I have been struggling lately with Mom’s decline. She is 82 and has dementia. She doesn’t remember well. She still remembers me and my brothers (that’s me in her lap). My younger brother, Ben, was not born when this picture was taken. When we arrive, her face lights up. As much as I struggle with her decline and eventual death, I know that there are things worse than dying. My dog, Ginger, knew that. With her fearless nature, she marched into her death with a quiet strength that I can only hope to exhibit when my time comes.
A few years ago, I witnessed Dad’s decline and death. He had COPD and was on oxygen at the end. As his body shut down, I watched his frustration and anger as his body did not respond the way he wanted. At the very end, after a hard-fought battle, he was ready to go, just like Ginger. He did not fear death. I think he was more fearful of life as it was with these tough limitations. And he left us within a few hours once he decided that it was his time to for him to leave.
There are things worse than death. Not living your life to the fullest, unnecessary suffering, regrets, dwelling on the past and what might have been, and unfulfilled wishes all come to mind. Mom is fairly happy and healthy, and her life, although downsized and smaller, is a good one. And there are joyful moments when she sings gospel songs at the church service at her memory care unit. In those moments, she is just as she was 20 years ago, singing those songs without a song book (all of the verses) and singing harmony.
Those small, joyful moments let me and my brothers know that it is not her time to go. There is still joy in her life. And when it is her time, she will know and we will know. And we will make it as beautiful as death can be. We will help her transition to the next part of her life just like we did with Ginger. It doesn’t have to be feared and it doesn’t have to be a horrible thing. Mom will leave this earth surrounded by her boys and her family and there will be love and joy.
So try not to worry about so much death. There are worse things than dying. Don’t live your life with regret. Don’t put up with things that you can change. Make the effort now to change them. And when it is your time, I wish you peace and joy as you walk through that final door.