What If We Don’t Fear or Resist Death but Midwife It Instead


As I left the house for my daily hike, I felt intuitively drawn to hike the South Coast Trail near Muir Beach, but my Mind had other ideas. Mind said, “I want to go to Slide Ranch and see if Amber (the goat) has had her babies yet.” Intuition said, “No, South Coast Trail.” Mind said, “Hrrrumph.”

When I got to the top of my driveway, where I would need to choose to go left to the South Coast Trail or go right to Slide Ranch, I saw and heard fire trucks and emergency vehicles blaring their sirens and flashing their lights on Muir Beach. One emergency vehicle was climbing the steep South Coast Trail fire road. Three helicopters chop-chopped overhead. A Coast Guard boat had lights blinking out on the bay. Mind said, “Come on, let’s go see Amber.” Intuition said, “No, we’re going to South Coast Trail.” At least some of the time, I’m wise enough to know who to trust.


As I got closer, I realized that a full-scale rescue was underway. Mind wondered, “I’m a doctor. Am I supposed to help in some way?” Intuition said, “Just go and enter the Great Mystery.”

So I climbed down the hill to Muir Beach, passed all the fire trucks, and climbed back up the steep hill to South Coast Trail. As I approached the top of the hill, I saw firemen with binoculars gazing out to sea. By this time, teams of Coast Guard jet skis were sweeping the ocean in beautiful, disciplined formation, almost as if I were watching the Blue Angels fighter jets fly in formation over the Golden Gate Bridge during Fleet Week.


I asked one rescue worker what happened. “Overturned boat,” he said.

I told him I was touched by how hard we work to save one American human life, and I was simultaneously pissed off at how carelessly we might drop a bomb and kill un-American lives without blinking an eye. I told the fireman I was a doctor, that I used to be on the other side, staying up all night trying to save pregnant women who had been shot by jealous boyfriends, pumping chests until ribs broke and bag-masking oxygen into the lungs until my arms were so sore I could barely keep pressing. I told him I’d perform emergency C-sections to try to rescue the baby, even if we couldn’t save the Mama. He asked which hospital I worked in, and I said I wasn’t on the front lines anymore, but that I still held a special place in my heart for those who are.

I thanked him for his service. Looking through his binoculars at the choppy water, he said, “Well, if it were me, I’d sure hope there was someone out there looking for me.” His jaw was tight.


By this time, dozens of rescue workers were scouring for signs of the missing fisherman. I kept hiking on South Coast Trail, moving away from the busiest part of the chaos to a quieter place on the ridge trail overlooking the ocean. I could still see the jet skis sweeping the Bay in formation, but the noise of it all faded into the background. I put my iPod on shuffle and started to pray.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be safe. May all beings everywhere be free. May this One Being have peace in his heart. May his loved ones feel his love and feel the love of God as they navigate this uncertain time. May Divine Will come into being, whatever that may be.

I stopped at an overlook and felt into the ocean, opening myself to see if I could feel whether this Being was still alive. With my psychic boundaries clearly in place, with expressed clarity around my desire not to open myself to channeling this possibly distressed Being, I asked to be open to feeling the man out at sea. Is he OK? Is he still alive? Does he need help? Does he need comfort? Does he need love? (I didn’t know at the time that the person they were searching for was male, but I felt a clear masculine presence when I tuned in.) As soon as I opened that psychic portal, I felt him. In fact, he FLOODED in.

He was panicking. (I—the One—was panicking.) He was scared. (I—the One—was scared.) Our collective nervous system fired into stress response. I could feel him in my heart and sense his consciousness. I burst into tears that I knew didn’t belong to my separate mote of consciousness. I felt his grief, his confusion, his sadness over leaving this dimension, his grief over losing his family, his fear about how they would survive without him. Without knowing how I knew, I knew in an instant he was dying right in that moment.

I dropped into my heart and held him in the cradle of my heart, rocking him in my heart like a mother, reassuring him that all is and will be well that his family will be OK that he is transitioning to a calmer, less chaotic realm that he will be held and safe and loved unconditionally in this place where he will journey that I will be with him as he goes, if he wishes me to be there.

I feel his anxiety and disorientation. I tell him in my heart that he is dying, but that this is not something to fear or resist. I assure him that the very thing he is fighting will be more glorious than anything he could possibly imagine in this dimension. I promise to journey with him, if only for this brief time.

I stand in silence, eyes closed, in deep meditation, until I feel him quiet inside of my heart. I feel my heart open, and I feel his heart merge with mine until we are One, and there is peace. I rest in Beingness and feel the peace of the unity as the space between us closes. I know in this instant, “It is done. All is well.”

Right in this moment, I hear a rush, a loud whoosh whoosh, and I feel wind on my face, as well as a thrust of wind pushing me from behind. I am standing near the edge of the cliff, so I brace myself and catch my feet beneath me, opening my eyes, startled. When I open my eyes, I see that two hawks are circling right over my head, only about 6 feet above me, so close that I can hear the wind in their wings and feel the breeze above and behind me. My heart bursts.

Then I look up, and above me, I see that four turkey vultures are flying in perfect formation, mirroring the sweeping formations of the jet skis that are still swishing across the ocean in front of me, almost as if the birds are mimicking the humans. I watch them, mesmerized, my heart exploding with rapture. As I watch them, the song that plays on shuffle on my iPod is “Bring Him Home” from the Les Miserables soundtrack.

