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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.

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17 comments on “At the last minute…

  1. mpolatchek says:

    At my age (75) the issues you bring are often a part of my consciousness. I don’t fear death so much as the slow loss of life. Not to be morbid and I believe a have years left, still I have had to restrict myself in many ways. I don’t want to lose who I am and spend years waiting for the end. So I write furiously. I still practice my trumpet as hard as I can, even with little opportunity to perform. I fear losing those things so my only hope is to put more energy into them. It is my hope to go doing the things I love…

    1. Very well said, mpolatchek. Thank you for offering a comment. I agree, one must be more careful as we age but channel energy into what we love and do best. Write on my friend!

  2. Touring NH says:

    I do not fear death. I do, however, greatly fear dying slowly. I have never understood how we can be so compassionate towards animals, ending their life humanely when the time comes, but we allow those closest to us to suffer. I see no reason a person, with the mind intact, should not be able to choose death over a life of pain. Wanting to live and having to live are two very different things!

    1. Excellent point, Laura. I’m with you. I believe when the time comes I would like to be able to choose, not linger.

  3. There are great feelings of peace that come over you when you no longer fear death.

    1. This is so true for me. I hope others can find this peace as well. Thank you!

  4. badfish says:

    For most of my life, I have not feared death. It is my sister’s biggest fear. Now, I’m wondering when the time comes…what then. Maybe fear? I hope not. I hope there is something on the other side of death. If there is, it has to be better than here, doesn’t it?

    1. Whether there is another adventure awaiting, badfish, I plan on using up everything that this one has to offer!

  5. Death seems to be such a taboo subject.. Being God fearing, I have faith that death on this earth is not the last for me. Thanks for sharing.

    If you would please spare some time and take a look at my most recent post titled “first of all….”, that would be fantastic. Any sharing and/or comments are encouraged.

    The post touches on how sometimes we make the mistake in getting into arguments with others, not knowing all the facts of the situation, in a comical way…

    I really hope you enjoy it, and are blessed to share.

    God Bless,
    Makhala

    1. Hi Makhala, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I will stop over and check out your posts. Agreed, we don’t know how to talk about death and dying in this society. I don’t know if there is anything after this but strive to make the here and now the best I can!

      1. Very well put. And thank you

  6. pamskipow says:

    Hi Martha
    I just want to tell you that I am very pleased to have found your blog! I am BRAND NEW to the blogging world (it started as a project for grad school 2 weeks ago!!). I happened to come across your site and felt really drawn to it. When I followed a link to your page, I saw your tagline “Daily musings on life after 50 & recreating oneself” and I thought, wow, is that something I wrote? Now I feel truly connected to you as this sums up this time in my life as well! Being a super busy single mother, aspiring professional (in a completely new profession I might add), and grad student, I hope to have time to read more of your musings. Love what I have read so far! Stay beautiful and thanks for sharing with another 50 year old woman who is also in the process of recreating herself… 🙂

    1. Welcome Pamski! I am now over 60 but the theme is the same – recreate, reinvent and keep learning. I hope you find some inspiration here and would love to hear about your own journey! Thank you!!

  7. Marie Keates says:

    I think I fear leaving things undone more than dying. I remember when I worked for a short time at an estate agents going to catalogue a house where an elderly lady had died. Beside her bed was a book with a book mark about half way through. It seemed so sad to think she would never know the end of the story. When I go I’d like to leave no page unturned.

    1. So well said Marie! Literally leave no page unturned. Having seen what gets “left undone” I hope I leave everything in order for my kids or whoever has to deal with my life when it is over. Thank you!!

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