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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Dying as a Gateway to Consciousness

Jan 30, 2017 12:35PM ● By Cheryl Downey

What we call living is so full of continuous dying that most of us are not even conscious of that gift. Yet we are constantly emerging into the new while the old dies away...whether via our body's cells growing and dying or our life-forming thoughts, beliefs and dreams shifting and changing. We experience this every day, ongoing. So every day, ongoing, we have opportunities to wake up to the present moment, to deepen our conscious awareness of our extraordinary being through this myriad of minor deaths. In the fullness of time, we finally step through the gateway of dying at end-of-life, when manifold gifts of consciousness open and emerge—a beautiful life unfolding like a rose that is ready to be picked.

Dying is a mysterious treasure house where even the most so-called unevolved, unenlightened, unspiritual and seemingly unforgivable of us are graciously offered shifts in consciousness like candy in a candy store. It is the number one gateway to both healing and awakening for everyone, regardless of one's beliefs and practices or absence of belief in something greater than themselves.

Dying consciously is not something someone announces they are doing; rather it is known only in moments of awareness by what the energy of the experience feels like to the one dying and her or his caregivers. Who knows when these moments will arise and why? Is it when masks come off, inhibitions dissolve, hidden memories caught inside are freed, truth is spoken and hearts are shared? Maybe it comes in silence or in a waking dream. Or in a heartfelt moment shared. This is an exquisite and rarefied time. Try not to miss it. If one wants to become enlightened, befriend the dying and death of your loved one and befriend the power of your own self in the fullness of time.

For those who are dying:

            1) Know that you are living in the fullness of time—a rarefied time of power.

            2) Trust your awareness and what shows up—befriend your dreaming.

            3) Allow what has been kept hidden to emerge—don't be afraid to speak the truth.

            4) Honor your past and the love that created you.

            5) Open your heart and listen to it.

            6) Bless others and forgive yourself.

            7) Have the courage to let go into lightness—do not fear feeling untethered.

            8) Marvel at how time loses its driving force.

            9) Be present to each moment—if you desire it, your loved ones cannot help but join you.

          10) When you wake up in your most extraordinary, beautiful dream, welcome the coming                   of the light.

For those who are caring for someone who is dying:

            1) Know that you are sharing a rarefied time of power—you can feel it.

            2) Trust what you perceive in the surrounding space.

            3) Allow what has been hidden to emerge—receive it openly and graciously.

            4) Honor your loved one's past, the life you shared and the love that created you.

            5) Open your heart, feel it, share it.

            6) Bless others who share this time and practice forgiveness, especially of yourself.

            7) Resist the urge to keep your loved one tethered here in your thoughts, emotions and


            8) Try not to allow your sacred presence with your loved one to be co-opted by too much                 emphasis on schedules, medications and planning into the future.

            9) Be present in the moment—even if asleep, your loved one may experience this                   

    exquisite energy.

          10) When the fullness of your loved one's time is upon you, sit in awe and gratitude for                      the coming of the light.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins

Cheryl Downey, MDiv has empowered healing through life losses, illness, dying and grief for 35 years as a hospital/hospice chaplain. She is currently a grief-healing practitioner and shaman, founder of Sacred Wheel Center for Grief and Healing and Sacred Wheel Center Inc. She is a 2003 graduate of Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training and 10-year mentor. Her book, Emerging from the Dark: Grief Around the Sacred Wheel, is moving forward towards completion. For more information on individual sessions or packages, classes, workshops and retreats, visit To schedule a session, call 612-272-3977 or email [email protected] For information on Lynn Andrews' Mystery School, go to

Read the full July 2021 Magazine