that dragged with waiting and the taking of vital signs, he grabbed my wrist and turned his bewildered eyes toward me. Struggling to sit up, he whispered in a voice tight with panic, “Where am I? What’s happening to me?” There was no time for answers as he crossed quickly into the shadows.

Time can stop. It did that afternoon. In that diastole of realization—when clocks and heartbeats pause—I saw him wonder at things beyond my mortal edges. And then, in a finger snap, his eyelids flickered and drooped, and he sighed once before leaving me suddenly alone. Tensions and years eased from his face. He became youthful and handsome, with the promise of life seeming to stretch before him.

As he fell back slowly onto his pillow, the world rushed in: resuscitation, in its chaotic and technical splendor, took control. The room filled abruptly, people crackling with energy arriving together as if from the same train. White coats snapped like battle flags. The code cart, red and bulky, was pushed squealing into the room; a defibrillator and an electrocardiogram machine followed quickly around the corner. A leader barked orders. Sterile packages were ripped open and disemboweled. Mike’s body was stripped and assaulted with needles and tubes. White adhesive tape fringed the room, and us, in little strips, while drops of his blood, imbued with drugs that proffered false hope, rubied sheets and shoes. Paper banners snaked and curled around our feet, documenting the story of a dying heart in unemotional peaks and valleys. Then, straight lines. A life ended.

As the code stopped, I was standing where I started, next to a heart I had compressed and shocked yet never known. The cavalry scattered, as the empty room filled with the smell of defeat. I trembled with adrenaline, yet felt drained. After removing tubes, catheters, tape, and electrodes from Mike’s body, I covered him with a clean sheet and began to clear the debris. Strips of tape had wandered away on the bottoms of shoes to other units, other crises, as this corner of the hospital settled back into familiar routines.

A colleague helped with postmortem care. We talked of the code as if in instant replay, even sharing quiet, guilty church laughs about comedic moments. We didn’t speak about Mike. We didn’t know him. We treated his body with professionalism and respect, but without memories or words of goodbye. I didn’t tell her about his fear. I didn’t mention his last words. They somehow seemed too raw and private, still undigested in my mind.

For weeks after Mike’s death, his impersonal end filled me with sadness and regret. I wish I had comforted him in his final moments—did he recognize my detachment, and feel one final, mortal ache? In the many years that have passed since that afternoon, I’ve made an effort never to shrug away compassion. With every finger-squeeze of thanks, I was enriched. And I hope that when my death is near—before stepping into bright beginnings or overwhelming silence—I will feel a caress on my cooling cheek, or smell the salt of a single tear. Smiling, I will turn from the shadowlands to see someone who loved me, standing in a pool of soft porch light, hand raised in goodbye.                                          --  Pamela Sturtevant, R.N.

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, 
the only survival, the only meaning.

Thornton Wilder

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Powerful and Practical Handbook for Caregivers Struggling to Do the "Right Thing" while Taking Good Care of Themselves

Recently, Carolyn A. Brent of The Caregiver Story interview me on her BlogTalkRadio Show. Here's the link to that interview - which I enjoyed immensely, by the way! I'd received Carolyn's second book called The Caregiver's Companion some time ago, so I decided to write a book review for it. It is very comprehensive and well written; and believe that many of you hardworking caregivers out there will appreciate it. Please take to heart Carolyn's plea that you take GOOD CARE of yourself. I would concur that his is most important!

Here's my review:

Carolyn A. Brent is the perfect author for this book, The Caregiver's Companion: Caring for Your Loved One Medically, Financially and Emotionally While Caring for Yourself, because she was very close to and appreciative of her father, a minister, who she needed to care for as his aging began to take a toll on him. After her father lost his second wife and he had to start going it alone, he began to need Carolyn's help. His needs were serious, so Carolyn had to travel from her home in the Bay Area to assist her father in the Denver area. Eventually, Carolyn convinced her father to move in with her and come to the Bay Area. Some time later, when Carolyn's father's health was in a more critical state, Carolyn had to deal with her siblings, some of whom she had not grown up with. They made life very difficult for her - and her father - toward the very end of her father's life. At a pivotal juncture, Carolyn was not even allowed to visit her father in the private care facility he was living in, and she had to find out about her father's death - after the fact - from a distant relative. This, after acting as her father's caregiver for twelve years, with virtually no help from her siblings.

The point being, Carolyn has had extensive experience working through many complex and complicated issues around caregiving. She is the perfect one to be writing about how important communication and the "crucial conversations" she refers to are, between family members, caregivers, and the loved one facing death. As she writes, "you can never be too prepared." 

I want to mention some of Carolyn's chapter titles here so you can get a feel for the thorough content she offers in her book: "Talk Early, Talk Often," "When Should You Step In?", "Caring for Your Loved one At Home," Moving Your Aging Loved One...", "Emergencies and Life-of-Death Decisions," "Hospice Care," "Crucial Emotional (and Financial) Conversations," How How to Have Crucial Conversations," "Crucial Legal Conversations," and "Taking Care of Yourself." By the way, this last may be the most important chapter in her book?! And Carolyn offers at the very end of her book, "The Caregiver's Cheat Sheet," a comprehensive 14-page list of things that caregivers need to keep in mind, from "empower yourself ... with the right questions when checking out a long-term care facility for your loved one" to "Ask for help and stop having an 'I can do this by myself' attitude."

