Death, except for in obituaries, is usually an event or process we normally do not discuss. But death is a part of the life cycle, and its process is the topic of the next Idyllwild Community Center Speaker Series.
The Rev. Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund of Sedona, Ariz., said, “In this day and age, [death] is a major challenge,” whether for the individual entering this transition or their family.
Hoaglund, a former hospice worker, has encountered many people struggling with this issue as well as the actual process of dying. Some are skeptical; some are open to learning more. She speaks to both groups.
The fear of death is widespread, she said, even in Japan, where she was born and raised until college at Yale and her master’s degree in divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary. “There is a dread of death,” she stated. “People have difficulty believing what they can’t see, but mystical things can happen.”
About five years after her mother’s death while working in hospice, Hoaglund experienced a connection with her mother that has gradually shaped her life. It was this realization that people don’t have to fear death she shares through her talks.
A few cultures recognized that step as a “going home.” From her hospice and personal experience, Hoaglund helps individuals accept what is coming.
Generally, she says, the individual is more accepting of the process than their family, who does not want to let go or fears the future.
“The remaining ones often say they now realize they don’t have to be afraid of death,” she said. “If they walk alongside they can experience the transition. It’s a very gentle, gradual process.”
Some individuals are angry; the suddenness and unexpectedness of the situation surprises them.
“The Native American and many other traditions, even quantum physics, acknowledge death as part of the cycle. In physics, everything is energy, which can’t be destroyed, only transformed,” Hoaglund said.
“We must all face our death one day. The sooner we can come to terms with the most important event of our life the better,” says Hoaglund.
Her talk starts at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at the Creekstone Inn. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m.