This post was not easy for me to write. I suspect it won’t be easy for some to read either.
Death is something few of us ever really talk about – and with good reason. It’s a morbid and thoroughly depressing subject we’ll all eventually have to deal with, though it’s rarely a topic of conversation at the dinner table.
I think the older we get, and the more we see death and sickness with our own eyes in our own lives, the more the subject begins swirling around inside our heads. Yet even so, we’re still reluctant and even fearful to discuss it in any capacity with anyone.
There will come a time when discussions will need to occur with regards to final planning, from burial choices to sustainability as our lives draw to an unfortunate conclusion.
They’re unpleasant decisions to have to make, let alone discuss at any length, but they’re important nonetheless. But what I’ve started to think about and worry about to some degree is dying alone.
I believe we all harness a sort of defense mechanism when it comes to death. We convince ourselves that those on their deathbeds have no idea of reality or their surroundings – let alone anyone sitting beside them.
Ronald Anthony once said, “When we truly realize that we are all alone is when we need others the most.” In my mind, there is no time we need someone at our side more than at the very end of our lives. How the touch of another’s hand reminds us there’s still someone there loving and caring for us.
I was in the hospice room when my grandfather died – I was in my mid 30’s. It was the first time I had ever witnessed someone’s spirit surrender to the deterioration of the body they occupied for decades. And while he wasn’t coherent, I’m sure he knew he was surrounded by loved ones as he passed away peacefully.
Though it wasn’t expected he would leave our physical world on that specific day, I’m glad I was there – glad he didn’t have to die alone.
My wife was in the hospital room when her grandfather died – she too was in her mid 30’s. She and her mother sat vigil at his side – holding his hand and talking to him softly. And while he wasn’t coherent, I’m sure he knew he was surrounded by loved ones as he passed away peacefully.
Though it wasn’t expected he would leave our physical world on that specific day, she was glad she was there – glad he didn’t have to die alone.
When we die is not something we can control. All we can do is hope that when the time comes we feel a sense of comfort, safety and familiarity in the places and faces surrounding us. But I’m beginning to understand that perhaps the greatest gift of all is to know, maybe with nothing more than a simple touch, we didn’t die alone.
Morrie Schwartz once said that, “Death ends a life, not a relationship. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on – in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”