I know I’ve talked about death a bit lately as it’s just passed the 3 year anniversary of my dad’s death, but it seems to be something I have to deal with more and more as I’m getting older – and so is everyone else.
Up until my father’s death, I was blissfully unaffected by death. Yeah, there were a few – like my gramma on my dad’s side. She died a few days before her 100th birthday – so instead of attending a birthday party, people attended a funeral. It had been about 15 years from the last time I saw her when she died, but none-the-less, she was family and it hurt. My grandpa on my mom’s side died when I was 15 or 16. I had seen my grandparents a month or so prior as we had a huge party celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. It’s like he was waiting to give that one thing to my nana – and at the party, you’d never know he had dementia and Alzheimer’s. Since then, over 20 years have gone by with maybe 2 deaths – both on my husband’s side. However, starting in 2016, it seems like death is a part of every year that goes by. My father-in-law lost both his parents in 2016, I lost my dad, and in Feb 2017 my nana on my mom’s side passed away.
My mom had a rough 12 months!
Death is the one part of life everyone can expect to happen, and yet we’re never prepared for when it does. When I was told that the cancer was in my dad’s brain, I knew it was a matter of time. I had 4 months to prepared for it, but I was devastated when it happened. The worst part of death is the uncertainty. It doesn’t happen suddenly at a specific age – death is unscrupulous when it comes and is indiscriminate to age.
Back at the beginning of June, my co-worker lost her husband. Both her and her husband had their separate unit BBQ’s. They got home early, did some yard work, and were relaxing before going out to watch the Raptors game. As they were sitting on the couch, he had a massive heart attack and he passed away. When I found out on the Monday morning, I was devastated for her. She has the sweetest soul, is kind and caring. I’ve probably spent the most time with her (other than my direct coworkers) as we’ve run errands together and she was frequently my co-pilot. I would frequently ask for her to go with me as I simply enjoy her company. She’s quiet and calm – the only time I’ve seen her phased when we got pulled over by the cops – she happened to be driving. And even then, she was still calm and collected which probably helped with us getting off with a warning. (shhh… we didn’t even tell work about that!). He passed away on 7 June – and she’s been away from work for 2 ½ weeks. She’s on reduced hours as she’s still quite upset – completely understandable. I visited with her a bit and gave her a couple big hugs. Everyone at work was thinking of her – whether or not they said anything, I don’t know, but I told her. She’s here with no family – but that’s the nice thing about the military. WE’RE her family! They were both military and I know her husband’s unit is also supporting her with everything. I’ve told her countless times to let me know if she needs anything
The fact is, none of us know how we’re going to react when someone passes away.
When my husband’s grandmother passed away, I was devastated. She lived in a suite below us and she was very challenging to deal with. Her own family would get impatient with her at family gatherings – she always meant well, but there was no filter and she would often say things that came across as cruel. That particular morning – it was a beautiful Saturday in early July and I had gone to the local farmer’s market. There were some pretty cut flowers I saw on my way in, but decided to wait until I was on my way out to pick them up. I forgot – and instead of going back (I was just at the car) I told myself the following weekend I’ll buy some. When I got home, there was an ambulance in the driveway. I was upset because I was going to do something nice for her, just because. Even though I would never have been able to give her the flowers, it was the thought.
When my nana passed away, yes, I shed tears, but she was also well into her 90’s. She passed peacefully with no illness like cancer or pneumonia… she just stopped. She lived an amazingly long life and was the kindest woman. I have so many fond memories from the farm that I will cherish. And even though her celebration of life was sad, it was so nice to get the family together – all of my aunts and uncles which I don’t think had been done since their 50th wedding anniversary, probably a quarter century before! The sad thing is, that’s probably the last time we’ll have all the aunts and uncles together. All of my uncles are at various states of decline – one has Parkinson’s and the other two have dementia. It will be only a matter of time before I start getting the phone calls.
Death is hard. Actually, it outright sucks!
However, you can take it as motivation… if you don’t know when death is coming for you, you’d better live life to the fullest!!! Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but you’re scared you might fail? Instead of “what if I fail?” turn it into “what if I succeed?”
“Everyone dies, but not everyone lives”
I can’t remember who said this, but it’s true! What if you died tomorrow? What would they say about you? “he had lots of great ideas, but he never followed through on anything”, or “he always wanted to go to ______ but he was afraid to travel alone”. Life is short! Try things that scare you! Even if you don’t succeed, at least you had the nerve to try! Figure out what you want to do, then make a plan to do it! Have ideas? Follow through! Want to do something? Figure out how to get it done! Want to get over a fear? Challenge yourself!
Your life is your responsibility – it’s not your circumstances. It’s not your past. You decide where you go from today. In this moment, you can decide to change the course of your life to create a better future.