In this journey, I’ve had some interesting reactions along the way to what I’m doing. Yes, even I will admit sometimes it seems odd how impassioned I am by the subject of death. It is not, however, nor will it ever be, death that excites me. What excites me, what lights up every bit of my heart, soul, creativity and excitement, is the idea of helping people LIVE.
Death, like birth, is a single momentary event in a person’s life, at least for most of us. However, many people spend years dying, often in agonizing ways both emotional and physical. How much of this excruciatingly long dying process could be changed if we learned to look at that as living time not dying time? The discussions that light me up with excitement are about how to help people live every moment they have, not spend years dying. I want to help people live until that singular moment of death, happy, pain free, excited for what’s to come, rather than simply dreading the inevitable.
I’ve spent years in the medical system working endlessly with amazing colleagues to stave off death. Yet, in that time I cannot tell you how many people I have watched pass by stuck in the heart-breaking phase of dying. It is the dying most of us fear more, not death itself, it is the perceived transition from living, vibrant and free to dying that awakens that dread within us. While your body may be physically failing in one manner or another for years, there is a difference between a person who is empowered and assisted to live and the one who is dying – the difference is in quality, preservation of dignity, a continued chasing of dreams, engagement in friends, family and surroundings, the cherishing of memories.
Months and years spent dying is what we all fear. This is what scares us away from the discussions on mortality and advanced stages of life. We now not only fear that solitary moment of death, when our hearts stop beating and our bodies go cold, but we fear long processes of dying – in our minds the living stops – but if your heart is still beating, you still have the capacity to be living. We focus on the negative aspects, the limiting of mobility, the increase of pain, the narrowing of choices, in that long dark journey death becomes a hugely terrifying monster, and it is no wonder no one wants to talk about it. What if we work to put that big scary monster back in its box of a singular moment and all the time that leads up to it, we spend living, not dying.
The only way to put the monster back in its box is to talk, to plan, to dream of how to live to the very last moment. Silence feeds the monster.
Do not feed the monster…..explore with me, create with me, dream with me of all the ways we can continue to live, and lets make it happen.