A Happy and Thankful Life



at the end

Today was a sad day. A day that we knew was coming but that doesn’t make it any easier. Anyone that tells you differently is lying. Knowing that a loved one is going to die doesn’t make it any easier than when you don’t know it’s coming. I feel as though I can say that as I’ve been through both.

A kind woman at work passed away today and my heart aches for her boyfriend, family and friends that love her dearly. She was a strong woman who impressed me with her grace and kind words when I saw her. One of her closest friends and I have been talking and she came in this morning to update me.  She was on her way to be with her.

I’m not one for advice…especially when it comes to death and grief, but I was reminded today of what a counselor said to me in the last days of J’s life. I was so stressed out and trying to do and be everything for everyone. But the thing I worried most about was him being alone when he passed away. We had gone through everything together and I didn’t want him to be alone. It terrified me. The counselor pulled me aside and when I told her my fear, she said something that calmed me.

She said that while they don’t have scientific proof, many of them feel as though their patients choose when to die. Some patients choose to wait until everyone leaves the room. This could be a way to protect friends and loved ones from those final moments. Others wait until a particular person has arrived. She told me that if he wanted to be alone, he would be. But if it was that important to me that I was there, that I needed to tell him that now. Knowing him, he would have passed while alone to spare us that. J wasn’t very coherent towards the end but I did tell him how important it was to me that he wasn’t alone. And at the end, he wasn’t.

As much as I appreciate and love science, it doesn’t have all the answers. Some things can’t be proven. This is one situation where I will trust the counselors who experience this every day. Also, I can’t see how it can be bad if it brings comfort to the families instead of them battling with the “what its?”. This conversation with the counselor brought me comfort and allowed me to breathe and not stress as much over the inevitable. I repeated these words to my friend today with the hope that it would also bring her some comfort.

I’m thankful for these words that brought me comfort and that I hope will bring comfort to others. I’m thankful for a system, such as hospice,  that is there to let people spend their final days, months or years in comfort and on their own terms. That this system provides support not just for the one that passed but also those that are left behind. I’m thankful to have known this kind woman and that she was able to live her life on her own terms.

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