Reflections At The End Of Life

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  • Tue, Dec 10, 2019 - 06:41pm

    #1

    Adam Taggart

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    Reflections At The End Of Life

The sad news of the terminal illness of a longtime Peak Prosperity reader has been weighing on my mind over the past few days.

It comes not many months after an older friend of mine passed away. He knew his time was limited and chose not to fight nature’s course, opting for hospice care over hospital procedures.

I recall my last conversation with him. It was an odd but refreshing experience to talk with someone with absolutely no pretense remaining. He had no reason to waste energy on anything that wasn’t 100% truthful or meaningful to him.

He imparted some real gems of wisdom to me during that final talk, for which I’m very grateful.

Chris has delved into this territory of ‘dying well’ in his podcast interviews with griefwalker Stephen Jenkinson (you can listen here and here). I predict this will become a focus of more and more people as the baby boomer generation is forced by advancing age to confront its mortality.

In this vein, a friend who has lost a child too early shared this on her Facebook page today. Again, here are words from someone staring at their imminent death, trying to share some of life’s meaningful truths so that those they leave behind can more fully appreciate the gift of “being”:

Holly Butcher posted her advice to the world, 24 hours before she died of cancer.

This was her message…

A bit of life advice from Hol:

“It’s a strange thing to realise and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; Until the unexpected happens. I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey- most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.

That’s the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.

I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy.. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.

I haven’t started this ‘note before I die’ so that death is feared – I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to it’s inevitability.. Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a ‘taboo’ topic that will never happen to any of us.. That’s been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.

I have dropped lots of my thoughts below as I have had a lot of time to ponder life these last few months. Of course it’s the middle of the night when these random things pop in my head most!

1) Those times you are whinging about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively effect other people’s days.

2) Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that – breathe.

3) You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your arse and your belly is wobbling.

Let all that shit go.. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more.

4) I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise – Be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things … until your body doesn’t allow you to do either of them.

I tried to live a healthy life, in fact, that was probably my major passion. Appreciate your good health and functioning body- even if it isn’t your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is. Move it and nourish it with fresh food. Don’t obsess over it.

5) Remember there are more aspects to good health than the physical body.. work just as hard on finding your mental, emotional and spiritual happiness too. That way you might realise just how insignificant and unimportant having this stupidly portrayed perfect social media body really is.. While on this topic, delete any account that pops up on your news feeds that gives you any sense of feeling shit about yourself. Friend or not.. Be ruthless for your own well-being.

6) Be grateful for each day you don’t have pain and even the days where you are unwell with man flu, a sore back or a sprained ankle, accept it is shit but be thankful it isn’t life threatening and will go away.

7) Whinge less, people! .. And help each other more.

😎 Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; More than I could I ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people.

9) It is a weird thing having money to spend at the end.. when you’re dying. It’s not a time you go out and buy material things that you usually would, like a new dress. It makes you think how silly it is that we think it is worth spending so much money on new clothes and ‘things’ in our lives.

Buy your friend something kind instead of another dress, beauty product or jewellery for that next wedding. 1. No-one cares if you wear the same thing twice 2. It feels good. Take them out for a meal, or better yet, cook them a meal. Shout their coffee. Give/ buy them a plant, a massage or a candle and tell them you love them when you give it to them.

10) Value other people’s time. Don’t keep them waiting because you are shit at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too! Amen sister.

11) This year, our family agreed to do no presents and despite the tree looking rather sad and empty (I nearly cracked Christmas Eve!), it was so nice because people didn’t have the pressure of shopping and the effort went into writing a nice card for each other. Plus imagine my family trying to buy me a present knowing they would probably end up with it themselves.. strange! It might seem lame but those cards mean more to me than any impulse purchase could. Mind you, it was also easier to do in our house because we had no little kiddies there. Anyway, moral of the story- presents are not needed for a meaningful Christmas. Moving on.

12) Use your money on experiences.. Or at least don’t miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit.

13) Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water.

14) Get amongst nature.

15) Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo.. enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.

