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Thread: Is natural death the only way out? — On the topic of death

  1. #191 “Grief is Praise” from The Smell of Rain on Dust — by Martín Prechtel 
    The following is an excerpt from The Smell of Rain on Dust by Martín Prechtel. In his book, Prechtel explains that the unexpressed grief prevalent in our society today is the reason for many of the social, cultural, and individual maladies that we are currently experiencing. He goes on to show how this collective, unexpressed energy is the long-held grief of our ancestors manifesting itself, and what work can be done to liberate this energy so we can heal from the trauma of loss, war, and suffering.

    Grief expressed out loud, whether in or out of character, unchoreographed and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.
    “Grief is Praise” from The Smell of Rain on Dust — by Martín Prechtel

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  2. #192 Why My Grandfather Was Happy Even When He Was Dying — by Heather Moulder 
    Over a short time period, Charlie went from regularly golfing and gardening to being unable to do much (other than watch his body slowly waste away). He couldn’t drive, needed full-time oxygen, and had trouble walking on his own.

    Given his condition, you’d think he would have exhibited (at least some) anger, frustration, or depression. Yet he didn’t. Instead, he was the happy, content man I’d grown up with.

    Initially, I assumed that he was hiding how he really felt so that he could remain the strong patriarch of our family. But over time, I realized that he wasn’t faking it. He was happy despite all that he was going through.

    As a young, stressed-out law student who couldn’t fathom handling his situation half as well has he was, I wanted to know how this could be. So, I got up the courage to ask him.

    Charlie told me that happiness has nothing to do with your circumstances or how you feel physically. Happiness is about who you are.
    Why My Grandfather Was Happy Even When He Was Dying — by Heather Moulder

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  3. #193 When Someone You Love Is Grieving: How to Really Help — by Angie Schultz 
    It’s hard to stand at the edge of someone else’s grief.

    There’s the awkwardness. You always feel a little like an uninvited guest who arrived late and missed the first half of the conversation—a conversation that turns out to be a wrestle between another person and the deepest parts of their own soul.

    What can you say when you realize you’ve barged in on an interaction so intimate, so personal that you just want to avert your eyes and slink quietly away?

    Then there are the triggers.

    Grief has a way of unsettling everyone in the proximity. It stirs up our own unhealed parts. Is it any wonder that we have the instinct to smooth over the other person’s emotions, to take everything back to normal, before it has the chance to stir up something inside us?

    But here’s the thing: Your friends need you. Your family members need you. When we are grieving, we need our closest loved ones more than ever.
    When Someone You Love Is Grieving: How to Really Help — by Angie Schultz

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  4. #194 If You’re Afraid of Death, Like Me… — by Alison Wegner 
    There is something most people don’t know about me. It’s what drives me; what ruins my sleep; what pushes me forward and simultaneously holds me down.

    It’s my fear of death. I don’t fear death in the sense of not wanting to grow old or get sick. I fear not existing. I fear oblivion. I fear that all of this means nothing.

    I first realized I would die at the age of thirteen. My beloved grandfather had become ill with lung cancer, and within a few months he was gone. On his passing, it wasn’t so much his illness that plagued me as his sudden absence from the world.

    My child’s mind could not fathom how a person could cease to exist. Where did he go? Where were all his thoughts, his memories? How could an entire being just disappear?

    I realized that what came for him, waited for me also. I remember the night I figured it out; lying on my aunt’s pull-out couch. The light from a street lamp stained the white cupboard doors, and I stared at them for hours. I swallowed my breath against the crushing knowledge. My little heart rattling against the imperfection of its creation.

    This realization has shaped my life.
    If You’re Afraid of Death, Like Me… — by Alison Wegner

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  5. #195 Bronnie Ware: Living Without Regrets — a SoundsTrue interview by Tami Simon 
    Bronnie Ware is an author and speaker whose bestselling book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, is based on her time as a palliative care worker. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Bronnie outlines these five major life regrets with Tami Simon and discusses the experiences in end-of-life care that inspired them. Bronnie explains how most regrets arise from a lack of courage and why people are willing to share so openly during their last days. Tami and Bronnie speak on the healing power of sharing our most vulnerable selves, even if it's in a letter that we never send. Finally, they talk about maintaining trust in the flow of life and why happiness is ultimately a choice.(61 minutes)
    I've included posts excerpts by Bronnie Ware before but this is a wonderful interview.

