This spring my father died. It is said the strangest thing about human existence is that although death is occurring all around us, we don’t believe it will happen to us. (This is from the Mahabharata, an ancient text.) I would say the same about my poppa passing. I did not fully believe death would happen to my father. Perhaps my mother’s passing will be less of a jolt to my system, assuming of course she passes before me.
It was surreal to say the least to pick out his casket with my mother and brother. Then there was the family only visitation and seeing him in the casket. Although, I was present at his death, this took reality up a few more degrees instantaneously. Of course, on the day of his funeral, our car was parked immediately behind the hearse, and we were in the first car in the procession behind the hearse to the grave.
While I had been to other funerals, wakes and visitation, even those of close relatives, this was vastly different. Although, I am only at best familiar with the Native American phrase “rite of passage,” I imagine that my experience is akin to such.
Despite the fact that we did not have much time from his diagnosis to his death, we were blessed to have some. We were clear on dad’s wishes about his dying and death as a family unit, so there was only understanding and support of him and each other. We each had time alone with dad over his last two weeks to clear the air, resolve hurts, and express love and wishes for one another. Although, the process from the ego’s point of view could be described as unpleasant, it was beautiful.
If you have not had these conversations about dying, death, unresolved issues, or forgiveness, please consider doing so now. Consider completing a living will for your self and encouraging your parents and partners to do so now also. Consider reading Dr. Ira Byock’s book, “The Four Things That Matter Most.” Death is inevitable and can be a unifying experience, or not. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away and addressing it now much peace may be found. Much love and peace to you and yours!