October 4th, 2015 by Jan

I appreciate that even when I don’t update this bloggy thing everyday, that people still come to read here. Thank you.

I truly am amazed at just how many people do read this. I know you are out there, not because of comments made here — but because of the personal emails and comments I am sent. Again, thank you.

Today, I have a topic to write about and am not sure how to go about it. This bloggy thing can become a bit too “dear diary” and well, truth be told – I have a diary I write in that doesn’t get public postings and hopefully someone will burn unread, upon my death. ☺

Speaking of death, last night I saw a film called Grief Walker. I wish I had recorded it, as I’d like to watch it again.

From the google:
Griefwalker is a National Film Board of Canada feature documentary film, directed by Tim Wilson. It is a lyrical, poetic portrait of Stephen Jenkinson’s work with dying people. Filmed over a twelve year period, Griefwalker shows Jenkinson in teaching sessions with doctors and nurses, in counselling sessions with dying people and their families, and in meditative and often frank exchanges with the film’s director while paddling a birch bark canoe about the origins and consequences of his ideas for how we live and die.

Now, while I’m a fan of bumper sticker philosophy (see Today’s Step), I am not a fan of contrite platitudes. I did not like the spiritual rhetoric that ran through this show. However I did appreciate many ideas Jenkinson brought up about how people die and the fears they have.

One thing that really struck me was him saying if we need to be told we are dying — then we are very disconnected to life. Even though everyone and everything dies… somehow denial about it is still huge!

Jenkinsons also asked how many of us have seen a dead person. The answer was not many. The dead are not part of our ways in North America, we hand them over to doctors and funeral directors quite quickly. We hide not only our dead, but the old and dying as well.

The other thing that really got to me, was that people don’t realize they are dying because our medical system is able to keep everyone not only comfortable, but alive well beyond their time.

Case in point. My dad never felt any pain from his cancer. He had a steady supply of drugs that made it so he never felt ANY discomfort. Most of us think this is a blessing. But, it could also be one reason he continued to say, “I’m getting better – I think I’ll beat this – I just need to get my strength back.”

As far as I know, (and I may be wrong, because we don’t talk about it) I was the only person who ever actually told dad he was dying. Even the wonderful nurses of Hospice (and they are wonderful) would skirt the issue and ask him why he “thought” they were there.

Now, of course he talked in the big picture about after his death. Who would talk and what kind of music there would be at his memorial service. He was concerned about his obit and also paid in full for his cremation and such. His will was in order and all but… his death. Nope. Nothing about how he might actually die.

Too much of our society dances around the issues of death in loo of hope and miracles and the outward appearance of staying positive and strong so as to survive. Or we deal with the business of after death. We rarely talk about what the last breath might be like. In my opinion this makes it darn near impossible for loved ones to say good bye or express true feelings

I’m not one for talking politics or religion, but I am very open to talking about how we die. I hope well before my time comes close — the people around me will be open about it too.

2 thoughts on “let’stalkaboutdeathmore

  1. LauraB

    Hi Jan,

    Sometimes my heart skips a beat so there’s silence in my chest, and then the next beat is a double beat, and it feels like a strong thump. I often know when this is about to happen, and I find myself reflexively holding my breath. I don’t know why. Sometimes I’m aware that I am waiting for that big thump. I imagine that maybe dying is what happens when you’re waiting for that thump and it just never comes.

    1. Jan Post author

      Thanks for this Laura. I think it is wonderful that you know your thumps.
      I think a lot of people wait around for others to tell us when a thump is or is not going to come.
      Knowing ourselves could make knowing our death way more interesting and not so scary.


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