I THINK ABOUT DEATH.
I think about Death, a lot. I even start its name with a capital letter.
It’s not surprising. I worked as a hospice nurse for 12 years.
And I left to do this…
I want to provide a venue for people to best prepare for the final chapter of life, and eventual death.
Throughout my life I knew things died. My parakeet, the guppies, my grandparents, even the boy down the block. The elementary school that I attended was named for the safety patrol boy who died saving the lives of a group of children. I knew about death as a child.
And the ultimate, I was told that I almost died as a baby.
Talking about death is a difficult subject. I know how to stop a lively conversation by asking the question, “What do you believe about death?” I know one feisty 95 year old woman who would answer me “W_T_F_ would I want to talk about that for?”
Adult children would shy from approaching the subject with their elderly parents because they don’t want to scare them!
Well, talking about Death won’t make it happen. In fact, studies have shown that talking about mortality brings a vital preciousness in the days of our lives and may relieve the anxiety of the unknown. The unspoken can be said between loved ones and those estranged. Decisions can be made before a crisis happens.
As a nurse I saw people suffering at the end of their life. And I asked the question, “Why?”
Suffering can be physical, it can be emotional, and it can be spiritual.
I recognized the spiritual or existential angst. This suffering was the most difficult to witness.
And I asked the question, “Why?”
Quality of life is an important question for me.
What if I could not sleep?
What if I had difficulty breathing?
What if I laid awake at night thinking of things I no longer had control over, like the past.
The latter is the worst. And I ask,
Is there anything I can do ahead of time so I do not suffer at the end of my life? And so my loved ones do not have to watch me suffer.
I began exploring inward. Thinking about what I have to do so that at the end of my life I can go peacefully. I will give myself no points in going out kicking and screaming.
I learned how my life went from one transition to another.
To approach this final chapter with curiosity. I set my sights to go through the doorway of new possibilities.
Welcome and embrace each change as an opportunity to appreciate life in a new way. Slowing down to smell the roses, to watch my grandchildren play, to sit quietly with a friend. I can find my answers, sometimes so very hidden.
And learn to hold life as a mystery.
I am learning that my fears can be transformed.
That sometimes I’m looking for that magic bullet to give me peace inside.
What I have learned is that it is all within ME and my relationships when I listen and heard deeply.
I must surrender, to open the door, trust, and choose life.
The world is full of possibilities.
I just have to walk through and be present and love, over and over again.
… do the work, when life may call me to work. And love.
© Sharon Ziff