Are you afraid to die? I’m not. I have heard many stories about what happens when you die, and apparently it is a very beautiful experience.
The week before my mother passed away, she started seeing people in the room. She had been battling lung cancer for six months, and her death was imminent.
In the hospital, I watched as she looked up toward the ceiling. There, she claimed to see her first husband, her oldest son, her best friend, and of course many of her deceased brothers and sisters.
The look on her face was so joyful. It was as if she had walked in on her own surprise birthday party. I know she was soothed by their presence, even though her eyes were murky and she could barely speak.
As she continued to wither away over the next few days, she whispered to me. “What’s taking so long?“ Perhaps she was eager to move on with this process so she could join her loved ones. I tried to reassure her that in the next few days she would be off to a better place, leaving her broken body behind. She seemed appeased. Since then, she’s come to “visit” me in a number of ways, which leads me to believe that she’s in a better place. But I think most of us fear the end that is inevitable for all of us. I’m not afraid of actually dying, but I’m scared about lingering in poor health and becoming a burden to my family, friends and loved ones.
Right now, we are helping to care for my partner’s mother who is 92 and lives with us. She suffered a stroke eight years ago, and rarely engages with anyone anymore. It’s very tough to see her once vibrant body in a catatonic state where her few joys in life revolve around food, sleep and television. Who wants to live like that? I don’t.
I hope that I have the right to pick a date and have someone to push the button so that I don’t have to extend an unhealthy life. How about a little karaoke or improv when that day comes? I’d like that.
I know that’s possible in some places, but I feel it should be an option for all of us, regardless of where we live. We give our pets the dignity of dying. Why shouldn’t that be an option for us as well?
We are trained from a young age to try and live as long as we can, but sometimes these final years are spent in hospitals, wheelchairs, hooked up to machines, or receiving a myriad of medications.
I saw this firsthand when I performed at assisted living facilities in Los Angeles. Many people in these facilities spend their final years feeling isolated, often neglected by their loved ones as they continued to deteriorate.
Often their assets are depleted because the drug companies, hospitals and affiliated industries make a tidy sum in keeping people alive. It’s a huge business.
I hope if I’m in poor health, that I can say adios with dignity, and be spared the ravages of age. Why should’t we be treated as well as our pets who are ushered the rainbow bridge when it is time for them to go?
But until that day though I am trying to fulfill all of my dreams. I’ve done a fair amount of traveling, I’ve made strides with my writing. I have performed as a jazz vocalist, and I have played just about every sport imaginable. And I also help facilitate a few improv classes where we make fun of our many challenges for several hours a week.
After all, isn’t that what we all wish for as we face the end of our lives…contentment, fulfillment and joy? I welcome your thoughts.