1.05.2012

death & life.

I think everyone certain sensitivities- things they find incredibly interesting, and really move them right down to their core- something they feel really “connected” to, if that makes sense? This past weekend (hence my last post - no worries, we are all ok!), the events that came up were tied to life and death.

Mike gets the heebie-jeebies when it comes to anything death-related. Me? I feel like I was exposed to a more-than-normal amount of death growing up. Death has always struck me as incredibly fascinating. Beautiful in so many ways. The miracle of life is completed with this one, final act; the word “…died…” without hesitation, seems to send your mind flashing backwards, envisioning an entire lifetime of events. The character of an individual. Their smile. Their laugh. Memories- anything or everything. It’s just incredible.

Since last weekend, my mind has been thinking nonstop. This time around, I feel a certain sting of death more than before. Stronger than I've felt in a long time. I questioned how I can possibly raise a daughter even remotely equipped to deal with life these days. A few days of thinking, and all I can solidly come up with is by just loving her. Praying & loving her more than ever before. Trusting that she isn't really "mine," and He will take care of her perfectly. We put ourselves into units- couples, families, friends- but when it comes right down to it, this life is an individual journey.

For me, it’s not about having fear- I don’t have a fear of death itself. The emotion is almost always tied to those who are still living. Lately, I’ve been so amazed by stories of grace and love and faith. The power of connectivity as humans- the core values and inherent desire to live a life of joy. I have such gratitude for knowledge of eternal families. Gratitude for the love, faith, and compassion of a just and perfect Father in Heaven. My best friend and her parents were killed in a car accident when I was eleven, and I remember reading a book called “The Birth that We Call Death.” That phrase has always stuck with me. It’s an event- just one- it’s monumental in its nature because it is the end to what we know as our now. As the living, we move on because we have to, although “time” as we measure it for that one has stopped.
Isn't it all incredible?!

Shortly after my last post, I came across this article. It’s timing was spot-on, and it’s perspective was refreshing.

Nurse Reveals Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

2 comments:

  1. Good post Amanda. That nurse's article was awesome too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is beautiful Amanda. Very thought provoking. We are praying tomorrow goes well for everyone. If you go - give them an extra hug from me. My heart goes out to that family...

    ReplyDelete

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