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A Reiki Hospice Experience

by Therese Silva-Johnson

                  As a Reiki volunteer for my local community hospital hospice center, I was asked to give Reiki treatments to a terminally ill cancer patient in my neighborhood. ”Mark” (names have been changed for privacy) was a lawyer and only 40 years old who had been given a prognosis of six weeks to live. He was dying of pancreatic cancer that had already spread to his other organs. He had a wife, “Sharon,” and two teenage children —a son and a daughter.
              As I pulled into the patient’s large driveway, it was quite interesting to see before me a very large, two story house with a tall ladder leaning smack against the middle of the house and reaching almost to the roof. One side of the house was painted grey, one side white, and it was obvious that one of those sides had been newly painted. It was then that I got an eerie feeling—as if the ladder signified that everything had been frozen in time in this space that contained the house in front of me.
              As I walked up the steps to the second floor main entrance, I was greeted immediately by Sharon. Sharon invited me in and began to tell me in detail everything she had been doing for her husband since he had become ill, including the many different types of traditional and alternative treatments they had been trying in an effort to stop and heal his pancreatic cancer. She went on to tell me how they had just returned from Mexico where Mark had been through a regimen of treatments and how she had a trip to the San Francisco Bay area planned for him next week for some more treatments, at another cancer clinic. Sharon appeared to me to be very frazzled, exhausted, disoriented and frightened. And it didn’t take me long to realize that Sharon was in denial.  Her husband was dying, and she was absolutely beside herself thinking about how she could stop this from happening. She was completely convinced that she could do something or that there was some miracle treatment that was going to save her husband.
              My heart went out to this woman as I felt her pain and suffering, and her fear of losing her husband. She was so courageous and brave, fighting so desperately hard, wanting to save him so much. It just about broke my heart to see her in such anguish and agony. However, as a nurse and a Gerontologist, I am very aware that there just is no known cure yet for pancreatic cancer, and considering how quickly Mark’s had spread, I also could assume that he would not have much more time left. Sometimes as much as we wish, hope and pray for miracles we also have to accept that when it’s our time to go, it’s our time to go. We have to remember that while Reiki heals but doesn’t necessarily cure, it can still aid in the process of transition. 
              Since I had been called here to offer Reiki, I asked Sharon what she knew about it, and she said she did not know anything about it. The social worker had recommended it. I explained a little then suggested that it would probably be best if I could give her a treatment first so that she could experience the Reiki energy herself. I told her that it was like riding a bike. How do you explain how it feels to ride a bike? It’s something you just have to experience. Sharon thought that giving her Reiki first was an excellent idea. I went back out to my car, brought in my massage table and gave her a Reiki treatment. I didn’t notice anything in particular while I was giving Sharon Reiki other than she was like a sponge and really soaking up the energy. When she got up off the table she exclaimed that she had an awakening. She was extremely grateful for the treatment and she was in tears of relief as she told me that she did not understand how the Reiki worked. However it brought her peace of mind. She was eternally grateful. She was excited for me to begin the Reiki treatment on Mark.
              As she led me to Mark’s bedroom she told me she was going to cancel their plans to go to the cancer clinic in the Bay area and just try to enjoy the time she had left with her husband. I was somewhat in shock, and could not believe the 180 degree turn this woman had just made after only one Reiki session. She had completely come out of her denial and accepted the fact that her husband was dying. It blew my mind. All of a sudden Sharon was talking about how to assist her husband with his spiritual transition and who and what she could think of to create a celebration of sorts for his transition. I was completely in awe of Reiki! 
              As I walked into Mark’s bedroom I saw him curled in a fetal position, obviously writhing in pain. With all due respect, I have to say that it was a gruesome sight. I could tell that he was a very tall man because I could see long, gangly limbs that appeared cramped and crimped with discomfort; his whole body appeared as if it was begging for some kind of relief. Mark was pale and emaciated and gaunt looking and his life force energy was very weak. I knew the minute I saw him he was not long for this world. I could tell he knew it too. I introduced myself and explained and described to him why I was there and asked for his permission to treat him with Reiki. He shrugged and gave me the “okay” with a look that said “what the hell, why not—nothing can hurt me now.” I didn’t get the feeling he thought much about the work I was there to do or at least didn’t give it much importance as he said “It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”
               I thought to myself, oh, but darling, you are going to a much better place. They are waiting for you with open arms. Surprisingly I heard what I believe was Mark’s adamant subconscious response that said, “You don’t know what I’ve done. They may not want me.” I subconsciously responded, “We’ll see. Let’s get started.”
              After I turned on “The Heart of Reiki” CD, I settled in to do the Reiki treatment. I scanned Mark’s body and then I sat in a chair across from his bed. This appeared the most conducive way to give him Reiki under the circumstances.
              I began to project the Reiki energy to him from about three feet away. I would occasionally stand over Mark to administer Reiki. I could sense the vibrations in the core of his body where all his central main organs were vibrating; it was the sense of a plague that was creeping throughout his system. I intuited that the Reiki energy immediately went to work on containing the vibrations around the diseased and already half-dead pancreas, liver and kidneys and when that was completed, it was then that Mark looked at me in amazement and curiosity like a child. It felt like the Reiki had contained the vibrations of those main organs in what seemed to be some kind of protective bubble. It appeared to start smoothing and soothing the rest of the surrounding area and moved out progressively from there to his outer limbs, as the treatment progressed. 
              Mark appeared dramatically more comfortable. I could see the cramping in his bones had stopped and the tension in his face had drained away and he was dozing off now. He opened his eyes to look at me periodically. I could tell he was still skeptical about Reiki but his interest was definitely ignited. I felt a sense of child-like inquisitiveness from him that was quite endearing. This continued during future sessions. I always got the sense that Mark had a staunch guard that would never allow the grown-up part of him to admit that this work, “this Reiki energy,” whatever it was, could be acknowledged, since it certainly wasn’t something he could wrap his mind around as it went against anything he had ever encountered in his years of education and living.
              After two hours of Reiki I came out of what seemed like a trance, and I re-scanned Mark’s body. I could still sense the encapsulated bubble around his organs. I quietly left the room; Mark was peacefully sleeping. I said good-bye to Sharon and left.

