Guest Author - Rev. Jaclin Meade Scott
This article discusses issues that can be avoided for years. Finally, as you face your own death, they become huge roadblocks hampering your transition. Some of them you can easily guess. But the biggest road block may surprise you.
Relationships is the first place people look when someone is having a difficult time letting go of this realm. “She’s waiting til So&so gets here”. Though seemingly unresponsive, the dying person knows. And, sure enough, once So&so has made an appearance, She slips quietly away.
Not so easily resolved is the relationship that wasn’t going well. Chances are, the estranged person wouldn’t dream of making a death bed visit. Sometimes family members intervene. There are such things as death bed reunions and healing. But mostly in the movies. The advice here is to make amends now, no matter your age or health status. Easy? Absolutely not. But these festering emotional issues affect your whole life, not just the final stages. You may have yourself convinced that you’re just fine with things the way they are. What if next week is your last, but you don’t know it yet? There is no intention of morbidity here. If we all lived as though each day was our last, the world would be a different place. Conquering your pride and resolving conflict can only make you an emotionally healthier person.
No matter how old one’s children are, a parent wants to know who will take care of them in the parent’s absence. No matter that you have children and grandkids of your own – you are still your parents’ “baby”. Give them names. They need to know.
Care of pets is frequently a big deal. Promise them Fido will have a good home. When your loved one gets to heaven, they’ll understand that you can’t have pets in the apartment, or that nursing a 21 year old cat is beyond your capabilities and time constraints. For now, make it easy on them. Realize the importance of the emotional attachment, even if you’re jealous of it! If Mom took better care of the canary than of herself, you have to let those feelings go.
Most folks with finances to care for have done something about it. Most. They may forget, though, and keep asking. Assure them with the lawyer’s name, or that you have all “the papers” and will take care of everything. If they’ve done nothing about anything, get as many details as you can every time it comes up. Good luck. Many have been in your position, so don’t be shy about asking for help.
While major financial and business issues may have been seen to, it is the disbursement of household items that turns families ugly. UGLY! Mean, rude, hurtful, greedy – ugly. Write to Bella Online’s Psychology editor about this one.
While you may be less than enthusiastic about Dad’s collection of dead bugs pinned to a board, it represents his life’s work. Be respectful. Find some other bug people and offer it to them. Whatever a person’s passion was, put someone in charge of its disposition who will really honor the departed. You’ll feel better about it in the long run. And Dad will appreciate it in his last days.
Many people have some faith based idea of what happens to a person’s essence – soul – after death. They may have no fear of being dead. But the dying process throws many of us for a loop. It’s a fear of the unknown, because there are no rehearsals. We panic over the possibility of machines, the long term illness, the quality of life in our last days. Talking about it, and making one’s wishes known, can take this stress away.
Spiritual matters are of utmost importance. There is a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. The same can be said of death beds. It’s a time of reckoning. Fortunately, there are plenty of ordained people accessible to help your loved one deal with this. Find them and bring them on board.
Here’s the clincher. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a peaceful transition is something few people think about or want deal with until it’s too late.
You broke Mom’s favorite vase as a kid and let the cat take the blame. Theft. Adoption. Abortion. Infidelity. Past history. Sex. Deviant behavior. Physical hurt. Wartime actions. Drugs. Lies. Abuse.
You may take these secrets with you to your grave, but you’ll do it kicking and screaming. Small or large, inconsequential or horrific, secrets will come back to bite. So what will you do about it now, while you still can?
Again, you are not reading that it’s going to be easy. However, doing it now will save much agony later. The truth of it is that you probably didn’t have to keep the secrets. You are the one that manufactured the whole scenario around it. It is in your control now to make changes. Strive for inner peace.