Episode 31 - The Spirituality of Death & Dying: A Conversation with Chaplain Andrew Campbell

Episode 31 - The Spirituality of Death & Dying: A Conversation with Chaplain Andrew Campbell

As spiritual leaders, we are here to usher people through all transitions in life…including death. This is a sacred privilege and one that we can hold with dignity and honor. Chaplain Andrew talks about the importance of holding the space for death and dying personally and professionally.

One of the only truths in life is death. And I know it’s a tough subject but, at one point or another, all of us will have to face it, whether it be the death of a loved one, the death of a friend, a client, a colleague, or even our own death. It’s a valid and worthy topic for spiritual practitioners, but especially for spiritual leaders. As spiritual leaders, we assist and usher people through the most transformative, extraordinary, and challenging times in their life. It is likely that, as a spiritual leader, you will face this time with someone as they grieve the loss of a loved one. I was lucky enough, early this year, to meet Chaplain Andrew Campbell. In fact, I met him because of my own father’s passing. He comforted me at a time of grief and inspired me with his own spiritual leadership. So I speak to him on this podcast today, and bring you some wise words, thoughts and things to consider on your own path of finding a place of comfort, even in death.

I knew right off the bat that Andrew would be an important person in my life and somebody that I would want to bring into our larger community to talk about this very, very important topic. I met Andrew during the death of my father, at a hospital in California, and he was incredibly instrumental in helping me navigate that very difficult process. And what he helped to open my eyes to is how important being present for death and understanding death and accepting it is as our role as spiritual leaders. As spiritual leaders, we have to work with people through not just the best and most momentous times of their lives but also some of the most challenging times of their lives.

And one of the things that you all hear me say over and over and over again is that, as a yoga teacher, you are a spiritual leader. If you are here listening to this podcast, this broadcast with me and Andrew today, then you recognize yourself in that role and you understand that people ask you about the bigger, more metaphysical questions of life. And whether or not we ask for that, that’s what we are here for, that’s what they’re calling us to do. And so, I wanted to chat with Andrew about giving us some tools on how to do this better. One of the things I realized, as I was going through the death of my father, is how actually terrible we are, as Westerners, about accommodating death, being present for it, accepting it. So, hopefully, he’ll give us some things to do, and without further ado, thank you for being here today.

How can we, as spiritual leaders, be more supportive during the process of grieving for someone else, for our clients, our friends, our family? What can we do?

I think we see that even in the way, as a society, we handle death. I remember my grandparents’ era and before them, especially growing up in the South, people died at home. They died in the living room, or in their bedroom, or somewhere like that, where it’s, now, so much of that has shifted to the hospital. Thankfully, we have the hospice movement, where people aren’t dying quite as much in the hospital, but, yeah, people die in the hospital, because it’s hard, it’s difficult.

Find out more about Andrew Campbell @acampbe4 on Instagram.

More resources from Andrew:

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Hospice and Palliative Care are distinct from each other but overlap in end-of-life care.

A good organization with great information about hospice that explains hospice very well and addresses many common concerns or misunderstandings about hospice is the Hospice Foundation of America. https://hospicefoundation.org/

An additional thing we did not discuss in the podcast was Advanced Care Planning. Doing the work to think through, discuss with friends and family, and put down on paper what is important and how you want your medical care to proceed in serious Illness is a real gift. Doing this work is both practical and spiritual because it helps cultivate calm in the confusing world of medicine and healthcare.

Resources mentioned on this podcast:
HigherEducation.Yoga Membership