Needless to say, I highly recommend this beautiful, practical "handbook for caregivers" that many of you current or would-be caregivers around the globe could benefit from. Much of this book is written in a Question & Answer format. Therefore, if you have a burning question, you could simply look for your question in the book and most likely find it. An index has also been provided for the reader's convenience. At the end of each chapter there's even a Question Checklist which summarizes the topics covered in each chapter. 

There are many dedicated caregivers out there working without fanfare or much appreciation. Of the 76 million or so baby boomers in our society, it is likely that a good third of them are caring for a loved one. I read a statistic that said "43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or other dementia" (November, 2012 - Family Caregiver Alliance). See this article for more.  Carolyn interviewed 1500 caregivers across the globe as part of her research for this book and for her legal campaign to change the law "to protect the caregiver and the person he or she is caring for." My hope and prayer is that many will find this magnificent, very interesting and unique resource for caregivers that Carolyn has spent a great deal of time and effort putting together! In 2011, Carolyn wrote her first book, Why Wait? The Baby Boomers' Guide to Preparing Emotionally, Financially, and Legally for a Parent's Death.

For those of you interested in exploring further, the link to Carolyn's website is here.

Thank you, Carolyn, for your very fine and thorough work on caregiving. I'm very pleased to be associated with you, and look forward to more conversations with you!

Monday, July 27, 2015

An Amazing Synchronicity that Took Place on the Road to Lake Abiquiu - Later Sedona, Arizona

I had quite an interesting journey back to Sedona earlier this month: 

I got into the driver's seat of a U-Haul cargo van to travel back to Sedona and collect the last of my belongings there a couple of weeks ago. After I got out of the city and up into the mountains, I stopped at a lovely mountain town to "refuel" myself. Then, another 90 minutes down the road, the 2-way highway came to a complete hault! It turns out there had been an accident up ahead. After getting out of the van to connect with some people in front of me, I then sauntered toward the car behind me. The driver was a woman with young children.

We greeted each other. I noticed that she had a skull and bones tattoo on one of her arms. I mentioned to her that I do end-of-life and holistic work. She soon began to share her current story which had to do with the fact that her grandmother had recently taken a fall - or some kind of accident - and had had to be in the hospital. Then she had moved to a rehabilitation facility, but the fact was that she was not going to be going home again. She was probably needing to move to an assisted living facility. This young woman was aware that her grandmother, on some level, was moving into her dying process. She was aware enough that she wanted to be talking about this as a family. However, she was not sure if her mother and other family members were up to it.

I let her know about my website,, and encouraged her to look me up and at least purchase my books. Who knows how I could be of support to her and her family at this time?!? These are the exact kinds of situations that I can assist in. If you know of someone, or a family in this kind of situation, please let them know about my work.

In closing, let me share an interesting quote I came across this past weekend, by Alan Watts: We live in a culture where it has been rubbed into us in every conceivable way that to die is a terrible thing. And that is a tremendous disease from which our culture in particular suffers.”

And once upon a time, Plato is said to have said, "Death is the greatest of all human Blessings"!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Something a Little New and DIfferent for You... Want a big e-mail list? Check this out!

Hi there!
Have you heard about List-a-Palooza?
It's a free 90 Day List-Building Challenge that my
friend PJ has put together for you. Over 10,000
people have participated in the challenge and
Here's why I think you should check it out...
With a profitable e-mail list you can:
***  Attract more clients and sales
***  Turn current clients into repeat clients
***  Fill your seminars and programs
***  Promote other peoples' programs that
you believe in and earn $1,000's in affiliate
During the List-Building Challenge, you will:
* Receive weekly accountability check ins for
tracking your results so that you accelerate your
path to more subscribers (and more sales!)
* Get access to TWO training calls each week with
some of the world's top List-Building Experts to share
their hottest strategies and tactics with you for massively
growing your list.
* Be invited to participate in a weekly "Power Hour"
in which we all get online together at the same time
to implement ONE specific list-building tactic.
You will love it! Cheers,
Maria Dancing Heart
P.S. "What you focus on expands," and by focusing
on building your list for 90 days, especially with
all of the resources you'll receive, you will move
forward MUCH FASTER!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Music to My Ears

Recently, I gave a talk on "Joyful Transitions: Trusting the Cycle of Life" at a Sales Pros branch meeting in Thornton, CO. One of the women attending was so moved by my talk that she wrote the following reflection"

Awesome! Maria, herself, is healing. She has such a gentle soul and very spiritual. Her message is very much of our landscape today. So needed. She embodies a sense of deeper understanding and connection to over coming the fear of death. Her message of love of self, forgiveness, and respect of death does heal, does remove the sense of doubt and fear of aging and death. She leaves you with a sense of peace. I'm glad I didn't miss her talk.         -- Jan G.

Jan also shared with me personally these words: 
You really do have a way about you that not everyone has. Very soothing and healing but also meaningful, not condescending. Thank you.

Thank you, Jan! I can see that you really understood my message and "got" what I am about. I will be using your words here as often as I can - to see how I can make better inroads and reach more people with my talks.

If any of you reading this blog have any suggestions for me, in terms of where I might offer my talk(s) to help people shift their perspective and overcome fear of death - begin the conversation, if only in their own mind - please let me know. I'm open to considering all possibilities these days!

Highest Blessings of Light and love to all.