Death- The inevitable 5 letter word

What amazes me is that we all know we are going to die, this is an inevitable truth, but no-one likes to talk about it.  Once the subject is brought up it is quickly dismissed and the person that brings up the subject is thought of as morose.

Hey, you, or you, or you, we are going to die, every day we are one day closer to death. 

We don’t want to talk about it, the one thing that we know to be true, very few people plan for it as if speaking about it will bring it on quicker.  I am always so surprised by this.  Especially when it comes to a terminal illness diagnosis.  I mean, it’s not a just in case measure, it’s an advanced directive.  You don’t want others to tell you how to live, so why would you leave it to others to implant their wishes on you in death?

It’s a chance to tell people that care for you, your wishes, the not so pleasant discussion on how you want to die. Imagine getting that luxury, I know, an odd choice of words, luxury?  Think about it.  If you had to choose how you would die, see, most of you don’t even want to think about it. Why are you being so morbid, as if speaking about it, is so horrific. Why do we feel this way?  There are all these motivational workshops and videos on how to live, none on how to die.  I am in the process of doing thorough research on it and have read several books on this exact topic.

We all wait…… we have lots of time to discuss this.  (if you think that, please get in touch with me on your psychic abilities regarding this topic) I am not kidding!

The cliché – Tomorrow is not promised.  And it really isn’t.  People who thought they were going to wake up this morning, didn’t.  Death also doesn’t discriminate- it comes at any age.  Speak to a few people.  I have. I just did an interview recently, where I said those exact words- “if you are fortunate enough to age, we all hope to age, well.  There is no natural order on exiting this world, no sequence, yet we still don’t want to talk about it. 

 My mom was one of those people, and so was my dad.  My mom, perhaps not so much her fault as she has a neurological disease, so I am excluding her from this discussion.  My dad, of course, he just turned 59, so I suppose he thought, this was much too young to be planning such things.  Who would have thought he would have a massive heart attack without being sick?  Ummmm, my grandfather, would. His dad, my grandfather, died of a massive heart attack – went to bed at 55 and never woke up the next day.  I can’t even believe I am typing these words right now. We never spoke about it.  My dad, devout Catholic, never spoke about death, even though our entire religion is based on the paradox of eternal life. We would attend funerals and …….– nothing. Not a peep of, when it’s my time…… (yeah, your time, this is not a hypothesis, it’s a fact) Et tu Brute!

 When you die, and you don’t plan, it creates hysteria in a family. It leaves so much guessing and the unknown to everyone. It was all guess work, and immediate decisions and cremation or burial what would he have wanted?  Is that casket good enough?  Then you spend a small fortune, due to panic.

  Now it comes down to what we want, where should the ashes go?  I can’t visit them…. Yes, I just said that.  Visit them.  I know, a lot of people take comfort to going to a grave site where their loved one is buried to sit and speak with them.  It amazes me, because at the present moment, my mom is still alive, and no-one visits her because she cannot communicate. Ummmm, this just in, people at gravesites also cannot communicate with you- and if they can- well that’s a whole other conversation.

Yet, there are insensitive discussions on memorials for my mom.  (yes, I reiterate, she is still alive) No-one wants to come and sit with her and have all these discussions with her while she is alive, but I am sure, there will be a big show, when she is gone. It really baffles my mind.

It took along time to get here. Which is why I can openly discuss it, I have had a lot of time to reflect and digest, unfortunately, when it comes to death also,   I am faced with it daily.  It has become apart of my daily routine.  I don’t take anything for granted. My mom can go at any time, and because she has lived longer than most in her situation, not many people care.  I am used to it; however, it doesn’t negate that it is still hurtful.  Yes, perhaps, and that’s a big perhaps, my mom is not aware of everyone’s absence.  I am.  I am very aware.

Maybe I have a different outlook than most, I feel I have experienced death in so many forms, fiancé, grandmother, friend, father and soon my mother. It is not as if I have no emotion about it, it is just that the lack of discussion about it is alarming to me.

People always preface, the discussion about my mom’s impending death, with “sorry” – I am not sure why?  It is not a taboo discussion to me, it is a real discussion.  I have gone through it so many times. I have planned her funeral – twice- that I admit was difficult, but necessary.  I know it will be hard, but on me.  That’s what’s difficult about death, the finality of it.  If I have learnt anything from the experiences of both my parents- my father’s quick death- and my mother’s slow one.  It is not talking about it, doesn’t change it, it doesn’t bring it closer or doesn’t make it easier. 

I have had people tell me that, they wished their loved one was back- even though they were bed-ridden, just so they can hold their hand one more time.  Think of that statement.  You would rather the person be back with no quality of life, just for you. 

I am heart-broken that I did not get to say goodbye to my dad, and I can hardly think about it – that he was not surrounded by loved ones and embraced by his family members.  He died alone, in a hospital room.  We were not afforded that luxury.  He was able to die a peaceful death in his sleep. That would be the second death I missed.  However, I always told him I loved him after every call, so I would live with no regrets about not having the final goodbye. 