Random rhetorical question. Are those several hours you spend doing your hair and make up each day or to go out for one night really worth it? I’ve never understood this about females

🤔.

16) Get up early sometimes and listen to the birds while you watch the beautiful colours the sun makes as it rises.

17) Listen to music.. really listen. Music is therapy. Old is best.

18) Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that.

19) Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing okay?

20) Travel if it’s your desire, don’t if it’s not.

21) Work to live, don’t live to work.

Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy.

22) Eat the cake. Zero guilt.

23) Say no to things you really don’t want to do.

24) Don’t feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life.. you might want a mediocre life and that is so okay.

25) Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have.

26) Also, remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be. Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable. I know that is said all the time but it couldn’t be more true.

Anyway, that’s just this one young gals life advice. Take it or leave it, I don’t mind!

Oh and one last thing, if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save 3 lives! That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple.

Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year – a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life.

..’Til we meet again.

Hol

Xoxo”

What other advice would you add to this list?

  • Tue, Dec 10, 2019 - 08:11pm

    #2

    Mark_BC

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    Reply To: Reflections At The End Of Life

I come from a cancer family so my own demise has always been something I considered. I somewhat fear it I guess, but not obsessively. Mostly because i mostly haven’t done with my life what I had wanted to.

Several years ago I had a very rare and debilitating nerve entrapment syndrome that left me crippled for a year. No one could figure out what was wrong. It was so horrible I thought I was going to die. But I eventually figured it out using the internet and made a 100% recovery. When I was in the depths thinking I was going to die, I wasn’t regretting the human relationships that didn’t get developed or other such things. I regretted not making more of an impact towards ecological conservation and education.

I thought that experience would give me clarity and allow for a fresh start. While it did give me an appreciation for what I have, I haven’t moved towards helping with conservation, for a few reasons. The main one being the knowledge of the imminent financial catastrophe. This site first opened the financial world up to me as I never understood it but wanted to.

Financially I’m in a difficult position and stuck in my job. It’s not a bad job, most people would appreciate it, it’s just not what I feel is my life’s ambition. But it works, for now.

It somewhat bothers me that I dont have money because of all the good things I’d do with it. And the need to earn money every week interferes with me doing what I want to do to help nature.

But my life is pretty good. The other day I hiked up the local mountain and felt so healthy as I always do. I appreciated that I can do this and I have such a good body, unless there’s some tumour in it I don’t know about.

Most people can’t do that and most people in previous generations couldn’t hope to live the life I live.

At the bottom of the mountain is a powerline right of way cut through the forest. There are lots of young vigorous Douglas fir and cedar trees growing up under it. It’s sad to think they will inevitably be cut down before they reach their prime. But, they are the lucky ones. They lived far longer lives than 99.9% of the seeds released by their parents, most of which didn’t live at all from being in the shade.

  • Wed, Dec 11, 2019 - 05:18am

    #3
    macro2682

    macro2682

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    Failure of imagination… and STDs

Our inability to comprehend that we WILL die relatively soon is a precondition for good societal behavior.  It’s almost like a trait we’ve evolved as a culture (similar to our inability to comprehend exponential growth as an impossibility).

Could you imagine what life would be like if all of the sudden everyone saw a tangible expiration date?  I guess we don’t really need to imagine it.  Just look at what’s going on in senior living facilities:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/9619778/amp

I think the inability to process and comprehend death is a prerequisite for a successful modern society. The invention of “Heaven” was genius.

  • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  macro2682.
  • Wed, Dec 11, 2019 - 06:39am

    #4

    thc0655

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    Dylan Thomas, whoever he was

https://poets.org/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night

Do not go gentle into that good night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

https://genius.com/Simon-and-garfunkel-a-simple-desultory-philippic-or-how-i-was-robert-mcnamarad-into-submission-lyrics

 

  • Wed, Dec 11, 2019 - 09:15am

    #5
    Penguin Will

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    Reply To: Reflections At The End Of Life

Adam,

I have never met or exchanged posts with Michael but his post has stuck with me since I read it. I never know what to say or do when I am around a situation like that. But I am grateful for the post you put up.

