On 26 February I will turn 79, leaving me with but one year to achieve the average life span of the Australian male.
Given the assembly of the many different coloured tablets – each with its own purpose – that confront me morning and night, I’m confident of achieving this milestone.
It is surprising to me just how little interest people take in their death given they didn’t have any opportunity to do so in their birth.
These words are not meant to be pessimistic or morose, even humorous, but more to the point, they are simply about the process of death.
Truth be known people of my vintage ask themselves how many more times they will be called to vote. How many grand kid’s birthdays will I see, or grand finals, tennis opens, Melbourne Cups and others I have never missed? How many more articles for The AIMN?
We are not inclined to talk about death until we are face-to-face with it, and even then we try to push it away in the forlorn hope that it might be postponed.
Ask us to come up with stories about our birth and we will produce countless second-hand versions of family memories handed down.
Death is not the mystery it is made out to be. It is simply the reverse of the other mystery we call birth.
Death is a more remote thing. We allow it to hide from us until we have to talk to it.
Then when we are forced to ask questions about it in the quietness of self-reflection or with a friend, or relative, we find ourselves lacking any previous experience.
Can you remember your first experience of loss? When death first appeared in your life with any consequence. When your emotion stirred with an unexplained forfeiture. When you couldn’t marry death and loss together; what it looked like, what it was and how you should react to it.
Only when we face it with some experience of loss can we truly understand it. But the anxiety of it is something we carry with us all of our living days.
We never confront it until it becomes an immediate barrier to our living. Some older folk push it away, kidding themselves that it is a never-ending story.
People of faith have the promise of another and better life but not all are necessarily filled with conviction.
To be told that the life we are living is a forerunner or introduction to better one serves only to devalue the one we have.
In my own journey, I think about it a lot and try to put it into some sort of context that gives me an understanding of the why of it. But I struggle with my logic versus my emotion.
I guess I’m trying to understand the difference between the purpose of life and the reason for it.
I believe that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.
After a lifetime of observation I have concluded that the purpose of life is about procreation and as to the reason for it, well, put simply, there doesn’t, when you think about it, need to be one.
Life has been to me a series of questions that after examination have an explanation or they don’t and are quickly replaced with another series. Such is the enormity of our experience.
I don’t want this “shock horror” thinking that usually comes with the sudden death of a loved one. The “why” of it often has no enlightenment.
The process is important to me and I want my family to understand my life, my family, its disappointments, its grace, its inner sanctum of love, its worth, its challenges and its termination. Although they have experienced much of it already.
If you are looking for the ultimate expression of the purity of love, there is no better place to look than in the sanctity of what we call motherhood.
Most families are ill-prepared for the death of a loved one because they don’t think or talk about it. Of course, the suddenness of one’s departure or illness or accident cannot prevent this, but generally speaking, we know where the destination of longevity is headed.
The manner in which people die are so variable that we have no way of pre-empting it but as we approach life’s conclusion we should give thought to those things that would better prepare your family for your death.
Forgiveness might play an important part of the process, as might the expression of love.
If you don’t explain your legacy, how you wish to be remembered, to your family then you don’t do your life, the living of it, any justice, you would have lived it in vain even devalued its importance.
Take the time to casually talk to your family about your death, how you wish to die and your after death desires for your funeral.
People of faith may want to reconcile with their maker or just put things right and this can be confusing for the non-believer who in my view should just let it go without judgement.
For sure, it might help them resolve the missing gaps they may have in their thoughts about you.
For some, death can be long-suffering or sudden and shocking. Not everyone ends up in palliative care a hospital bed or their own.
For me, the less fuss the better. I have had that conversation with my wife.
My thought for the day
A Death Certificate might show proof of death but the legacy you leave behind will demonstrate how you lived.
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