Philip’s last week

In the wee small hours of the morning after my love had died, I felt a strong compulsion to write everything that had happened in his last week.  I have posted it here so that if you want to know the details of his last days, you can.

The beginning of ‘the dying process,’ as it is called, really began last Friday 25th November, after the last attempt to insert an nj tube into his stomach.

At about 5.30pm that day, Dr. Srimali (Gamma Ray Man) told him:

‘We have tried everything, and nothing has worked, not one thing. I am very disappointed, especially when you had everything going for you in terms of your attitude and your strength of spirit.’

He looked downcast. There was nothing more he could offer.

‘My recommendation is that you move to Elgin hospital and from there, you will more easily be able to make the move to home’. He knew how much Philip had wanted to come home if he was going to die. Later Philip told me ‘Bar a miracle, this is the end then’.  I reminded him about the vision I had experienced only a week ago.

‘I woke in the middle of the night. You and I were somewhere, don’t know where, and there was a warm, glowing light everywhere, and an atmosphere of indescribable love.  I watched you walking away from me more into the light, walking as you used to when you were strong and healthy, walking in a purposeful, calm and conscious manner.   To see your strong shoulders and long legs like that was just beautiful. But the best thing was that it was perfect that you were doing this. And it was perfect that I was staying where I was.  And I knew that you knew that it was perfect for both of us. And I knew that too. And there was so much, so much love.  I stayed lying in the bed in that state for at least half an hour. It was so beautiful’.

‘Can I have one of those, please?’ was his response.

By the time Monday came, we had another step to take. Dr Srimali said, in talking abut the practicalities of moving to Elgin,

‘Would you want to be resuscitated?’

I held my breath, waiting for Philip’s answer. With tears in his eyes, he looked at me.

‘No. Is that OK?’

I had tried to talk to Philip about this before we left home for the hospital, but he wasn’t having any of it then; and I was hugely relieved to hear his answer. I looked at him lovingly and agreed.  I knew this was another step towards him accepting his death. I rang our dear friend Barbara in Los Angeles and asked her to come over.

On Tuesday, when we had been hoping to move, there were no rooms available in Elgin.  Another apparent setback. We geared ourselves up for a move on Wednesday, when we were assured there was a single room. In the meantime, my poor darling Philip was trying to cope with increasing amounts of black bile being regurgitated.  Very distressing.  Barbara’s arrival brought some compensation, and although he didn’t say this to me, I think he would have known that this meant he was near the end. She has been so instrumental in his life (they have known each other for 32 years), and she was the instigator of  ‘The List’, our attempt to face the practical realities of death before it happened.

Wednesday morning arrived.

‘I’m really sorry but because of the strike there are no ambulances available to take you to Elgin’. The nurse looked apologetic.  Later in the morning, Dr Srimali visited.

“I’m sorry, Philip, but I can’t recommend you move now. You are too ill. You have gone down fast in the last few days’.

My poor darling  – he had wanted to go to Elgin Hospital because it felt like home, being so much nearer, and he knew it would be better for me, being based at home while visiting the hospital.

In a side room, the doctor told me, ‘His kidneys are not functioning very well; nor his liver’.  I told Philip.

‘Oh.  So my body is giving up’.  He sighed and looked resigned.  I guess at this point we both knew the end was near.

In the wee small hours of Thursday 1st December, I was woken by a text from Barbara. ‘P is having a difficult night. Can you come in?’  I shot out of bed, and was up there within ten minutes. I arrived to discover my dear husband in considerable distress as he tried to cope with the huge amount of dark brown liquid coming out of his mouth at regular intervals, assisted by coughing. It was foul-smelling and had a horrible taste. With further medication, he calmed down, began more regular breathing, and clearly was out of pain, but I was clear. This was enough.  I stayed with him while he slept, all the time his breathing being hampered by the liquid in his gullet, making a rattling, raspy sound. Horrible to hear.

Barbara told me:

‘You know, something weird happened. About midnight he asked for the remote control!’

