The Linda Series

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As I roll on into the Christmas season my time to blog is shrinking.  The extra demands are growing exponentially and the juggling is getting hairy.

But that’s okay.  I don’t really mind.  The stress is worth it to me because I adore the holidays.  (Well, mostly.  There have been tough years.) My love of Christmas is a legacy from my childhood, the gift of parents who bent over backwards to create as much magic, wonder, and joy for my four siblings and I as they possibly could.  They loved Christmas, and therefore I learned to love it from them.

It’s funny how, every once in a while, life really is that simple.

Anyway, this is all just preamble for what I really wanted to tell you:  For the rest of December I’ll (probably) only be posting on Fridays.  At least about dying.  (During the rest of the week I reserve the right to succumb to moments of yuletide exuberance and post snippets about holiday moments.)

There.  Notice served.  Now, on to the real topic.

In a recent post, “Dying” Is Still Alive”, I talked about the mistake a lot of people make in assuming that dying and death are parallel or even, in some people’s minds, the same.  In the following comments, Linda said something that, in my opinion, really helps shed light on the reason why this mistake gets made.  Here’s most of it (the emphasis is mine):

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, ….

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?

Linda’s last question is an important one that, I suspect, is on the minds of a lot of people these days, and therefore bears exploring.  She also suggests a couple other areas of consideration that I think are equally important.  (I’ve chewed on them a lot, anyway.)   I’d like to address them all but, since it’s way too much ground to cover in one post, I thought I’d break it down into four separate questions and handle them in a series.

These are the specific questions I’d like to explore:

1)  Will accepting that I’m dying interfere with my will to live? (I may actually have to break this question down into a few sections of its own because…well…its that big.  I’d like to cover whether love of life or fear of death is a better motivation during treatment, how most of us will have to consciously choose when to die as a side effect of today’s successful medical interventions, what the real value of positive thinking is when fighting an illness, Hint: it’s not for survival as many currently think, and how it’s never really a question of whether we’re going to live or not anyway.  Of course we won’t.  The only truly meaningful question is about how best to use the time we have.)

2)  Which is scarier, dying or being dead?

3)  Is there anything about dying that might be worth living for?

And the last thing I’d like to cover isn’t  necessarily something Linda brought up, but it’s a related and vitally important point.  It involves a question of context, or how we choose to look at dying:

4)  What are some possible metaphors we can use for dying and how does each one help or hurt our ability to navigate the process?

I figured I’d start next Friday with Linda’s main question:  Will accepting that I’m dying interfere with my will to live?

copyright 2010 Dia Osborn