After decades of dealing with death and end of life care, I have this one belief:
We each will die the same way we choose to live.
What does that mean?
Do you meet problems and challenges in your personal life head on, with honesty, taking the problem apart, figuring out all possible options, confronting other people with your views/issues/emotions, getting input and advice, making a plan, moving yourself, or yourself with others, forward to resolve personal problems and achieve your goals? Or do you keep your head down, avoid conflict, just let problems roll over you, and weigh and wear you down over your lifetime?
If you are a proactive person in your personal life, if you meet emotional challenges and problems you encounter head on, whether its with your own behavior or with the behavior of others, then you will likely face your death with the same high degree of emotional honesty and integrity and, perhaps, even with grace.
On the other hand, if you run away from conflict, if you keep your head down and ignore the painful and difficult issues in your personal life, if you suffer along in relationship situations that others would find intolerable, then it’s not so likely that you will face your death with a high degree or even moderate degree of emotional honesty, personal integrity or grace.
Most of us, because we are human beings, are neither uniformly proactive nor are we always hiding our heads in the sand, hoping our personal problems go away. Please hear me – most of us live, and die, somewhere in between.
When it comes to death, though, you can learn about the process of death, you can have good and healthy discussions with loved ones, and with trusted advisors (spiritual, financial, legal, funereal), and you can have an honest death, faced with grace and minimal physical suffering, if you choose to do so.
I believe that anyone who chooses to, can become honest with themselves and others about what they want to have happen when they are dying and after they die. But this has to be an active choice on your part, it is not something that happens by default. And, believe me, none of this is intuitive – we do not just “know” what to do when it comes to the dying process, whether it is our own or when we are involved with the passing of someone we love.
Maybe reading this blog is the first step for you on that path of choosing to face death with grace and honesty by learning about the process of death and planning for your own, or preparing for the passing of a loved one. If that is the case, then please know that I am honored that you are reading this blog and I will work hard to make sure that this blog is constantly refreshed with topics that may help you.