Updated: Apr 15, 2019
I've been on some India Arie ish this week and I must say it's so soothing, considering the topic I'm about to touch on can bring about emotions and feelings that make some people uneasy. Don't worry, I'll keep this post short!
There are a few things we're told we have no control over:
1. Who our birth parents are
Notice how I put death at the end? It's the last part of the aging process; the final stage of life and many people dread seeing the end. For the longest I've felt that maybe death is one of the reasons some people are fearful of aging. Fear that the older one gets, the closer he or she is to death. However, when we really think about it, I'm sure we can see right through this myth! Many of us have lived long enough to know by now that death is not a respecter of person and comes at any age. Death is inevitable, but some people really try to avoid it at all costs and truly convince themselves that steering clear from the subject means they are escaping it...nah.
Death, it takes my breath away when it's unexpected AND when I have been forewarned. Death, it can break families apart, or mend broken relationships. Death, it can motivate people to start living life to its fullest or give up. Death can at times give a sense of relief and in other moments bring on feelings of guilt. Death has its pros and cons and I know that sounds funny, but for real though, it's all in how we look at it. At times it's not an easy pill to swallow and can be more painful than a tooth ache (believe me, a tooth ache will have you thinking dangerous thoughts....it gets real), but it's a topic that should be discussed regularly. Why? Well, because talking about death allows us to prepare to the best of our ability and makes us more comfortable. Preparation is and will always be key!
In undergrad, (shout out to WSSU) I took a Dying, Death and Bereavement course that changed my views towards death. One of the main things that has stuck with me is how we use the word death. Have you ever noticed when someone dies you replace the word "died" with passed away, passed on, gon' up to glory, or no longer here? What about when a person is in the process of dying, have you ever found yourself saying "transitioning" instead? Nothing is wrong with that, but these are examples of how we've conditioned our minds to talk about death because for whatever reason the word itself is "too harsh", or brings about a reality that we are not willing to accept. I legit just said the other day "she's transitioning" and was like "wow, saying 'she's dying' would've had a more negative impact on me," but why? It's the truth! Oooh, I get it...WE CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!
Truth hurts. Do you think we use these words because somewhere deep down we are masking a truth? Hmm...something to think about.
What's Your Point Christina?
By now you're probably like "girl, what are you getting at here...this post is just getting darker and darker." Well, a couple of days ago on Instagram I asked three questions:
1. Are you comfortable talking about death?
2. Do you fear death?
3. If so, what is it that you fear most about death?
I noticed the responses to the third question highlighted the very feeling I once had towards death; fear of losing a loved one and the well-being of my family when I am no longer here. Other responses highlighted fears of dying and never being able to complete goals that have been set. Talking about death pushes us to be sure we do meet our goals and check things off of our bucket list. Have you ever noticed that when someone dies, the first thing people say is "life is short" or "time waits for no one?" Those types of statements make me shift into a gear I forget I have at times and get on my grind because I'm reminded that I've got work to do, life is short, and time waits for no one. Then there's always the curiosity of how we will die. Will there be pain, suffering, or some type of tragedy. Out of all of these things, the one we have most control over is the well-being of our loved ones. Planning can ease our minds of this fear. Not to say, my family won't be hella sad when I'm gone, but having things in place will make the journey to healing a lot less painful.
These answers made me think about why it's important to plan for death just like we do for a wedding, a baby shower, or a summer vacation. Some people avoid end-of-life planning because of their dislike for being challenged to think about death. Planning for death makes you go beyond your personal death or a loved one actually dying. It gets real when you sit down and think about funeral arrangements, financial planning, and advance care directives, along with other things that come about. I just want to bring awareness to a topic we spend little time discussing, but one that we will all face at some point.
I have grown to believe that waiting until the last minute does nothing but bring about stress and regrets. I cannot count on my two hands and feet how many times I have kicked myself for waiting until the veeeeeery last day to complete an assignment or study for an exam (don't judge me...I learned my lesson). So, Lord knows the way I felt during my college days, I most definitely don't want those feelings when dealing with end-of-life care, which can be time consuming and requires a lot of thought. Healthcare Decisions Day is on April 16th and I will be talking about the importance of Advance Care Directives, Living Wills and other information that I feel we should all have knowledge of. Let's work together and bring awareness to death and have those uncomfortable conversations with our loved ones.
As painful as death can be, know that all things will work together.
That's all I have for you right now!
"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." - Mark Twain
Facebook Page: Gero-what