Some Perspective On Death Please
Is it just me? Am I alone in having a different perspective on what’s happening in the world today?
Death is not a new concept people! It has been happening for years, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years, depending on what you believe.
Death happens every minute, of every day, of every week. In some places I imagine there are people who don’t even track the time and count, there is just so much of it. It’s just another day with some more death.
For those who went to war, death becomes a way of life, a part of your new normal. You see it in the most horrific ways and can’t help being aware that you may also experience it at any moment. And then if you serve and are lucky (or unlucky) enough to return home, you bring with you all the death related ‘stuff’ with you. The injuries and scars, emotional, mental and physical. Death becomes a part of your household and a part of your family.
Our palliative care nurses and doctors see death every day. Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from diabetes and diabetic related illnesses and complications. Reports show that it runs into the millions if you look at deaths each year from obesity and obesity related ailments and don’t even get me started on the unnecessary numbers of suicides and gun related deaths. It's sickening.
Death is a fact of life whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. It is going to happen to every single one of us, everyone we know and everyone we don’t know, everyone we love and those we are just acquainted with. Death is inevitable whether we discuss it out loud or not.
If we are going to prepare ourselves for what is guaranteed to happen at some point in our life, then we better start having a conversation NOW, particularly with our kids and young adults.
What intrigues me at the moment is that whilst death is a reality, the current pandemic is being put more in our faces than any other death related cause seems to have been.
Is it because Covid-19 has been indiscriminate? Affecting the lives of everyone, previously healthy or sick? Is it because it has affected or 'inconvenienced' every class, race and culture? The rich, and the poor? The white and the black? Tell me this is not about money. Or perhaps it's because it has invaded the lives of individuals and families, singles and couples, in virtually every village and country across the globe.
It seems that despite death not being a new thing, the world has gone crazy and everyone is waking up and talking about ‘Coronavirus’.
We watch the news, well some of us do, and we see governments and political leaders coming out to take take action, putting in place restrictions and precautions. Depending on where you live and what you watch determines what you see, let's not kid ourselves here!
Regardless, there is an update every few hours every day on the ‘latest breaking news’ on this pandemic.
Why has it taken Covid-19 to finally bring the topic of death to the table? Or has it?
Why is it that while some of our political leaders are appearing to take charge of a seemingly out of control situation, our spiritual leaders are encouraging us to take a moment, to breath and to look within? To remember to be grateful and compassionate.
Some well-meaning humans are perpetuating the already panicked world and others are coming up with solutions for calm, self-responsibility and peace, ... oh and togetherness (oneness). Different approaches with different outcomes for exactly the same problem. The feelings we choose as we move through this time will be based on who we are, and will be regardless of the death toll.
For those of us that have lost someone close to us, I suspect we are looking at this ‘crisis’ with different eyes. I met a man recently, an ex-army person and the father of 6 children. He told me a little of his time in Afghanistan and said he got out to look after his terminally ill 13-year-old son.
As we walked along, with his two dogs and his 17 year old, they spoke of how they have been living with death for as long as they can remember, first with the army life and now with their terminally ill child and sibling. Whilst they sympathised with the world, Covid-19 meant nothing to them. Death was nothing new!
I was quietly relieved in that moment to hear that someone else was feeling the same way I was. After our walk they would go home to Johnnie, who that day was semi-conscious and had little time left. Their son and brother was a much higher priority than the Coronavirus.
In September 2017 I lost my only son in an avoidable gym incident. I was faced head on with death as I heard the words ‘there’s been a serious accident, they’re working on him at the moment’. I spent the next 4 days filling up his room with positivity, good energy, and filling him up with as much love as I possibly could. I encouraged those who also loved him to come in and share their energy and love as well. At the time, and still today, I believe there was no other choice for me to make. I have no regrets.
I remember looking out the window in the ICU on one of those days, watching the people walking on the streets below. They were all chatting, laughing, texting, buying coffee, all as I lived in the bubble of my son’s hospital room. At times my brain couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. Is this what near death felt like?
Life outside had continued, even though my world had stopped spinning and I felt like I was suspended in mid-air, being paused in the middle of a scene in a movie.
When all was said and done, even before, the rest of the world had gone on as normal. The world had kept turning, people were going about their business, doing what they do. Their lives continued regardless of the death happening just a few storeys above them.
You don’t ever recover from something like this. ‘They’, whoever they are, tell you it gets better but I'm here to tell you, it doesn’t! It just gets different. There may be more controlled (read private) times of sadness, but for us parents who have lost a child, the pain and the inevitable face of death, that we can now never un-see, stays with us FOREVER.
I am only two and a half years into my journey without Ben, but I have spoken to enough parents who have lost children and they all say the same thing. You never get over it, somehow you just learn to live with it.
So, let me ask you this. When are we going to include ‘death skills’ in our school curriculum? When are we going to run workshops on discussing and educating people on death?
When are we going to have the topic of death as comfortable and easy as the topic of Covid-19 is today? I have already started working on some of these.
Many people will be saved from this pandemic but NONE of us will survive death when our time comes.
So, my perspective on what is going on in the world today and the whole ‘death’ topic is different to most but I believe we NEED to get some new perspective!
Please don’t presume me to be naive, nonchalant, or dispassionate. My heart breaks and wholly goes out to any family who has lost someone close to them, as a result of Covid-19 or otherwise. I know first-hand the pain and heartache you are going through.
But forgive me as well if I don’t glue my eyeballs to the ‘news’, race out and buy 375 rolls of toilet paper and 30 packets of pasta, or neglect to punch someone in the face for getting in between me and the last bottle of hand sanitiser - Death is not new to me!
Dalya xx 💙