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Touching Grace: Honoring Death Through Living Life

I’ve had the privilege of touching Grace. Literally. I’m a massage therapist for hospice patients. People who are given the diagnosis of having 6 month or less to live and are done with poking, prodding, cutting, injecting of traditional Western medicine to “save” them. Hospice gives them the opportunity to live each day they have left with integrity, compassion and autonomy for their own decisions.

On this particular day, which started just like any other, I had my regular patients to see. Typically I arrive at the patient’s house or facility, check in with how they are feeling, see what’s new or what has changed and we begin. This day appeared the same when I arrived, but I left my patient after our session a different person. David* was one of the kindest people I have come to meet. He was a regular hard working guy, who came from a big family. He was the youngest of seven. He had been married. He had a job. He had family drama, like so many of us. He rarely talked about any of that, but always had a kind word to say about the staff, his care team and God. David was deeply religious and had his rosary by his bed or in his hand. He said the mysteries daily and would often ask me what day it was so he would know what mystery to say. I had to look up what a “mystery” was in the Catholic faith. We talked about God and being human. Each session with David brought me closer to Grace without even knowing it.

On this particular Friday, a few weeks before David passed away, I found myself feeling particularly chatty. Typically I ask my patients about their lives and the flood gates open as they share away about their childhood, their growing up, family or whatever is on their heart as they get closer to passing. Everyone has a story and they love being given a permission to share. On this day being with David felt different. It felt lighter. It felt brighter. David asked me the questions and I began to cry. I cried not sad cries, but cries of being in the space of Grace. David had done his earthly work and was beginning to let go of the drama, the emotions and the things that we come to be on earth to work through and realize. The feeling is indescribable. I kept crying not because I was sad, but to the contrary. I could feel the unconditional love. I could feel Grace in human form. It’s kind of like when you are around a puppy, a kitten or a baby. Our hearts crack wide open and we go to a place inside ourselves that it always accessible, yet we spend most of our life with a wall up, clinging to the idea that such greatness can only be obtained through many things outside of ourselves. Yet, I am here to tell you the simple act of being in the presence of a dying man was as close to Grace as God himself.

I felt humbled to have the honor to experience this personal, heart felt experience with David. Soon my quiet, sobbing tears ceased and my head felt warm and tingly. I was able to see the experience as such a gift from the Divine. Each moment that day felt different. It felt clear and calm.

David passed away a few weeks later peacefully. He had done his work here on earth. He brought so much to everyone he met, just by being David. Nothing fake. Nothing forced. Just pure David.

Grace. Seeing beauty in everything as it is. Thank you David. You forever have changed my life. I am deeply grateful and honored to know you.

*Name changed for confidentiality.

Erica Hodgson, LMT is a licensed massage therapist with a passion for touching lives, opening minds and supporting hearts. Her deep love of being human brings her the most Divine experiences in her daily life. She loves to share those experiences from the heart allowing others to be in witness of all that is.

Photo Credit: Dolo Igelsias

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