In my administrator’s site for the blog I can see the words people have typed into the various search engines to find this blog. So often I see words that relate to talking to the dying, what do you say to someone that is dying?
Well I have hear the words come out of my doctors mouth directed to me, “You are dying”. Words no one want to hear, but everyday many do hear them. It is just a fact of live, at some point everyone is going to die. We all know we are going to die at sometime, but prefer to keep it as something, we just don’t think about as it, will happen but only some time way way in the future. I do hope and pray, all live long and healthy lives.
As much as we may deny any thoughts of our own passing, there are still times when death will just jump up and smack us in the face. We will all have to face the passing of loved ones, be they family, friends, co-workers or neighbors. A time will come when we all have to face the final passing of someone we care about. Sadly, there will be times when it is by way of a tragic accident and we will have no time to say our good byes. Other times the passing will be slower as with an illness. At times such as this we do have a time in which we can visit, spend time with this person before they are gone from our lives forever. I think it would likely be safe to say, that we would want to be able to provide support for the person or at very least we certainly wouldn’t want to do or say anything to make them feel worse. So what can we say or do?
I have said many times I am not a doctor, not a member of the clergy, not a therapist, I am in fact just me. I can only share my thoughts and feelings as I have heard the “you are dying” words. I realize everyone is different, every situation is different, everyone’s reactions are different. I can share only mine. I look back and see that even within myself, my thoughts, feelings and “needs” were different at different times.
I in fact kept those words to myself for the first 6 months or so. My thoughts were I didn’t want to burden or worry my family. There was nothing they could do, so why cause them worry or grief before it became necessary. Carrying a secret like that inside proved to be more difficult than I imagined. I needed to vent, I needed to let it out, but to who? To vent and to let this out was one of the reasons for this blog. Initially, I was anonymous, being Hudds53. Ironically, it was through the blog that my “secret” was exposed and my family found out.
Prior to that, partially through my writing on the blog and the support I was receiving through many comments from readers. Two realizations came to me. The Good Lord for reasons known only to Himself was giving me some extra time. Time to prepare myself for what was to come. Time to prepare myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I had already survived 4 heart attacks, 2 of which were described as massive, open heart surgery and here I was still being granted more time to prepare. It came to me, The Good Lord was granting me this extra time but that I was denying my family and loved ones the benefit of the “preparation” time.
As I looked deeper with in, I came to realize there was also a more selfish reason for keeping “my secret”. My thoughts revolved around the fact that “I” was the one about to make this final journey. My thoughts and feeling revolved around “me” and what I needed and wanted. I suppose it was sort of like, “hey, I am the one that has been told is dying, shouldn’t the world revolve around me and my thoughts and wants at this time”. I envisioned with dread the idea of spending my last days surrounded by crying, grieving loved ones. I have long felt it is harder on the families than it is on the patient or at least I know that to be true in my case.
I realized with my belief system in place, I am not afraid of what is facing me. I admit to being a little nervous about the actual transition from this world to the next. That being just because I am an admitted wimp when it comes to pain. I wonder can I use some of my “prep time” to help them with “their prep time” and help them to prepare for what we all know is to come or at very least not to make it harder or worse for them.
The day is approaching when I will move on. I will be fine, in fact I will be far past being fine, I will be in the most wonderful of all places. It is my loved ones that will be left behind to face the pain, the sense of loss, the grief. It does seem so unfair, I will be surrounded by and filled with so much love, peace and serenity, beyond my imagination and they will be left behind with pain and grief. It is in fact so unfair that I want to do what ever I can to help them through what we know will be a difficult time. But how?
I am sure anyone with proper training and experience could give a list of hundreds of ways. Well I don’t have that training so I can only give a few of the ways that sort of jump out at me through what I have experienced.
Hearing those words are something no one wants, ever. To say it really sucks when you do hear them is such an understatement. It did take me a while to get past the thought that “this is happening to me and sure while you may be hurting for a little bit, you will with time get over it and will STILL BE ALIVE, I AM THE ONE THAT IS GOING TO BE DEAD”!!!!!! Through Prayer and meditation I can to see that in my case at least, my family does have it much worse than I do. They know what is coming just as I do, but are forced to just sit on the side line and helplessly watch and wait. The feeling of helplessness has to be one of the worst feelings in the world, so badly wanting to do something anything but knowing you are helpless to really do anything. Let’s just take one of my rush trips to the hospital as an example. Usually, with in minutes of arriving I am pumped full of medications. Pain and discomfort if usually relatively quickly gone and I am in a drug induced calm and tranquil state. Not so with the family as they are forced to helplessly sit by watching and waiting. Often out in the waiting room, waiting as the doctors do their stuff. So much harder than what I am going through.
I wish I had some sort of magic wand or something I could just wave and all of their fears and worry would be gone. What do I have, really nothing but words and attitude with which I can try to comfort them and help them prepare for what is coming.
Maybe attitude is the most important. I think, I hope that by clearly showing I am not afraid of what is to come, may provide an element of comfort. I believe that by showing I am “OK” with the situation, it may ease their worry level or at least not add to it. For me it goes beyond that to what sort of last memories do I want my family to carry of me. If I allow my thoughts to remain centered solely on my self and my condition, it could be easy to slip into and angry bitter thought process. I was 53 years old when I heard those words “now how unfair is that, to hear those words at such a young age.” I could allow myself to become angry, bitter, mad at the world and lash out at anyone and everyone that comes near me. Realistically, what would that accomplish besides making my days miserable and making the lives of everyone around me miserable. Medically, it isn’t going to change anything or if it does it very well may shorten my life span through all the stress I would be bring on myself. If I became that person, think of the final memories I am leaving behind. That is not the way I want to be remembered, I imagine not the way anyone wants to be remembered. Attitude can determine your actions and actions do speak louder than words.
That doesn’t mean that words are not important. I must talk about and express my thoughts and feelings, get it all out so to speak. But at the same time i have to realize, just because of my health, I shouldn’t be expecting the world to suddenly be revolving around me. I am in fact not the only one going through this. My family, my friends everyone is going through it with me. Granted, when I make that final big step, I will do it alone. But in the journey up to that point, we share the journey. I need to recognize and accept that everyone deals with this sort of situation in their own individual way. I love my family and do want to help them as I always have. This in fact may be the last chance I get to help them in any meaningful way. I need to be willing to listen to them as they may share their feelings, their thoughts, fears, what ever. I need to be and I am open to talk.
As so often seems to happen, I sat down with I suppose an agenda in mind and have seemingly wandered off topic, which was to be talking to the dying. Getting tired so will try to get to that tomorrow.