“Love and death are the two greatest gifts we can pass on
and usually they are passed on unopened”
We may not all pay taxes or even get married, but we will all die at some time. Regrettably, we can not choose the how’s and why’s of our passing. For individuals with terminal illnesses, many choices can be made regarding how they spend their last days and take their final breath.
What is a good death? The passing from life, as we currently know, is seen in many cultures as the beginning of a voyage into a great unknown. They see the death experience as the first step into an existence separate from our physical bodies. According to a Gallup pole, 74% of Americans believe in a life after death. Interestingly, most of us try to run away from it. While we may not want to think about it, death and dying is something we must all face. It is the most natural thing we all do and is often found to be the most meaningful part of our lives. Unfortunately, the miracle of death has been shut out of our lives by modern medicine for the past 30 – 40 years.
On the advent of death, some people choose to spend their time giving their illness or their treatment all of their attention. Others choose to use this time to learn about themselves or for forgiving those that have wronged them in the past. Others may choose to spend this special time in their lives searching for a place of inner peace, a release from their struggle, or hoping to achieve a level of acceptance for the path they are on.
Moving Through The Fear
When asked, the majority of people fear the pain, suffering or potential humiliation they may experience due to their illness the most. This fear, many times, has more to do with dealing with an unknown (i.e. health care options, pain management, family and friends) than it does with their actual physical issues. It is important for these individuals to take the time to talk about their thoughts, feelings, values and choices surrounding death, bringing their ideas and ideals into the light of day. This will help to ensure that their needs and desire are met. It will also help to eliminate some of the hard choices their loved ones or even the “system” might be forced to make.
A quick side note to friends, family members and loved ones of those on the twilight of death: it was once said that grieving is the tax we all pay for our attachment to the ones we love. While this may not lessen your emotional suffering, it can be used as a gauge to validate your love and caring
So what do you want as you sit perched so close to death? You are the director of your life. As with everything in life, you have choices. You can choose to live as much life as you can into the time you have left or you can try to avoid the unavoidable. Regardless of if you have only one day left or are blessed with a few years, you can choose to make each and every day a miracle. Embrace the miracle of life and let it guide you on to death.
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