I don’t imagine this will be my most popular topic to write about but when you are told that yours may be imminent, it has been cause for me to explore the topic. It is said that we are born to die. And it is true, nobody gets out of this life alive. Even Jesus had to experience physical death before eternal life.
In this day and age we have distanced ourselves from the concept of death. We have hospice and funeral homes. But just a century ago, most people died in their own homes, surrounded by family members and death was observed by families, up close and personal. This is not the case today. It was also something that many cultures embraced and prepared for. Whereas, in today’s society where we avoid the subject or reality of it, at all costs. I am not saying that I am racing to the grave but I have made a bit of a study of it.
In many cultures or beliefs there is a bit of a ceremony at the time of transition. Drums are beat, chants are made, music is played. Here is the US, the priest or pastor is called at times and the last rites are said etc. But what is all this about? Is it for the departing soul or for the remaining family? If you die alone, does it make an eternal difference to the dying? Many of the dying wait until they are alone to slip away. They find it difficult to do when surrounded by family and wait and quietly slip away when someone steps away for just a moment. It’s as if they cling to life while surrounded by family but find it easier to depart when no one is around. I have heard of this happening many times.
My very first experience with death came when I was 8 years old. My young and beautiful step sister was dying of brain cancer. I was very young when the reality that children die too, was thrust upon me. It was sad and difficult watching a child I played with and cared for, die a slow and agonizing death. And I am struck with my own cancer in my brain and my gamma knife success, how different it may have been if she had been diagnosed in today’s medical age.
My next death experience came when I had just graduated high school and my great grandmother (who had survived breast cancer in the 1940’s) was dying of leukemia. After graduation, I went to live with my grandparents once again and helped with meals and laundry while Nana took care of Nanny until she drew her last breath. Nanny was surrounded by loved ones and in her own bed when she died. The coroner was called, they came and took Nanny away and we had a traditional funeral service for her.
Then came the death of my second husband’s sister. She drank herself to death. She had been told where her drinking was taking her but she did not heed the warning and drank herself into full blown liver failure. I remember being mad about this death it seemed so senseless at the time and she left behind 2 teenagers and a husband. I later found out about some trauma that must have scarred her on a very deep level that she hid and it most likely ate her alive. She died in the hospital and was not in her right mind as the toxins (from a failed liver) built up in her system. It was very sad to watch, especially knowing that she had done this to herself.
Since my breast cancer experience, I have witnessed many folks on their deathbed. I am a witness to their passing. I am OK with being there. I have had very deep conversations with folks who are passing over and I have had a glimpse of what comes after. There is an after. This life that we see and experience is not all there is. Souls (mine and yours) live on beyond the relinquishment of the physical body. The essence of who we are goes on. It does not matter what you believe happens after that……know this, you will continue to exist. The love you expressed, the people you helped, the kindness you showed matters.
Take some time out of your life to figure your next stop. It always amazes me at how much time is spent preparing for things that MIGHT happen and so little time is spent on what is definitely going to happen, at some point. Death comes for us ALL, no exception. What are you doing to prepare for yours??