‘But he’s never watched the TV in hospital” I exclaimed.

‘I know – but I asked him if he wanted to watch the telly, and he said yes. So I got him the remote and asked what channel he wanted’.

‘Channel 5 – I want to see Countdown’.

Countdown used to be a favourite TV programme of Philip’s. He would pit his wits against two teams on the TV as they tried to make the longest word possible out of a series of letters. He loved that stuff.  So when I heard this, I knew he was telling us the end was near – he was literally counting down.  I called Jackie, his daughter, and told her to get on an earlier plane than she had intended.

All Thursday during the day, he was more or less sedated, the pain being managed with various medicines, and others to help dry up the secretions.

‘I want you to take him off the intravenous feeding; and please can you do whatever you have to do so that he is not conscious of what is happening anymore’, I told the doctor who was visiting.

The doctor looked at me. ‘Have you said all you want to say to him?’

‘I’ve had lots of opportunities to say everything. I don’t mind if he never opens his eyes again, I just want him to be out of this agony’. I was really clear.

During that day, Philip was aware of conversations; we could tell because occasionally he would murmur or grunt; and even more occasionally would come round from the drugs enough to speak a little.  Christopher Raymont visited, and together he and I softly sang some of his favourite Taize songs, particularly ‘In manus tuas, pater’ (Into thy hands God I commend my spirit). Although it appeared that he did not know we were there, I’m sure he did.

Later still, he softly murmured ‘I love you’. Then he put his shaking hands into the prayer position.

‘Take me’.

With that I knew that he had let go; he was giving himself up.  My dear, lovely, brave man.

Leaving Jackie and Daniel, his grandson, at Philip‘s bedside, I returned to where I was staying to get out of my pyjamas from the early morning start, have a shower and supposedly sleep (not much of that happened, mind you). Returning a couple of hours later, I joined River and Barbara, Jackie and Dan having left,  and I saw he was lucid once more.

‘Help me’.

Even with slurred words, we could understand this plea. We got more medication into his body, spoke again of the angels waiting for him, I told him my vision once more.  River suggested having the nurses move his body, as it looked as though it was falling out of bed.  A small globule of brown liquid oozed from his lips. I left the room in tears – I couldn’t bear to see him suffering so much.

The nurse returned.

“We’ve moved him, and his breathing has changed’.

Barbara and I went back in to be with him and River.  He had changed, his breathing was no longer a rattling sound in the back of his throat.  I sat down and held his hand. His eyes were shut, and he occasionally took a big breath – and then a long gap. Within minutes, he stopped taking these breaths.  Never having seen someone die before, I was unsure what was happening, but I noticed at one point a change in his face colour.  That was when he left his body.

The dear, courageous, loving, gorgeous man.  He stayed for so long trying so hard to not succumb to this illness and it’s corresponding side effects.   Looking upwards towards the ceiling, we each took turns to speak to his spirit, telling him what had happened, reassuring him he was loved, blessing him.  It was very beautiful.

My darling did not want to die, not one little bit. He felt he had lots more to give to others. And yet in his dying, that is exactly what he has done.

‘Why are you afraid of dying, sweetheart?’ I asked him some weeks ago.

‘I want to give more’ was his simple reply.

Well, he has given more. Given in the manner in which he approached the impending death of his body, which was in full consciousness.  Never for one minute was he not present in his mind’s abilities during his stay in hospital.  Even through all the drugs. He was very conscious about everything, what the doctors were prescribing, what for, the amount he was taking; what was going on around him, his body’s needs, even aware of my needs to the last moment. He has been an amazing example of conscious dying.

Thank you, my dearest one, thank you.








