Death isn’t a topic most folks have on the mind, to be honest, many folks don’t even want to think about it.
My dad was that way. He wouldn’t allow you to mention death or dying around him.
I suspect because he didn’t want to unearth the pain and distress he’d never properly dealt with as a result of losing his family members one by one from an early age, so he coped as best he could.
Coping for many folks means ignoring, pretending, eating, and/or self-medicating with sex, drugs (street, prescribed or OTC), shopping or swigs, sips, shots and chugs during those times of discomfort until discomfort becomes the daily norm when folks will inevitably argue they are not addictive for bonded.
Fact is, there is no escaping our season of death and while it may be overwhelming in the moment to think about it, it doesn’t have to be dismissed or ignored.
For the person planning, pre-planning their wishes and desires all the way to the family who will be surviving their loved one I can tell you as an end-of-life Doula, being
present in our heart, mind and body is the best gift you can give your loved one during this time.
We are not born alone into this world, and should not die that way. Now I’m not suggesting holding a vigil is for everyone, still I will share this - There’s a fundamental set of 101 basic “How do I,” and wouldn’t you want the tools to support them?
How much do your really know and understand about the dying process. Are you prepared to support a family member or friend?
Honesty is invaluable - Do you think there would be an interest in a virtual “Transitioning” symposium?
Basically the 101’s on the process of death how to be present.
-How to prepare.
-What to look for.
-What to expect.
For instance, did you know when the body is beginning the process of transitioning the body will close down, one organ system at a time?
It lets go of what it doesn’t really need in order to concentrate its waning energy on the most important tasks: continued breathing and blood flow. Think of it like a tree in the fall. The tree releases its leaves and some limbs as it pulls all of its energy to the core to withstand the season. Our body systematically closes down beginning with loss of appetite and ending with heart and lungs.
I’ve had the honor of setting with individuals during their transition and one thing that I educate their family members on is that hearing is one of the last senses we lose. So educating individuals that they do not have to yell as though their loved one is hearing impaired as well as to be sensitive and not talk about them as though they’re already gone right in front of them. To leave the room when there are overcome emotionally or perhaps have a disagreement with another family member doctor, or nurse.
Equally important is to remain present, emotionally and respectfully… Being aware not to tell your loved one things like;
“you’re dreaming, you’ll be just fine, you just need to get stronger”
“don’t leave us”
“You’re just seeing things, no one is there”
Presence when death knocks on the door is the kindest gift we can gift our loved one and ourself.
Many folks simply don’t understand the process. This could be because it was never discussed in their family of origin, or thinking about their own death tends to make them uncomfortable.
If I’m being completely transparent, our society does not embrace death in a way that ushers in healthy conversation. It remains a taboo topic yet is such an important phase of one’s life.
Should we not try to understand it?
A deeper understanding of how to create your own end of life experience with your wishes, possessions and legacy, as well as holding space for a loved one and ushering them from this world to the next won’t take away your pain as a Survivor, but then again it’s not about us is it?