Christy Moe Marek, from Tending Life at The Threshold, is a compassionate soul companion and healer specializing in guiding individuals through the profound journey between life and death. Certified in various disciplines like Anamcara End of Life Practice, End of Life Doula work, Meditation Instruction, and Intentional Creativity Guidance, she brings a rich tapestry of skills and experiences, blending yoga, qi gong, reiki, shamanism, intuitive creative practices, and sacred storytelling. Through her role as a Sacred Story Whisperer, Christy harnesses the power of storytelling to bring healing, connection, and reframed perspectives to the human experience. Christy shares snippets of her journey with MysticMag.
Can you share your personal journey and what inspired you to work with people in embracing the sacredness of the soul’s transition from life to death?
Working with people at end of life is a calling for me, one that surfaced for the first time shortly after I graduated from college 30 years ago. My degree is in Child Psychology and I happened to meet a woman one day who was working in a new profession (at the time) – Child Life Specialist. I asked her what that was, and she said that she worked with children who were terminally ill. I can remember the instant she said those words and every detail of that moment – it was as if a lightning bolt moved through me. I knew with a clarity I can only describe as serendipity that this was work that I would do. At the time, I had no idea what that might look like, and it frankly scared the pants off of me. So, I tucked it away and told no one. Over the years it surfaced and resurfaced until it became clear it wasn’t going away – and the time became right – so, I said yes and haven’t looked back since.
What I hadn’t realized that day was that I would be worked on by the universe over time, slowly prepared for this work. During those years, I followed my passion for creative process and the healing arts into intuitive writing and painting, yoga, baking, experiential education, enneagram, energy work, meditation, earthing, shamanism, inquiry and the like. More personally, I was being initiated into death and dying, grief and loss through my animal companions and those of others who began requesting my presence and support. And then through a health crisis with my mom, placing us square in the education offered by the Western medical system that is inevitable when navigating emergent health conditions, chronic illness, and long-term care.
I like to say that I “came in” with this calling and even though I said no to it for about 20 years as I was being honed, I can’t imagine there was ever a time I wasn’t doing this work of walking alongside others as they navigate the thresholds in life – in particular, dying, death, loss, and grief. The regard I hold for the sacredness of life’s transitions, for the education we all receive when we are curious and willing to explore our own experience, is the fuel I have for this work. It is central to who I am and how I move through the world – knowing there is more happening than we can possibly comprehend, that life is an “inside job” just waiting for our open participation, and that we are never alone in the process. My purpose as it continues to unfold is to accompany people in the depths of their exploration of themselves and why they’re here, in weaving together the threads of their sacred story, and in utilizing what they discover to live in their wholeness… so they may find growth, meaning, and the contentment of joy (however that might appear amidst all of life’s ups and downs) all the way through to death and beyond.
You mention that the soul instinctively knows how to transition from life to the Other Side. Can you elaborate on how individuals can reconnect with this innate wisdom and navigate the challenges and attachments that often come with the end of life?
So much of our experience of life comes from the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening and why. When we willingly engage the inner work required to know the whole of ourselves, investing in the purposeful exploration of what the unfolding of our lives to this moment (and ongoing) has to teach us, we tap into the innate wisdom of the soul and the ways it supports our living as a spiritual being in human form.
What is my purpose? Why am I here? Where did I come from and where am I going? What am I here to share, learn, open to, and discover? What is alive in me and how do I honor that? What perspective and view of life and death supports me in my living moment-to-moment? Entertaining inquiries such as these opens us to noticing the information our lives are offering us all the time.
When we are curious and willing to explore ourselves and our experience – our reactions, behaviors, habits, patterns, beliefs, conditionings, expectations, attachments, etc. – we realize we have all of the raw materials and the roadmap we need to live a consciously engaged life that reflects who we are and who we want to be, no matter what is happening. We can know ourselves as responsible, sovereign, relational beings who possess the power of choice in each moment, even when we don’t like what’s happening to us or those around us. When we practice living our life in this way, we naturally open up the possibility of living into our death in this way, as well.
Many people struggle with the fear and resistance that can arise when facing their own mortality or that of a loved one. How do you guide individuals in embracing this fear and using it as a catalyst for a more conscious and meaningful experience through illness and the transition to death?
Our entire biological being and our psyche are hardwired for survival – to expect that we won’t have to navigate fear in the face of illness, dying, and loss is to set ourselves up for unnecessary suffering. It is natural and expected that fear and resistance are a part of our experience as we face our own mortality and that of a loved one. Normalizing this in a culture that neither acknowledges or looks at fear, which idolizes strength and powering through anything, smacking of weakness or vulnerability is paramount.