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24 Responses to Philip’s last week

  1. Tree says:

    Dear dear Jane… This is such a beautiful account, you carried me with you through the whole process. I wept, I felt relief. I felt awe
    I wrote a text to Philip after he’d gone thanking him for all his special gifts. This was his last Big Gift. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  2. Jenny Lewis says:

    So moving – thank you for sharing these intimate moments. x

  3. Dear Jane, Thank you for managing to write this moving account of Philip’s last days. I’ m so sorry that he had to suffer so much – and you too. His work is done and he has indeed given more than he can ever know. He was ‘Philip’ to the very end…the count down and then his hands folded in the prayer position…may he feel deeply loved as he journeys on into that golden light..and may you feel deeply loved, now and in the days ahead. In my heart I am with you both, shedding tears, feeling love….Sara xxx I’m so glad that you had Barbara and River with you, two beautiful friends to hold and be with you and Philip – may they too be supported through the sadness by all the love.

  4. Pam says:

    Thank you so much Jane for this touching account of your lovely man’s last days.
    I’m so sorry to hear of the suffering he went through at the end and I’m really glad it didn’t go on too long for you both. He was so blessed to have you there with him to love and support him on this journey and especially to have the courage to release him when you recognised it was time.
    I love the dream you had, it sounds so real. What a wonderful way to prepare you for what was about to happen.
    I’m glad the celebration for Philip is on Friday and I’ll be able to be there. We fly off to Australia on Saturday.
    Much love to you, Pam xx

  5. brian holden says:

    Thank You Jane Very clear
    There is little I can add, yet there is another Hafiz poem that I love
    Love B.

    Deepening the wonder
    translated by Daniel Ladinsky
    Death is a favor to us,
    But our scales have lost their balance.

    The impermanence of the body
    Should give us great clarity,
    Deepening the wonder in our senses and eyes

    Of this mysterious existence we share
    And are surely just traveling through.

    If I were in the Tavern tonight,
    Hafiz would call for drinks

    And as the Master poured, I would be reminded
    That all I know of life and myself is that

    We are just a midair flight of golden wine
    Between His Pitcher and His Cup.

    If I were in the Tavern tonight,
    I would buy freely for everyone in this world

    Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
    Of time and space cannot endure very long.

    Death is a favor to us,
    But our minds have lost their balance.

    The miraculous existence and impermanence of
    Always makes the illumined ones
    Laugh and sing.

  6. Pratima says:

    I write this with tears in my eyes.
    Thank you Jane for sharing so much with us.
    A beautiful dying.

  7. Caroline says:

    Oh Jane I am so glad you wrote all this down. Why should the intimacy of death be left out? You have made it so lovingly clear; that love cannot be left out of anything. How could it be? This brings balance to how our culture does leave it out.
    Crying with you remembering what a giving man Philip was. So giving.
    Maybe that was the hardest thing for him at any time? When he could not give.
    I received so much strong giving from that man. Thank you Philip. Thank you Jane.
    Thank you for helping my heart to open more. What loving healing energy is released in this circle of light.
    Carrie xxx

  8. Candy says:

    Dearest Jane, I feel you have shared something so special and important in a way. Thank you so very much for this. What you and Philip have shared and experienced seems to help me understand more about real love, true love. It is deeply moving, deeply inspirational and so very brave and courageous.

    I will be with you all in spirit as you celebrate on Friday in that beautiful space that is the Universal Hall.

    I constantly hold you both in my heart and you’ve been deeply in my thoughts this past week. My kitchen light flickered strongly that evening of 1st Dec. My heart skipped a beat. I had heard of that happening when someone passes into spirit.

    The love can only grow and spread from your sharing. You write with such strength and clarity. Beautiful. I am in awe. I hope you will continue to share with us.

    God bless you both. Love you

  9. Deborah says:

    i hope I haven’t screwed my keyboard up with all my tears…..thank you both for teaching me so much about what it truly means to love. I know you don’t realise why you are quite so special – but we do and Philip still does and we love you through and through. xx

  10. Bernadette says:

    Thank you both. Love is your keynote. Enfolding hug and warmth LOVE Bernadette and Christoph

    • Sabine Kawano says:

      Dear Jane!
      On Sunday at Taize, singing some songs Philip loved, I suddenly, sort of saw Philips etheric body and wonderfull soul was with you, Jane, holding you very tight and thanking you, what you did for him. He looked perfectly healthy and so full of light!
      With sympathy at this very special time for you, Jane.
      Love from Sabine

