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How can I help you say goodbye?

30 Jan

We will all ride the same train eventually

After my Mothers death I heard this country song on the radio.  It really had me thinking about how well she and I said goodbye.  How I would and can say goodbye when my time comes.  Family’s don’t want to talk about death or leaving.  Yet it is one thing that will happen to everyone.   As an unwell person I am very aware I may not live out the natural longevity that runs in my family.   Yet it is a subject I can’t talk about; even with my husband.  People want to smile and laugh and say, “Oh stop being so dramatic…..you will live a long life.  You are only as old as you let yourself feel!”

Family and friends are afraid to say out loud that their loved one is living a life that is running down and coming to an end.  Is it partly fear about their own departure from this life?  Whatever the reasons, it ends up being selfish.

I walked with a friend while he died of colon cancer.  His extended family would not allow him to talk about this dying or death.  Instead they wanted him to shut up and only talk positive life-things.  I have often wondered how censored he felt.  And alone.  Not allowed to even talk about the very thing that was happening to him in the NOW!  Horrible idea of dying that alone…….where what you are living is off-limits in all conversations.  We think dying alone means you had no family or friends to be with you during that time.  I think it is more a reflection on how brave and loving a family is that can allow the person to talk all they want about where they will be going soon.

Did you know that in Europe the dying/death experience is treated with great care and dignity….some cultures firmly believing the person is getting closer and closer to God and therefore will have wisdom to share.  You won’t find families fighting over how their loved one dies, but rather they gather together to honor, reminisce with laughter and fondness.   A grand sendoff indeed!  The United States seems to be the only culture that rails against death, almost treating it as a failure; demanding the unwell person get up from their deathbed and ‘beat this thing’.  What a horrible burden to put on someone you love.  Most cultures (except ours) accept that there is the beginning, the middle and the end of life.  It is just the facts of reality.  They accept it and honor it.

Love this country western song.  It says it all for me.  It is not negative to me.  In fact I would rather do my dying out loud and full of laughter and insights and sharing memories than become so isolated I am forced to pretend it is not happening to me.

Here are the words to the song………

Never waste a goodbye with your fears!

How Can I help you say good bye?
Through the back window of a ’59 wagon

I watched my best friend Jamie slippin’ further away
I kept on waving ’till I couldn’t see her
And through my tears, I asked again why we couldn’t stay
Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same
And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?

I sat on our bed, he packed his suitcase
I held a picture of our wedding day
His hands were trembling, we both were crying
He kissed me gently and then he quickly walked away
I called up Mama, she said, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?

Sitting with Mama alone in her bedroom
She opened her eyes, and then squeezed my hand
She said, I have to go now, my time here is over
And with her final word, she tried to help me understand
Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?

How can I help you to say goodbye?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Aging in America

 

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