    Bronnie Ware: Living Without Regrets — a SoundsTrue interview by Tami Simon

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  6. #196 How to Bring More Meaning to Dying — by BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger 
    Most of us don’t like to talk about our own death. And when we refer to other people’s deaths, we often say things like “Her health is failing” or “He failed treatment.” These common sentiments make it sound like death is an option or that we can prevent it somehow—if only we ate more kale or walked 10,000 steps a day.

    But guess what? Death isn’t optional.

    Death is as much a part of our life as birth. And, just like a birth, it goes better when we are prepared for it. Not that we can control all outcomes or make it pain-free—but there is a lot we can do to help make it easier and more meaningful.

    In our new book, A Beginner’s Guide to the End, we talk about all of the ways people can prepare themselves and their family members for the inevitable. Some of our book focuses on basic practicalities—like how to talk to doctors if you have a chronic illness, how to make treatment decisions, what documents to have in place for your end-of-life care, and how to create wills and trusts. We try to provide a comprehensive list of resources and detailed advice about how to manage this part of dying.

    But, while many people think to prepare for the practical aspects of dying, too often they give short shrift to the emotional side of dying—meaning, what to do so that your death has more meaning and is less emotionally trying for yourself and those left behind.

    There are many ways that you can improve the experience of dying if you plan for it and communicate your wishes to your loved ones. Here are some of the ideas we recommend in our book.
    How to Bring More Meaning to Dying — by BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger

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  7. #197 My Favorite Tip to Ease the Pain of Grief — by Kristen Schowalter 
    I'm providing a bit of the introduction but it does't provide the tip, the realization, that Kristen provides later on. I thought it was a fascinating bit of earned wisdom.

    Many people like to think of grief as an emotional experience. It’s something that dominates your internal, emotional space, and that’s it.

    But it doesn’t take long when you’re in the thick of grief to experience grief that isn’t emotional at all.

    You feel heavy. Like there’s a giant weight on your shoulders.

    You feel like your legs are weak and shaking from trying to stand after the ground has been pulled out from underneath you.

    It’s hard to breathe because it feels like the wind has been knocked out of you.

    You feel heartbroken. Like there is literally a hole punched in your chest. Your grief is as much physical as it is emotional.
    My Favorite Tip to Ease the Pain of Grief — by Kristen Schowalter

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  8. #198 Death: The Prophecy That Never Fails — by Sofo Archon 
    The very moment we were born we were sentenced to die.

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  9. #199 How death doulas ease the final transition — by Cynthia Greenlee 
    Vivette Jeffries-Logan and Omisade Burney-Scott are friends for life - and collaborators in death.

    Three years ago, when a mutual friend realized she wouldn’t survive pancreatic cancer, the two central North Carolina women were within the circle of friends she summoned.

    Over the course of about three months, the women stayed at Cynthia Brown’s side as the community activist and one-time Durham City Council member went about the process of dying.

    They rubbed her head, kept a watchful eye on her pain, and helped her decipher doctorspeak. And when her spirits appeared to lag, they’d tell her jokes and sing at her bedside.

    This, Jeffries-Logan says, was a good death: “If I can help someone at the end of life heal and be clear, I will. There are some things we are required to do alone, but we are not isolated. We are community people. What happens to my nation happens to me. What happens to me happens to my nation.”

    Jeffries-Logan and Burney-Scott are death doulas; their form of caregiving is both old and new. The ancient Greek word “doula,” meaning “woman servant” or “slave,” was repurposed in the 1960s to describe birth workers who offer encouragement, back rubs, and other assistance during childbirth.

    These days, end-of-life doulas, sometimes called death midwives, are an emerging profession in the growing death positivity movement, which urges a paradigm shift for thinking and talking about death as natural and not inherently traumatic.
    How death doulas ease the final transition — by Cynthia Greenlee

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  10. #200 The Day I Died — by David Warren 
    Sometimes, it takes a life changing event to change your perspective on what life should be about.

    I learned that no event is more life changing than death. Ironically, it took my own death to learn how to live better.

    After I let my Golden Retriever out a on a cold November night I died or so I’m told.

    I didn’t see the light but I didn’t see darkness either. Frankly speaking, I saw nothing and I definitely don’t remember dying.

    I’m told I went quickly! I collapsed on my favorite couch, after going into full cardiac arrest and I was dead for at least fifteen minutes.

    My wife’s quick actions, the paramedic’s paddles and the grace of god brought me back to life.

    It took five jolts of the defibrillators to bring me back amongst the living and some good doctors and nurses at Kettering Medical Center here in Ohio to keep me alive!

    When I came out of a coma and off of the respirator machines a few days later, I heard the same thing over and over. It was a miracle I was alive and had beaten all the odds.
    The Day I Died — by David Warren

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