Getting older means dealing with the inevitable fact of death. None of us are getting out of this life alive.
As we age we all see and experience our loved ones passing on. Dealing with death can be catastrophic for any of us, especially when it is someone near and dear to our heart. I have read many articles and books surrounding death and how to deal with it. It is difficult to fully comprehend how we would deal with death until the time comes.
Here is an example of death I recently experienced. I was very close to my mother throughout my life. The last year of her life we hadn’t seen each other or communicated much because she did not agree with my choices as an adult woman. There are many challenges we faced the last year of her life. If I choose to sit and think about it, I am sometimes moved to tears.
My mom was a very healthy woman and was not dying when she went in for surgery (a surgery I asked her not to have performed). She decided to go to the doctors at her local hospital to perform the surgery (removal of a tumor). Needless to say, the doctors screwed up and my mom passed away due to a botched surgery. She went from a vivacious 70 year old woman who would walk everyday to church, to a woman being kept alive by machines. I can not tell you how traumatizing her death was for my dad, my brothers, my sister, my mom’s family/friends and me. We never thought my mom would die this way.
Holding my mom in the emergency room before she went in to see the doctors, my only concern was for her to know how much I loved her and to make sure she knew not to give up. I still had hope she would come out OK although she had pretty much physically wasted away and was extremely weak.
We don’t ever know when it will be our time or our loved ones time to leave this earth plane. We could die driving home from work one day. Moments are precious. It seems we get so caught up in life, we often forget to live and cherish it. Love yourself and let those you love know how much you love them.
Smile, laugh, and hug those you love. I remember before hanging up the phone with my mom, I always told her, “Mom, I love you” and she would say, “I love you too”. She wasn’t one for saying I love you without being nudged. I am glad I did those things with her. No matter how upset she was with me at the end of her life, I know she knew I loved her.
Although my mom did not agree with my choices as an adult woman, she still felt she had to be a “mom” to me. I have no regrets choosing to live the life I have chosen. It is important to live life how you decide you want to live it. Living life on your terms doesn’t mean you have to be arrogant or cocky. You will find many times there will be people who don’t agree and hate or bash you. Be prepared for it. Everyone has an opinion. Don’t make their opinion your business. it isn’t.
I learned the following from my mother’s death. My wish is one or two of these items helps someone improve dealing with their own grief (especially in the first few months after the death):
- Don’t act on emotion. You may be angry because of what people do or say to you or behind your back. Acting emotionally can only cause more pain to you and other’s around you.
- Understand everyone has their own process in dealing with death. Not everyone will grieve the same way. Allow people around you to grieve in their own way.
- Love yourself. Don’t condemn yourself or your choices.
- Forgive. Forgive yourself for anything you feel you did wrong or didn’t do. We won’t ever be able to change the past and can never bring the person back. Forgive who passed on. Know when they were alive they acted in their flesh and we all, at times, allow our ego to call the shots.
- Write a letter to your loved one letting them know how you feel. Take responsibility for your role in the relationship. Read it out loud as if you are reading it to them (privately).
- Allow yourself to feel. You will miss your loved one and it is OK. You don’t have to be any certain way. Remember you are dealing with this in the best way you know how. Give yourself some compassion.
- Remember the good times you shared. We all had challenging times with our loved ones. Remember the times which can help you to feel good and perhaps even make you laugh. Beating yourself up over the hard or challenging times will only make it more difficult.
- Meditate, pray, or visualize about your dead loved one. Talk to them or see them in your place of peace. Send them love.
- Don’t feel obligated to be around people who want to make you feel guilty for being who you are. If they don’t accept you that is fine, it is their choice. You can choose to not have them in your life.
- Don’t do anything out of obligation. When you do something, do it because you choose to do it.
- Live each moment to it’s fullest.
- Love completely, don’t hold back for fear of getting hurt.
NOTE: Make sure your loved ones set up a trust which is all encompassing. Not only do they want to indicate how their assets are dispersed but how they should be dealt with in a life threatening situation. If a loved one is being kept alive by machines how long do they want to stay connected? Do they want to donate their organs? In an emotional time, the last you want is for family members to argue about conversations that were had while your loved one was alive.
I realized through my mom’s death everyday is special. Don’t wait to do things you have wanted to do. Don’t look for excuses why you can’t be who you want to be. My mom lived her life for her kids, she wanted us all to be happy. I’ve learned to live life for myself first because other’s can and will let you down if you expect them to live life by your terms.
Acceptance is the highest form of love. Acceptance does not mean you have to agree with the other person’s lifestyle, simply love them regardless of how their life is lived. In the scheme of life, judgements only cause wedges within relationships.
Above all, I am glad my mom was who she was. She taught me so much about life and even death. I love her voice and I fondly remember the look she would give me when she was disappointed with my behavior. I miss her smile as it would light up a room.
Make sure you smile, love, live and appreciate your life. Embrace today for there might not be a tomorrow.
Be The Best You at Any Age!