The inevitable and unavoidable!
I want to mention a subject which is not normally discussed at the breakfast table, in fact, probably at most meal tables. It is the subject of our demise. Now please don’t switch off or stop reading! Interestingly, I have found a myriad of books on the subject of “dying with dignity” or other similar titles. I just wonder how people can write on “how to die” when they are still alive!! On the other hand, I guess it is rather difficult to write the book once you are dead!!
An obvious observation in our society is that the subject of death is avoided in most conversations. I assume the thought is that it will disappear if we don’t talk about it. Sweep it under the carpet and it will go away. However, I can assure you that when you get to my age the bump under the carpet is obvious and it doesn’t go away. The last I heard; the ratio of death was one to one – with no exemptions! The inevitable and unavoidable aspect of life is that it will end with death.
I sometimes wonder if those people who are informed that they have a certain time left to live, are in a better position than most of us, because they know roughly how long they will be around, and they can plan accordingly. If you read the book Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly, you will be astounded at one man’s preparation for dying, after being told he had three months to live. He systematically said goodbye one on one to work colleagues, friends and then family. For some it was more than they could handle. They found it very difficult to accept the ease with which he was embracing the inevitability of his death.
Several years back a friend asked me to have coffee with him. He then proceeded to tell me that he had just been told he had about 11 months to live. He died 11 days later. Many people have no time to prepare. An accident happens and they are gone. For others it is a long-drawn-out process of a medical struggle to keep them alive. Usually, an unwelcome experience for the person and the family.
In our Retirement Community, one person recently passed away at 105, another at 103 while another who is still with us, was 101 last month. There are a good number of people in their nineties, but most don’t even reach that age. Some of my friends of similar age to me have gone already. That brings a certain personal application to the reality of it. However, I think I am ready.
I am sure most people identify with this quotation which was attributed to Woody Allen, “I am not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens!”
Maybe it’s worth asking ourselves the question as to whether we are living in denial of death. Death is part of life. It’s unavoidable, so the sooner we come to accept its inevitability, then the sooner we will experience a normal perspective and have the sting and fear taken out of it.