I also didn’t get to hold Norm’s hand either, but I did get to say, “hold on, I love you, I will be there soon.”  (maybe I meant soon, contextually). Maybe he knew, that that would be too much for me, maybe my dad knew too.  Thinking of it now, my dad probably wanted privacy to die. He was like that.  Spare everyone the hurt.  Maybe….. ?

 I always tell my son- “charbeque” or (cremation)- whichever you prefer.  I want to be cremated. I make light of if by saying charbeque, because I want him to know- that it’s just the body that is there- not me, my vessel.  I read someone’s take on death who said.  It’s like Johnny Depp driving towards Las Vegas down the long-deserted highway, and then the car breaks down, and he gets out and walks the rest of the way. The car becomes rusted and worn and delipidated, but he just gets out and walks.  I thought that was the best description of it; we are still on our journey, just not in that vessel.  

 The other day, I said to my son, “I signed my donor card, they can have everything except my eyes and my skin”.  My son replied “why?” I said, “well, I am sure if I die anytime soon, you would want to say goodbye and without my skin, it would be gross.” It was such a weird thing to think of, but a necessary thing to think of.  I mean I don’t know much about harvesting organs, but I am sure you have to do it pretty quickly.  He may be thinking very logical now, but he hasn’t experienced death the way I have, so he doesn’t know.  When someone dies unexpected, you have to see them, you want to see them.  When my dad died, I didn’t believe it – because he was in a different country.  It only became real when I actually saw him.  I had to touch him.  My son will understand this one day.

I remember my father’s cremation, in Trinidad, they only allow the immediate family to say goodbye – and they allow you to see the casket going in.  We wanted to protect my mom from that, so it was only my brother and I who went in.  As hard as that was, it was also very healing to me.  It was my chance to say goodbye to his physical form.  It hurts to write those words, but that’s just my love for him coming out.

Light at End of Tunnel

My grief for all of this is intermittent and sometimes engulfs me completely, and then I move happily along.  I also read a person’s description of it; it’s like a kite on a string, up in the stars, that I am holding onto and I don’t want to let go, I want to keep holding on, so I don’t forget. You can let go, that person will never be forgotten, grief doesn’t hold onto that person, the love does, and that is never ending.  

We have to wrap our head around the fact that everyone dies, every single one of us, dies.  It is not bad luck, or because this happened or because of that, it will happen to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US- no matter what. 

Since I wrote this, my mom has now been added to that list. She passed away, at home in what I know now, in her own way. What I mean about in her way, typically with Alzheimer’s disease- the last stage is the inability to swallow. So, my brother and I prepared, we knew when she stopped eating, it would be soon after that. But, not my mom- I don’t even know if she stopped swallowing. She went to bed and never woke up. It has taken me a year, to have the ability to write about this and not break down. – And I planned for it, so imagine if I didn’t. In retrospect, I am so glad I did. I was a mess, I could never have done it in the state I was in. And yes, sometimes selfishly I wish she was still here- but I suppose that is normal. She was a fighter, and she really gave it her all. Twenty years is a long time.

Six months after, I went to the funeral home, and started planning my own funeral. You would think I was planning some great event, but I suppose I was. I was so pumped. I sat there, and I said, “I am loving this experience, I feel so empowered!” There will be no guess work, I will pay in advance for my wishes, so that no-one has to go through the guess work or expense. I advise everyone to do this, you will feel a sense of empowerment and then you don’t have to think about it again.

Death to us is final, we can’t touch that person anymore, but we knew this was coming one day or the other.  It’s like a jack in the box, we spin the lever round and round and we know the jack is going to pop up, but we are surprised every time.  Death is similar, we know it’s coming, it’s inevitable, yet we are shocked every time.  Talk about it, ask loved ones what they want.  Even plan it, together.  It’s liberating.  It’s one less thing you have to worry about, and then get on with living.  You’ll thank me one day, on the flip side.

Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent, it clears out the old to make way for the new. Steve Jobs

The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude. Thornton Wilder

I’m not afraid of death because I don’t believe in it. It’s just getting out of one car, and into another. John Lennon

Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t. Richard Bach

Death ends a life, not a relationship. Mitch Albom

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows. Socrates

Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter. Albert Camus

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge – myth is more potent than history – dreams are more powerful than facts – hope always triumphs over experience – laughter is the cure for grief – love is stronger than death. Robert Fulghum

Part 1. When those you love die, the best you can do is honor their spirit for as long as you live. Patrick Swayze

Part 2. You make a commitment that you’re going to take whatever lesson that person or animal was trying to teach you, and you make it true in your own life. Patrick Swayze

Part 3. It’s a positive way to keep their spirit alive in the world, by keeping it alive in yourself. Patrick Swayze

caronleid

I believe you can learn something new everyday.

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