Powerful Stories of Courage and Hope
December 18, 2012
When my sweet young son McKenzie died, I took a trip and on that trip I read the following quote in St Paul’s Cathedral. That moment was the first time a tiny ray of light pierced my heart that was lost in deep darkness. May these words give Peace to all who are grieving today over the deaths of their loved ones:
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
– Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral
December 14, 2011
This might seem like a grim topic for around The Holidays, but truth be told, many people are suffering right now and trying really hard not to show it. I think one of the reasons that the Christmas Holidays are always tough for me is that my mother died on December 23, 1992. When I spoke with my mother in the hospital a few hours before she died, before she slipped away into a morphine haze to help manage her terrible bone cancer pain, my Mom was quite lucid for an intense, short period.
She asked me for forgiveness and told me how sorry she was for some of the things she had done to me and not done for me over the years. She wanted to be sure that I knew how important I had been to her. She also said one of her greatest regrets was that her grandchildren would never really know her. My two children were 3 years old and nine months old at the time. I reassured her that her grandchildren, my children, would know her through me and the stories I would tell them about her. Over and over, sprinkled though our conversation, my mother told me that she loved me. “I love you Mary Anne” seemed the most important thing of all that she wanted to communicate to me in those final moments we had together.
Today, a friend sent me this article below and I thought it captured perfectly my experience speaking with my mother right before she died. If any of you, my readers, are struggling with a dying family member right now, especially during the holidays, I hope this blog and article will be of support and comfort to you. I wish I had it those many years ago. I hope to live my life differently now that I have read it. Thank you very much T Kelly.
Top Five Regrets of The Dying
This was published on December 1, 2011 By T Kelly and here is the direct link to article: Source: http://www.activistpost.com/2011/11/top-5-regrets-of-dying.html
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late.
Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.