June 10, 2014

The Last Good Bye

 I'M NOT AFRAID OF DEATH. I JUST DON'T WANT TO BE AROUND WHEN IT HAPPENS. - WOODY ALLEN

EVERYBODY WANTS TO GO TO HEAVEN, BUT NOBODY WANTS TO DIE TO GET THERE. -UNKNOWN

I've been called "grim" more than once by my husband over the course of our marriage. Mainly, it's because I talk openly about death, and particularly because I'm comfortable talking about my own. I'm not quite sure how coming to terms with death as an eventuality instead of a possibility makes me grim, but if it does, then I'm definitely grim

I wasn't always so comfortable with this topic and there was a time when just the thought of death nearly scared me to it! 

I believe that at the root of the fear of death is that it can't be known by any way other than doing it. Very few of us get to stick our toe in and try it out first and we can't peek behind the curtain and know for absolute certain what comes next. We need to come to terms with our beliefs before that time and either live by faith that life continues past death or come to accept the alternative - when it's over, it's over. I've chosen to live in faith that it continues and by so doing, have put that argument to rest for myself. (If I'm wrong, at least I'll never have to admit it and there will be no one waiting on the other side with an "I told you so.")

Since I have no control over the how or when I leave this world, I want to make sure that I at least have some say in my memorial service -  so I decided to plan it myself. I've decided on the songs, and have even ordered the sheet music. I've written out my last wishes and even what I would like read to those who attend. 

As I see it, it's less about being a control freak - well beyond the bitter end and more about not wanting to leave people wondering about how I felt about them and what I would have wanted.

I attended a funeral service recently, at which one of the relatives was so consumed by guilt that he spent the entire farewell berating himself for what he "should" have and didn't do. I know for a fact that his loved one would never have wanted him to feel like that. Is it "grim" to want to make sure the people I care about hear those words directly from me instead of a well meaning friend they won't believe anyway? I don't believe so.

Whatever your beliefs are about what happens after this life or about having a voice at your farewell, I hope you'll still choose to find a way to let those you love know that you love them. Tell them what they have meant to you and how they have influenced your life. Don't add wondering to their suffering. 

I believe there is much we can do ahead of time to comfort those we will eventually leave behind. You don't need to leave parting words as I've chosen to do. Find a way that's meaningful to you - just do it while you still can.


2 comments:

  1. Wonderful message, Anita. All too often, we push the things (in other words, people) that are the most meaningful to us aside because we always have more important business to attend to. I'm, of course, being sarcastic. What can be more important? Certainly we can learn a thing or two from the person beset with guilt that you talked about. Don't let that happen. Say what you feel as you feel it, and you won't be counting regrets.

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  2. I have everything taken care of already, too, my sister in spirit! and everyone thought I was so weird. haha, nice to know I'm not alone in my weirdness.

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