When my mother was dying she came to visit for a few weeks. She lived with my sisters in South Florida and I lived in Orlando. My mother’s health had deteriorated significantly in a matter of six months. Cancer was eating at her through every cell and pore of her existence. It (the cancer) became the focus of everything. She was waiting on death to finally take her. She had stopped taking her medicine and refused to eat. I began to see my mother as a little girl needing the support of others. It was in those final hours leading to her death that I learned what it was to hold space for another. It was then that I realized the frailty of life and all we take for granted.
Holding space for someone who is sick or dying is about walking along their side without judgment, not making them feel inadequate and allowing their essence to feel free to just be. My mother taught me many things about our relationship those last few weeks of her life. I had to offer unconditional support with patience and a sacredness that didn’t come easy at times. I had to step back and remember integrity and dignity of a dying person. We only want to be heard…to the last dying breath. Her need to always control all situations had diminished. What was left in its place was humility and the acceptance that she was frail and vulnerable. She was afraid. She was resentful at times. But, most of all she wanted to feel loved no matter how hard she pushed.
There are times we find that holding space is truly the only thing we can do for another. This time was about allowing her to just be ever present without trying to fix anything. I was reminded recently of these memories when I visited one of my clients at a facility. Now under hospice care, she just needed to have me there even while not knowing who I am. She just needed me to hold her hand and touch her. My mother craved for this caress in the end of her life, but her pain from cancer was unbearable. She would reach out in the silence of the room to just acknowledge her presence. With each hand touched it was as if she was saying, “Sweetheart, I am still here. Do you see me? Do you feel me? Don’t forget me!”
The act of holding sacred space is important in all relationships. Children need this time to know they are being loved and cared for unconditional. Lovers require this cherished time to show their union. Even pets provide the perfect cues for this sacredness. We are in need of these sanctified moments that express in silence to another, “I am here for you. There is nothing to do. I see you. I feel you. I acknowledge your life.”
You matter. He matters. She matters. Our presence is all that connects us to God. Holding space is about being present without distractions and allowing another to feel Divinity through the eyes of your love.