Crossing The Creek
Practical Guide to Understanding
by: Michael Holmes, R.N.
About Crossing The Creek
Excerpts from Crossing The Creek
Caregivers frequently express a combination of amazement and relief at how accurately Crossing The Creek describes what they see taking place right before their eyes. Reading this book replaces fear and frustration with a sense of understanding.
No other book on dying process is as sensible, comprehensive, scientifically up-to-date, insightful and above all, helpful.
What do you suppose you will want to know when you are dying... or when you are caring for a loved one who is? How about...
What is happening?
Reading this book also helps prevent caregivers from making matters worse through ignorance.
Crossing The Creek does not simply tell you that dying people sleep a lot, it explains why. It does not stop with explaining that dying people lose their appetite or may become disoriented, it explains why these things may happen and how they can actually be helpful to the patient. And these things are explained within the context that dying process is purposeful.
Yes... dying process actually is purposeful... it has goals just like life has goals. And no... life and death are not opposites.
Death is a part of life, not life's end... yet Crossing The Creek is pragmatic, not religious. It acknowledges the essential spiritual nature of humans but does not preach or proselytize. It adapts to virtually any religious perspective, but without being religious itself. Crossing The Creek assumes life goes on (after death) and nothing more. It recognizes and accepts spiritual phenomena commonly observed by caregivers, but does not interpret those phenomena within the context of any particular religious doctrine. Your personal theology is your business.
Understanding and explaining death has perplexed human beings throughout time so taking it on is a daunting task... yet we all must take it on sooner or later since we will all die. Luckily, as it turns out, death and dying are not quite as mysterious as we sometimes think. Actually, our lack of insight into the enigma of dying is more the result of avoidance than anything else. When a person, or an entire society for that matter, pointedly avoids thinking about a particular subject, then that subject is likely to seem very mysterious. Whereas dispassionate observation and critical thought will dispel the fog surrounding that subject and inevitably make it seem far less baffling.
My books provide a common sense look at the entire process of dying... not just the biology, but the whole process. If we were just bodies then studying biology would cover the whole story, but we are more than just bodies, we are consciousness... the very stuff of which the universe is made.
Intellectual and emotional barriers have grown up between the arenas of science and religion, and this can be extraordinarily difficult for the dying to contend with. Crossing The Creek tears down these barriers. It fits easily into virtually any religious perspective while at the same time is simpatico with cutting-edge, quantum science.So now you can have your cake and eat it to. Crossing The Creek shows how scientific knowledge and spiritual views mesh. That is what makes Crossing The Creek so unique and comforting.
Understanding is comforting.
While Crossing The Creek covers a lot of territory it is still essentially an emergency manual designed for those who suddenly find themselves dying or caring for a loved one who is.
For understanding on a deeper level read...
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Note: This is probably one of the most misunderstood things about dying process and is the cause of a great deal of frustration for caregivers and discomfort for patients. Not being able to get a dying person to eat causes great angst for the living, but eating causes great misery for the dying. This chapter explains why.
Excerpt: Bodies have been going through this for thousands of years and have worked out effective techniques for keeping themselves comfortable. Pay attention to what the body is saying it wants… or does not want.
Note: This section gives a summary of what to expect in terms of bowel activity and what to do about it. It also provides a general description of what is normal and gives advice on when to stop worrying about bowels.
Excerpt: Stool softeners and/or laxatives are generally necessary to maintain regular bowel function, but it should be kept in mind that "regular" or "normal" during the dying process may be considerably less frequent than it was while the patient was healthy and active.
Note: Here you will find a description of how circulation is naturally altered by the dying process, leading to common symptoms or complications. Learn what to look for, how to head off problems before they occur, how to maintain comfort and what not to worry about.
Excerpt: The patient does not necessarily have to be moved far with every turn, just enough to change their pressure points.
Note: This section deals with another subject that, if not properly understood, will likely cause a great deal of unnecessary anxiety for caregivers and discomfort for patients. Breathing patterns typical of different stages in the dying process are also discussed, along with common misunderstandings about those patterns.
Excerpt: The pauses between breaths can be quite long; perhaps half to three-quarters of a minute, sometimes longer. Family and caregivers often find this very unnerving but it seldom is a clear indicator of anything specific... other than the patient is quite ill, which everyone was presumably aware of already.
Note: In this section Crossing The Creek starts getting into some of the more intriguing aspects of the dying process. There is a sleeping pattern typical of the dying process... one might even say diagnostic to some degree. It is also purposeful.
Excerpt: Interestingly, the normal sleeping pattern during the dying process is virtually identical to the normal sleeping pattern of newborns; off & on around the clock.
Note: There is a great deal of confusion about confusion in normal dying process. Some is to be expected and can be minimized by simply knowing what to expect. Some, while alarming to caregivers, may actually be helpful for the patient. And of course some types of confusion are abnormal and need to be treated.
Excerpt: Dying people are not losing their minds, they are struggling to grasp a more comprehensive perspective of reality. They are not disoriented because their perceptual capabilities are being diminished, their perceptual capabilities are, in fact, expanding… which is intrinsically disorienting.
Note: This is the longest section in Crossing The Creek and covers a lot of territory. It is not a discourse on how to treat pain, but rather an exploration of how pain may be perceived or even used by patients in an attempt to cope with dying process itself.
Excerpt: If a patient and family are not aware that confusion regarding time and space are normal for the dying, they may blame it all on the medication(s). Next, both patient and caregiver are inclined to either stop the pain medication(s) entirely or to severely reduce the dose. This seems logical enough in the short run and is done with the best of intentions, but will likely yield a poor result.
Note: This section is short but allays a common misconception that is often the cause for considerable unpleasantness.
Excerpt: Basically patients feel that way because they are losing energy. It is not possible to experience a loss of physical energy and not feel like you are losing energy.
Note: This is another area in which common misunderstandings routinely lead to an unnecessary increase in misery for all concerned; caregivers and patients alike. It discusses what is normal and gives some helpful suggestions.
Excerpt: People who are not currently facing death are often inclined to claim they have no fear (the living are very brave!) Some dying people claim to have no fear of death, but frankly, I have never seen a person facing death who acted unafraid.
Seeing People Who Have Gone Before
Note: Some of what goes on in normal dying process is truly wondrous but can lead to confusion and fear if not properly understood.
Excerpt: Whether we can explain it or not is irrelevant. It happens, and it happens consistently. It is not the prerogative of people who are not yet dying to pass judgment on the validity of the experiences reported by people who are dying.
Note: This section is the heart and soul of Crossing The Creek and underlines its unique way of describing dying process through the eyes of the dying.
Excerpt: As a person moves through the dying process, their statements (if they can be understood) may become increasingly symbolic in nature. This is because what they are experiencing and perceiving has less and less to do with the physical world.
Note: The title of this section is rather self-explanatory. It describes the grief process, pointing out what to expect, what is normal and what might indicate complicated grief.
Excerpt: Interestingly, we are sometimes surprised to discover what a feeling actually feels like. We might wonder what it would feel like to lose a parent. We might think we could anticipate how that would feel, then be entirely shocked by the actual experience. Even professionals who deal with death and dying routinely are astonished at how it feels to experience a personal loss. Anticipating a feeling and feeling a feeling are two very different things.