As I gaze upward, I see that the sun has a perfect prism in a large ring around it. I wonder if I can capture it on my phone camera. I shoot direct into the sun, almost blinded, and when I look at the photo to see if it shows the prism, I see a perfect green orb outside the rainbow ring. I snap again from the same position, and it is moving closer to the prism ring. Curious whether the camera can see something my naked eye cannot, I take a dozen photos and everyone shows the green orb getting closer and closer to the Source of bright light. The green orb moves closer and closer until it merges into the Light Itself right as Bring Him Home ends. I think of the sperm penetrating the egg, bringing new Being to life. I feel the rebirth as it happens. I have no way to prove that the green orb is the fisherman’s soul and not just some artifact of the camera, but I sense in my heart that this orb is him, transitioning. It touches my heart and breaks me open.

I am weeping with joy, awash with the glory of it all. I can feel this Presence and it is leaving this dimension, going into the Light with so much peace and trust and acceptance. I feel such gratitude for whatever impulse invited me to hike the South Coast Trail at that moment. (Amber, I love you, but this is EXQUISITE!)

The shuffle on my iPod changes and The Canadian Tenors start singing “Hallelujah.” As the song begins, I see that the jet skis are coming back to the beach. The helicopters are flying away. The sun is beginning to fall toward the west as it lowers in the sky. The boats motor away. The rescue truck drives down the hill and passes me.

“Did they find him?” I ask. The rescue worker says no. He looks disappointed, as if he failed. I remember that feeling, how much responsibility I took when someone I spent all night trying to save died. I want to tell this weary hero that this Being we lost is so so SO fine that nobody failed that his spirit went directly into the light without hesitation and that all is and will be well.

But I don’t say anything. I wish I could hug him, but he doesn’t seem open to it. I want to tell him, “I know it feels like you all failed. I know how disappointed you must feel. I know how hard it is to lose someone. But OH MY GOD, the GLORY he showed me! The MAJESTY! This is not a tragedy. This is a celebration!

But I don’t say this to him. I feel it deeply in my own heart, but I only say, once again, “Thank you for all you do.”

Just then, my iPod shuffles again, and Josh Groban sings “You Never Walk Alone.” I laugh out loud. Really, Universe? (My iPod is full of bubblegum pop music, rap, country, New Age spiritual tunes, and classical, in case you’re skeptical and think I always listen to intense Broadway and opera music!)

By the time I get to the bottom of the hill, the jet skis are all on shore and I want to go hug them so badly I can barely contain myself. I want to show them the photos of the green orb going into the light. I want to ask the name of the missing man so I can call his family and show them the photos, but Intuition says, “Just go home, sweetheart. Thank you for your service.” So I do . . .

When I go home, I hug my 11-year-old Mystic Goddess daughter Siena, who has been home alone while I hike. She is quite sensitive, so out of curiosity, I ask her if anything strange happened while I was gone. She says, “Just that I heard footsteps in your bedroom upstairs, so I thought you were home. Only I went upstairs and you weren’t there. The room was empty.”

I told her what happened on Muir Beach, and when I did, she said, “Mama, maybe that Being’s soul tried to come into your bedroom and hang out in the crystals on your altar.” (Not infrequently, my very psychic bodyguard roommate April will traipse up my stairs with a grumpy frown on her face, rummaging through my altar items until she locates a crystal and says, “There’s a Being in here.” She then soaks the crystals in salt water and drags us all out to the labyrinth in the backyard, where she goes into trance and we endure hours of ceremony while she sends the Being into the Light. “Out! Out! Go into the light!” She never remembers these ceremonies, but we do.)

I tell Siena maybe she saved April a trip to the labyrinth. We giggle. Maybe the Being encountered Siena and decided not to stay. Maybe Siena is learning the same psychic bodyguard powers that April has. We don’t know. We just wonder, constantly in awe of the Mystery of all that Mind doesn’t understand.

Siena and I light sage and palo santo. We light a candle on the altar for the fisherman that has died. We decide to let it burn out in honor of his life and transition, in hopes that his family will find peace in the midst of loss. We play him a song. We choose “The Hymn of Acxiom” by Vienna Teng.

And then we light a fire and let it all go . . .

This morning, as I searched the news for any evidence of closure, I found this. It comforted me to know that his name is Juki Dang. He was a 64-year-old fisherman. If his family ever Google searches his name, I can only hope they find this story, see the photos of his spirit going into the Light, and know that all is and will be well—and that my heart is with them as they grieve.

I realize as I write this with deep emotion in my heart that perhaps, as strange as it seems to my Mind, I have been in training for this kind of death midwifery my whole life. As an OB/GYN, I ushered souls into the world and took that responsibility very seriously. For twenty years in my medical life, I had a front row seat on life and death, and I felt so grateful for this intimacy, this intense privilege. After leaving my hospital work in 2007, I have been the first responder in many situations outside the hospital with people who were on the verge of death, as in this article I wrote here (“When Someone Almost Died In My Hands“) five years ago, when I felt helpless because I didn’t have my medical equipment. I now realize that perhaps I’ve been training for this kind of psychic midwifery for many many years. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, and I certainly never chose this kind of calling. But I’m open to helping souls journey like this if it’s aligned with Divine Will. I know many other shamans and healers are gifted in this skill, and if I’m meant to help facilitate this, I know I will be shown what is needed.

As I write this, I am on my way to Africa on my mother’s “bucket list” trip. As she navigates her journey with a “terminal” illness, I am aware that I might need to have experience with this skill to serve my own mother, and I wonder if I am up for it. I hope, if it is necessary that I can give her the same gift, and that she can give me the gift of journeying with me—with so much deep love in our hearts.

Thank you Divine Spirit for giving me the opportunity to journey with Juki Dang. May Juki’s soul and all Beings who leave this dimension rest in deep deep peace.

With so much gratitude,

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