I look around and see the many different ways people deal with the topic of dying and it never ceases to amaze me how many emotions it evokes. From fear to resignation and everything in between.
Fear of death can also cause some strange behaviors and disguise itself as fear of aging. I know so many woman who put their bodies through so much so they can perpetuate this illusion that they are younger and therefore still desirable and no closer to dying than their young counterparts. They crave the attention and accolades that being young evokes. I am amazed by woman who undergo surgery to their breasts, face, stomach, thighs and … Well you name it, all in the hope of defying age. Many of the results are far from flattering. And the numbers are growing! Some people see it as a rush to the finish line to fit in every possible experience and achievement and trinket before punching out.
Before I got sick I was like many other people, afraid of death and I feared that day completely. In fact I feared the death and loss of everyone and everything I loved. I would collapse in on myself with the pain and grief and become paralyzed with sadness. That was before I got sick. All that has changed considerably.
In the past 10 years I have imagined death, begged for death, questioned death, examined death and prepared for death. I have a far better appreciation for death and what it means to me and my place in life. I can discuss death as I would the weather. I do not consider myself morbid or obsessed, I believe that once you have lost someone you love or been touched the realities of death, you can develop a healthy appreciation for it. I think I have such an appreciation.
Eastern cultures have a far healthier relationship with death and aging and hold it in such higher regard and with respect. I personally like this way of thinking and I imagine how differently we could exist if we adopted some of this thinking. My understanding is that Tibetan monks even have a dying “coach” just as us westerners have a birthing coach and life coaches. A dying coach is there at the end to be there and allow the dying to reach a peace and share their experience with a kind, respectful and supportive person by their side. Beautiful. What a fitting tribute to a life lived.
Although I don’t spend my days waiting for my end or planning my death, I don’t fear it like I used to. I don’t see aging or dying as anything other than natural stages of life and ones to be experienced and grateful for. All life matters to me now. Each has a wonder and a value of its own. Trying to delay or camouflage life in plastic and paint does not change it’s path or ultimate destination.
I hope that what I have gained is an appreciation and a respect for life. The ability to age with grace and when my time is up, I hope I will know the peace of a life lived with dignity.