            About four days later I was called back to give Mark another treatment. I was told that the Reiki treatment had given him pain relief for the entire weekend and that Mark had not needed to take any morphine during that time. He was able to be alert and present with his family. They were ecstatic and extremely grateful and looking forward to the next Reiki session.
               I returned and gave Mark another two hour session. This time Sharon asked if she could be in the room and I said, “Certainly, as long as Mark is in agreement.” I received a slightly better welcome this time from Mark. He was obviously in pain again when I arrived and the morphine really did not do enough to ease it. I sensed much of his pain was subconscious; Mark was suffering from a tremendous amount of guilt. He was being tortured by his conscience.
              Even though we didn’t speak, it was as though we were having a subconscious conversation (or that I was privy to the conversation that was going on). Silently, I heard Mark tell me that he enjoyed the Reiki and although he did not understand it, it helped with his pain. He said that he was frightened of the afterlife and of the repercussions of the earthly atrocities he was responsible for. They were unforgivable. The response I heard given him was that I did not believe that they were unforgivable, but that he needed to forgive himself first. Mark was not sure he could. I asked him to try and quiet his mind and let me send him Reiki in silence. He agreed but I continued to hear him tormenting himself with his guilt and agonizing condemnation. This went on for quite some time. I just listened and kept sending Reiki. Mark was caught in his unworthiness. I heard a suggestion given to him to speak to his inner child about the thoughts he was having, and although his response was that he thought that was the stupidest idea he had ever heard, he agreed to do it. His conversation with himself changed, and he became much easier and more understanding with himself.
              Again, Mark was able to experience 72 hours of pain relief after two hours of Reiki. As before, he did not have to take any morphine, allowing him to be alert and oriented and able to enjoy time with his two teenagers and Sharon. I returned every fourth day to do another two hour Reiki session, which allowed this special time for the family. Sharon shared with me that before the Reiki sessions had begun, their daughter“Lindsey” and son “Philip” had been deeply upset seeing their father under the influence of the morphine. They did not recognize him as their father. When he did not take the morphine he was more present with them. However, when the pain returned they would beg him to take it again. They could not bear to see him in the pain. The Reiki sessions changed this cycle for the better for them.
              The next time I went to give Mark a Reiki treatment, the house was full of relatives who had flown in from the East Coast to say their good-byes and spend some time with him before he passed away. Soon after the start of the Reiki session, many of the relatives started coming to the door of the room and peering in with curiosity. The Reiki light energy had gotten so big that it was expanding the size of the house, like a balloon filling up with air, and they couldn’t help but feel it. And so could I. One by one, they started asking if they could come in during the Reiki session. Mark did not object. Soon the room was filled with people standing or sitting against the walls with another group clamoring at the door.
              I didn’t think anything of it at the time, and it all seemed quite natural, soothing and supportive. Everyone was very quiet and there was a wonderful air of peace and solitude throughout the house. They all watched and listened in silence to “The Heart of Reiki” music and felt the Reiki energy along with Mark.
            I could see and feel that the white Reiki light energy was as big as the house. It was the first time I had ever experienced it encompass such a large area. The energy was intensely comforting, and it gave such a sense of contentment and peace. It was as if we had all melted into one with the energy.
It was an amazing feeling and experience, and one that I will never forget. This is why I am sharing it with our Reiki community.
              That Reiki treatment occurred on a Saturday. Tuesday morning at exactly 4:00 AM, I was awakened very abruptly. I shot straight up in bed to a sitting position with such speed that I was instantly wide awake and wondering what had happened. Suddenly at that same moment, I had this huge, overwhelming feeling of gratitude that actually made me feel warm, as though every cell of my being was being hugged with such intensity that I was moved to tears of joy and contentment. I had no idea why or what had happened to cause this until at 6:00 AM, when Sharon called to let me know that Mark had passed away at exactly 4:00 am. I knew then that it had been Mark thanking me and saying good-bye.
             The emotional and physical pain relief and the ability of Reiki energy to give direction to this grieving family is testimony to the many positive results that are available to those who use Reiki.
In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, Reiki creates learning experiences, and it is an exciting adventure that rewards practitioners with amazingly interesting and often unfathomable experiences.