Will

  • Wed, Dec 11, 2019 - 11:25am   (Reply to #5)

    #6

    Adam Taggart

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    Thanks, Will

I’m glad to hear that, Will.

Especially as I (and, I’m guessing, most folks here) am often also at a loss on what to say in such sad situations.

I’m hoping that the expressions of care & concern here from folks like you are some solace to Michael, that his life matters to us and that he’s got PP supporters in his corner from all over the world.

  • Wed, Dec 11, 2019 - 07:32pm

    #7

    Oliveoilguy

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    Looking Honestly At Death

Due to metastatic cancer I was given little hope. Once I accepted my fate it was less frightening. I remember telling my preacher (female) that I was okay with what was going on. I wanted to live, but I understood the reality. My wife was in worse shape mentally than I was, and took the news much harder.

Then began reflexion. I choose to look at my cup as 1/2 full, rather than 1/2 empty. I looked at my children and wife, and the things I had built during my career and all the positive experiences. I felt good about my accomplishments. I also decided to make the most of my last days and tried to finish projects and set things up for my wife. Things that she might not be able to do on our ranch.

For some reason God choose to keep me here longer than expected. It was totally out of my control, but I was led to alternative treatments and brilliant doctors and I always worked hard to make good healthy decisions and lived fully within my situation. I give credit and glory to God, and am thankful for every moment and every breath today.

I lead a cancer support group in my community, and know that there is some limited success with alternative therapies and have 3 friends on the Joe Tippens Protocol. Also a friend is going to Hippocrates in Florida, and a lady friend is going to Dr. Rubin at Naturopathic Specialists in Scottsdale Az. where you can get a free 15 minute phone consultation.

  • Thu, Dec 12, 2019 - 06:49am

    #8

    000

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    Not to be attached to something is to be aware of its infinite value.

Not to be attached to something is to be aware of its infinite value.” — Shunryu Suziki

  • Sun, Dec 15, 2019 - 01:22pm

    #9
    drbost

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    Presence more important than words

What should I say to someone who is grieving?  Often, nothing.  Supportive presence is frequently more helpful than words.

This is based on experience working as a psychologist with people who had just lost major life functions due to acute medical problems like head injury and stroke and as a professor teaching medical students about helping patients who are grieving.  This experience also included personal losses (a daughter’s death due to a drunk driver and a wife due to metastatic breast disease).  These experiences taught me that words–and I had heard and learned a lot of them– didn’t blunt the pain.  I also learned from these experiences that just being there in whatever way possible helped and healed.  Just the presence of someone who understood and accepted the pain supported, helped, and healed.

Michael, even though words fall short, I hope that just the presence of the words on this site is supportive.  I hope their presence conveys our concern, and that you are feeling the loving presence of your PP community.

I also hope we are all learning about supporting ourselves, our family, and our neighbors and community in times of grief.  We will need this wisdom as we deal with the many losses we face in the crises we’re encountering.  Michael, Chris, Adam, PP community, thank you for leading us into and through this journey

  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 10:26pm

    #10
    greendoc

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    Healing relationships

I participated in my brother’s very slow shuffle off this mortal coil from ALS.  Maybe the only silver lining to Lou Gehrigs, is you have some time to get your affairs in order. The things that meant most to my brother Jack was making sure some of his meaningful belongings went to people he knew would appreciate them, knowing his animals (he had no children) had good homes and most importantly, he was able to heal some very old rifts with friends and relatives.

And drbost’s offer of supportive presence is such a gift many of us are afraid or unable to give, but stretch yourself to show up for friends in a supportive way!  If you are nervous: read this excellent post about grief and what to say: https://cupofjo.com/2017/07/best-things-to-say-to-someone-in-grief/.  Spend some time listening to “Terrible, thanks for asking” podcasts: https://www.ttfa.org/.

As a culture we are uncomfortable with the five Ds: death, dying, deformities, and developmental disabilities.  Part of living means embracing these eventualities as well as the shiny, beautiful things too.  And it takes some practice.

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