I’m starting to suspect a lot of people use the terms dying and death interchangeably, or link them so closely together in their minds that they can’t easily discriminate between the two. At least subconsciously. I suppose that’s to be expected, considering neither of them are things we talk about much. Let’s face it, anything unfortunate enough to tumble into the closed pit of taboo topics is destined to collect a lot of misunderstanding.
But this particular area of confusion intrigues me more than most because it’s hard to find two things more different than dying and death. Exactly how different are they? Polar opposite different. World’s apart different. Different as in “If you had a choice of which one you wanted to be at this very moment, which would you pick?” different.
Death is dead. Dying is still very, very much alive.
In fact, it may well be one of the most alive periods we get over an entire lifetime of being alive. I think this is a very, very important point to remember because, startling though it may seem, dying can be easy to miss.
(Not dead…dead is unmistakable. Dying can be easy to miss. See what your mind did there?)
With the current medical paradigm focused primarily on cure, we can spend so much time fighting not to die that we wind up going straight from being sick to being dead, thereby missing the peculiar and healing light of the world of dying that lies in between those two. We can miss both the chance to realize Oh wow…this is it. I’m dying now….as well as the gift that comes from spending the rest of our days in that final place where life first collapses, and then supernovas into Life itself.
So if there was only one piece of advice I could pass along it would be this: Don’t close your eyes. Don’t condition yourself to denial and blindness. Because, for all their power to transform and heal, the miracles at the end of life are delicate, twinkling, and brief and, if you’re not alert enough to look for them, they can be very, very easy to miss.
copyright Dia Osborn 2010
You have my attention…can’t wait to hear more about what you learned and experienced about dying. And, I think you are right…I do have fears, questions and doubts about this and don’t seem to think about it…until something like this comes along. So, I feel like sitting at your feet and asking for you to tell me/us more. And perhaps like you, some of the fear and anxiety I did not know was there…will be lifted.
That’s certainly always been the itch…to see if what I experienced and learned might not serve to ease the fear of somebody else a little, too. Still struggling to figure out how to do it though. 🙂 Thanks for sticking with me through all my ramblings and false turns, sweetheart!
Death & dying…yes, I think I’ve probably considered these two words/ideas as synonyms. Given the choice between the two this very moment I would strongly resist BOTH. To be honest, I think I’d prefer to be dead than to be dying. Like most people, I think I fear the process far more than the fact. I subscribe to the notion that the best way to dye would be blindingly fast like a stroke or heart attack during the night from which I never woke. (My ex-husband went this way, and while the abruptness makes the loss very difficult for those left behind, we all agreed that he was the lucky one because he never saw it coming.)
But I see your point about the tendency to go from fighting death to dead without having had the opportunity to embrace the process, thereby, leaving with unfinished business: sentiments not shared, history not shared, apologies unsaid, ….
I think I observed this very phenomenon just last summer when a dear friend died after a two year battle with cancer. He’d put every ounce of his strength into the fight and into denial of the inevitable. I don’t think he admitted to himself that he was leaving until it was too late to have those last minute flings that we would like to have or to say the last minute things that we need to say.
But where, I wonder, do we draw the line between fighting illness and accepting impending death? Certainly the will to live is what propels many people through God-awful illnesses and injuries. Sometimes they come out at the other end in-tact, or nearly in-tact. I’m curious how you feel about this aspect of dying. Is it possible to embrace dying to soon, too forfeit the opportunity to rise above it and live longer?
Dia, as always, I marvel at your ability to write in a lovely, conversational style without falling into the trap of cutesy words and phrases . Your style of writing disarms the reader, beckoning into topics that we might normal shy away from, which is just what you need to do with this big, scary topic of yours. Nice image at the top, too. Is that your own? Mighty impressive.
How’d the crown procedure go?
Whoa. This a lot. Wow. You’ve posed some pretty important questions here and put into words (eloquently) a few of the fears and paradoxes we’re all struggling to navigate in this brave, new world of miraculous medical intervention.
I think, if you don’t mind, I’m going to try and take these questions and ideas one at a time. Deal with them over a series of posts because really…nothing you brought up is simple enough to address in a sound bite.
Except the photo! Yes, it’s mine. I took it with my camera phone up in the foothills where I walk Dane every night. Sunsets can get pretty damn spectacular during fire season, I must say. (Yay particulate matter. 🙂
Thanks for such an insightful comment. Really. Wow.
P.S. The dental work went a lot easier than I feared! I’m still sore and it’s compromising my popcorn pleasures but overall I was quite pleased. Humph…yes. Quite pleased.
I agree with you
there is a saying
“you are a long time dead”
The Inference is to live your life to the full when alive…..
I HATE the fact that people associate dying with death……….dying is the end of living thats all
It’s curious isn’t it? That association? Maybe it explains why people tend to avoid those who are dying like the plague. Literally…like they’re contagious. So strange and harmful really, this societal view of dying we’ve developed. I’d sure love to see it evolve a little. Thanks John!
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