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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Preparing for End of Life

I'm not sure how to begin this post as end of life is such a taboo topic in American culture.  As Americans, we've created a false, outward society where youth, beauty and health is everything and we're removed from dealing with the ugly, the old, the sickly, the feeble, the dying.  Since we're a major industrialized nation, Americans act as if death is an abstract that doesn't apply to us; after all, modern medicine can take care of everything.  We simply go on like we do everyday and let someone else handle the ugliness, the sickliness, the old and the dying.  But at some point, the ugliness and the sickliness catch up and we're forced to face it head on.

That's where my family is right now. 

We're watching helplessly as my husband's mother makes her way toward the end of her life.  No doctor can help her.  No medicine can cure her.  No amount of rest or nutritious food can reverse the course.  All she has is time;  maybe months if we're blessed and her will persists.  This has been such an unsettling experience for us, watching a youthful, playful grandmother deteriorate in front of our eyes.  And yet, there are so many lessons to be learned.  So much knowledge to be gained.  After all, preparing for death is merely an extension of preparing for life.

Here's what I've learned:

It's up to you to take care of you.  Care for yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.  Kick those bad habits.  Practice your faith.  Find something you love to keep yourself active!  If you don't do it, no one else will. 

Life is too short to worry.   Why worry about the house or the car or the promotion?  Why fret over a disagreement?  All that matters is that we lived and we loved.

Faith matters.  Choose this day whom you will serve.  Practicing one's faith can be such a comfort; both for the departing and for those left behind.

You can't take it with you.  That's a tough one for our culture; to spend a lifetime accruing and then to leave it behind, that's tough!!  I believe you can take 2 things with you; your faith and your relationships, so spend time enjoying them.

The little things count.  Preparing a meal for an infirm might not seem like a big deal, but it can mean the world to someone else.  Pay a visit, make a phone call, send a card in the mail, take a plate of homemade cookies; sometimes the little things mean the most.

You can't prepare for death.  You can make the arrangements, but you can never truly be prepared to lose a loved one.   

Every day counts.  Every.  Day.  There is no time to kill.  Every waking, breathing moment is a moment that we can share. We can rejoice.  We can mourn.  We can praise.  We can fellowship.  We can explore.  We can dance.  We can sing.  We can laugh.  Enjoy everyday.  

Say what you need to say.  With love, say those things that you need to say.  Apologize.  Ask questions.  Make peace.   Make ammends.  Swallow your pride and do what needs done.  You may never have another opportunity so don't put it off. 

Above all, love one another.  That includes Crazy Uncle Eddie and that neighbor who dumps dog poo in your compost pile.  It also includes your pain-in-the-keister sister, the guy at church with bad breath and your nose-picking nephew.  It's hard sometimes and all too often, we let petty differences get in the way.  But in the end, loving one another is all that matters.

In His Service,
Andrea
       

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1 comment:

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

What a great post, Andrea. You're right. That is a subject we all will face, and we need to think about it (prep) before it happens.

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