When the needle glides under your skin and I look into your eyes knowing the light will go out as you sigh with relief. It is an honor to be with my animals when death comes. This is the final respect I am able to pay to the bond we forged. I want to be the last thing they see; for my love to ease their passing.
It is not the same with humans. I chose to volunteer for hospice for very selfish reasons. I don’t want to fear death, perhaps the more time I spend with the dying, the better I will deal when my time comes. Society doesn’t grant humans the same peaceful release we do our pets. We have our rituals and legal issues. We strive to control and manipulate death to ease our own suffering at the inevitable loss.
There are many types of deaths, each with its lesson for those left. Shockingly violent and sudden deaths throw us into a state of desperately reaching back for the last minute before life ended. People reflect on the last words, the last time they saw the dead, the last touch or kiss or smile. Hospice and palliative care deaths are a slow changing of how the world will be, when that person is gone. One would think there is time to adjust and accept the ultimate passing. Often there is the guilty feeling of “how much longer can this go on” to be dealt with; when even the person who is dying seems out of patience and stamina to face the ordeal. The slow shutting down of the body and mind is difficult to witness. Its lesson is the need to be very much in the moment, to accept what is happening now, with the knowledge it will not ever be again.
We say it is natural to fear death, but that is not necessarily true of every society. I have only this culture within me. To overcome or at least come to terms with death means getting to know it and striving to see it as a necessary part of life.
At the last minute, there should be love.