  11. Lisa Mead says:

    Thank you Jane, for this moving and beautifully written account of Philip’s last days in this lifetime. Having spent time with you these last few days, I really appreciate your strength of spirit, and also your willingness to be vulnerable. Sharing such an intimate time between you and Philip in writing, with such grace, is truly a gift of love.
    Lisa xx

  12. Esther Rozenfarb says:

    Dear dear Jane, my husband Israel and I were at the Concious Medicine conference at Findhorn this May. My husband joined with yours and they had many talks about the illness they shared. We both followed his blog. I could so relate to what you wrote just now, my sweet darling husband was much like yours. We had a wonderful 25 year relationship. He passed on on the 24th September. I know we left healthy in both spirit and soul, his body gave in. there was such a stuggle as if two entities were in battle inside him in the last minutes. I had the honor of holding him close to my chest as he had his last breath. If you wish to talk to me or even should you consider visiting you would be very welcome. I live in the resor t town of Nahariya in the north of Israel. We have an “adopted” daughter in Forres who is a nurse, Gillian McCroby who came to nurse his last four days (that is another wonderous story!) We go on, there is no other choice with the help of our family and friends and by the knowledge that our dear husbands guide our thought and our relationship with them gets stronger now that they have passed on. I feel Israel with me everyday, looking over as a guardian angle indeed. I hug you a long lasting and loving hug, Esther

  13. Chris says:

    Dear Jane,

    Thank you for sharing such an honest and deeply moving account of your last moments with Philip. I am deeply moved. If I can help you in any way just ask.

    With Love and appreciation.


  14. william says:

    Thank you, Jane.

    Bless you on your onward journey.


    William & Jenny

  15. Anu says:

    Thank you, Jane, for writing such a compelling account of this part of Philip’s journey. Even though I haven’t seen either of you since Oxford, you brought me so much closer through your words. Not only do I recall you and Philip with great fondness, but also Findhorn, the community and the landscape there – where I grew up – so I will be very much with you in spirit at the celebration on Friday. With love and blessings, Anu

  16. Paloma says:

    Dear Jane, Dear Philip,
    Love and light to both of you. Thank you for sharing this experience, that has touched me to the deepest, even if we don´t know each other physically.

    A candle will be lit tonight at my home, to honour Philip and his journey.


  17. Lewis Bassett says:

    Hi Jane,

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

  18. Lindy Gibbon says:

    My heart is full. God bless you both. Lindy

  19. Lynn Bellamy says:

    I met you both only once at a Louise Hay workshop many years ago, but you both left a lasting impression on me. Blessings to you both, special people. xx

  20. joanna says:

    Thank you Jane for this. May all the Love that enfolded Philip’s dying sustain your living. Love to you, woman of courage strength and beauty. So glad I know you. x x Joanna

  21. linda says:

    I am sorry I couldnt be with you today but I felt close to you both in spirit

    Philip died such a good death and you his beloved walking beside him until the end
    both of you with such courage

    you know that my door is always open

  22. Josie says:

    Beautiful Jane,

    I am smiling and crying, feeling a sweet sadness, at reading you deeply loving and honest account of Philips last days.

    I lit a candle and joined you all in spirit today as you were celebrating Philip’s life. I had a very strong sense of Philip’s presence, with great radiance. It felt to me that he was both enjoying the gathering, and very focused on supporting you Jane. I felt he was surrounding you in light and love.

    Thank you so much Jane for what you have written, my heart feels deeper for your sharing.

    with love, Josie

  23. Cheryl says:

    Dearest Jane, what a wonderful gift this is. Although I only knew Philip a little, I have tremendous admiration for him and for you in the way you both approached this difficult journey. I am eternally grateful to you both for sharing so openly and lovingly and I feel very privileged to have been able to attend Philip’s tribute in the Universal Hall this afternoon. God bless you both.

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