I have an inherent respect for and trust in each person’s own process and wisdom. In this collaborative relationship, my role is to be a companion on the journey, listening deeply to what is both being said and what remains unsaid, mirroring back for them what they already know, and opening doors that help them access their own truth. Through ongoing conversation about who they are and how they got here, alongside what is happening moment to moment and what is arising in them as a result, we explore what in their own personal process is unhelpful, what might be running them from the basement (unconscious thoughts, beliefs, reactions…), and seek to discover where within them they know a deeper wisdom.
Again, I trust we all have the raw materials and the roadmap within us – it helps to have a companion on the journey who can hold the lamp, help us remember where we’re headed, and why.
You speak about identifying the possibilities in holding both the present moment and the desire for a longer life. Could you provide some practical advice or insights for individuals and their families in striking this delicate balance between acceptance and hope during a life-limiting illness?
There is something that happens in the mind when our mortality becomes a closer reality rather than something we can put off thinking about and hold at arm’s length. Our sense of time is compressed, we are no longer able to plan ahead as we are used to, and there is an immediacy to everything that the typical spaciousness of the mind doesn’t really know how to work with. Because of this, it’s important to slow things down considerably and be present with what is actually happening, alongside what we want to be happening. There is a gap that exists between these things and when we are aware of that gap, we can see more clearly what we are navigating and what possibilities exist in that space.
For example, you have terminal cancer, aren’t responding well to treatment, and are growing weaker. Also, your daughter is getting married (or graduating, or having a baby, or…) within a month and you can’t imagine not being there. Trying to hold these seemingly conflicting realities is causing a considerable amount of spiritual pain and suffering. When we slow things way down, we can see that there is a very real possibility you won’t be there. We can also see there may be treatment options or palliative support that could make you more comfortable and help you to live long enough to be there. We can acknowledge that it may not be in your control and consider what you might want to do to be there in spirit if you aren’t able to be there in person.
By giving voice to what is, even when it is uncomfortable to do so, we have access to the different possibilities for engaging what is happening, and staying close to what is most important, even if it might not look the way you want/expect/hope it will. And, we do this even while being real about the anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment of being in this situation in the first place. Everything belongs.
This kind of radical acceptance, permission to be wherever we are moment to moment makes it more possible than we realize when we’re trying to push things away or force them into some prescribed outcome.
We don’t have to like what’s happening and can be present with that; we can hold what feels impossible and still find possibility and choice there. It is a process, as are we. When we commit to being present in that space, spiritual pain is addressed and in that tending, the emotional charge of it is alleviated. Then we see more clearly what is our next best step.
In your work, you emphasize the importance of curiosity, engagement, and compassionate guidance. Can you share a powerful example or story from your experience where these elements played a significant role in helping someone achieve peace of soul and mind as they approached the threshold of death?
A number of years ago, I had a client who was in the last weeks of her life. She had six grandchildren and one on the way, who we anticipated she would not be alive to meet. We were working on a project to leave them each with a box with cards from her for a number of milestones that she wouldn’t be present for – signed by her with bits of wisdom or encouragement she would have wanted to be able to share if she had been there in person to celebrate.
She expressed that she wanted me with her when she worked on the project, yet each time we got together something else took precedence – an errand or a walk – anything but the task at hand. I was increasingly aware of the limited nature of time, though I was clear it wasn’t my “job” to push the project, so I remained open to where she was in her process and offered soft suggestions to direct her to the cards if she was willing.
After many visits of her redirecting our attention to something else, I mirrored back what I was seeing and gently asked what might be happening for her. “I know these cards for your grandbabies are important to you. And I’m noticing that each time we’re together, you are more interested in doing other things. Do you have a sense of what that might be about?”
She got quiet and thought for a bit. After a few minutes I noticed emotion welling for her. “I guess part of me thinks that when the boxes are finished, it will be time to go – and I’m not ready yet.” It was a profound moment. By creating the space for her to engage with the wisdom that was brewing within her, she was able to access her deeper knowing and give voice to her truth.
Our opportunity then was to notice that each time we were together, there was this fear that needed acknowledgment, space, and care. Once we engaged that fearful part of her and expressed curiosity about what wisdom it held rather than judging it or pushing it aside, a new possibility arose and the energy she was using to avoid the fear was redirected into engaging what was most important to her – ensuring her young grandchildren would remember how much they were loved and watched over. The whole of this process ultimately brought her peace with both what was happening and how she was choosing to work with it.
If you would like to find out more about Christy Moe Marek, visit https://tendinglife.com/