Question. How do we actually deal with the end of life?
18 August last year, I received a call from my mother that my grandmother, her mother might not have much time left. I canceled all my appointments and rushed down to the nursing home. They say that we not only lose weight, but we shrink as we approach the end of one’s life.
By this time, my grandmother who has been bedridden due to multiple illnesses for the past few years seemed to have indeed shrunk in size and her skin, now a pale colour. Her current state was a stark difference from the healthy and plumper grandma I remembered when I was younger.
I was never really that close to my maternal grandmother but I do know this. That my mom loved her from the bottom of her heart. She was always the most filial (in my opinion), the daughter who visited the most. Grandma has been holding out for quite a while, but this time it seemed that she was going to leave us for real. She left us that evening.
Perhaps we knew it was only a matter of time. But when it came, no amount of self-preparation could equip us for the fateful day as my mother and I wept by her deathbed.
‘From the moment we are born, we begin to die’
– Danish Writer, Janne Teller
Even as global literacy rate increases globally, and primary school mathematics become increasingly impossible to solve, it seems that we are taught a great many things – except how to approach death.
Danish writer Janne Teller aptly sums life up in just ten words; ‘From the moment we are born, we begin to die’.
Valar Morghulis, all man must die.
And the thing is, death is no respecter of age, status or wealth. When it comes, it comes. And sometimes, there is no time for preparation. I remembered attending the funeral of a friend a few years ago. She was 27 when she passed on.
It can be especially difficult for Christians to reconcile this. More often than not, we believe, pray and declare over our loved one’s life that “God is your Jehovah Rapha, He will heal you”. But what if God
does allows the opposite? At the same time, didn’t God also declare that this life we live is but a temporal phase, because we will eventually enter into His life everlasting where there is no more pain and suffering?
Some folks may choose to rebel against traditional conventions. I vaguely remember a friend mentioning that he would like to have a party (complete with booze) in his honour instead of a funeral, so that there will be ‘no tears’ – only celebration. For some alternative and peculiar funeral ideas, click here, here and here.
The truth – that everyone already knows – is this, no one lives forever. So, do we wish/pray for healing? If by some miracle the loved one is healed but goes into another relapse a few months later, do we wish/pray for another miracle? If so, for how many (more) times?
At the same time, in order to preserve whatever remains of one’s life, we consent to doctors injecting more drugs into the patient’s body, thus subjecting him/her to prolonged suffering. When do we stop? But if we know that all man must die (eventually), then should we continue to offer lip service to ‘get well soon’?
Perhaps we are hoping
against hope that we can delay death – to share one last moment, to resolve a past grievance, to ask for forgiveness, or simply to see his or her last smile.
I apologise if you have read so far expecting an answer, or if this post offended you in any way. Heck, maybe this post doesn’t even make any sense. There isn’t any easy way out to deal with death. But life goes on, it has to.
We can’t delay the inevitable, but we can start creating memories and cherishing moments with our loved ones, today. While we mourn their departure, we celebrate their life that’s well lived.
And importantly, in view of our own mortality, we can put aside petty quarrels and live a life of no regrets; one filled with tons of laughter, love and, surrounded by the people that matters. RW