Reflections on Death and Dying
I don’t know how much time I have left, and I’m dying.
But then again, so are you.
A close friend of mine just got word that he has stage 4 Melanoma that has metastasized through his blood and lymph nodes into other areas of his body with an ongoing schedule to be announced by a serious faced man in white.
He is dying as well.
My friend’s situation got me to thinking deeply about death and dying.
As a family friend and counselor I try my best to understand the mental anguish of all concerned and to observe the words that are withheld from one another when it is so important to communicate openly and fully. Having a medical death sentence brings a profound gift that many people are not offered – the gift of time together to wind up all of the lose ends of life; to communicate our love and appreciation and discuss what plans may need to be made for both the living an the soon-to-be-dying.
The bottom line in all of this, for me, is that we are all dying the moment we take our first breath, and therefore every breath we have is a gift. Most of us have no idea how long our life will last or how it might end. As for my friend, he might have a fatal car wreck on his way to the doctor’s office. We just never know. If he survives rush hour traffic, he has received a wonderful gift – the gift of knowing in advance that his hourglass is running out of sand, and the wherewithal to use the remaining time to arrange for the continuing well-being of his family; the time to think of the words to use to tell them how very much they mean to him, and his gratitude for their love and support throughout his life, not just at the end. He’ll even have time, before his health goes too far awry, to take that dream vacation with his wife.
It’s now a year later. The family took a wonderful ‘memory making’ vacation together and on their return his health took a marked turn for the worse.
He is gone now and his family is slowly putting their lives back together. He went quietly with his wife sitting by his side, speaking with him of their life and love and reading letters of support and love from friends and family. Their joint passage through this rarefied zone brought them closer together and focused their love for one another, while at the same time bringing a balance and closure that otherwise might not of been there.
I guess the rest of us will have to do that sort of communication and in-depth living on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis in case we don’t make it through the rush hours in our lives.
This I believe.
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