Tag Archives: dying

Claiming Accountability for a Better World

By Jim Selman | Bio

Do you know that terrible sinking feeling when something really bad happens that you didn’t expect—something that you know will have a major and probably permanently negative impact on your life and the lives of those you love—and there is nothing you can do about it?

Many of us have these kinds of feelings whenever we witness a disaster or tragedy unfolding on the news. We can’t get the pictures of what is happening out of our minds. We proclaim, “It’s awful”

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Goodbye Mimi

By Jim Selman | Bio

This has been a sad week. My partner’s mother died at the age of 94. Even when the end is expected (and perhaps even welcomed after a long period of decline), it nonetheless has a powerful impact on those who cared. All of the clichés aside, there just isn’t much to say to the bereaved other than “I am sorry for your loss.” As we get older, death and dying becomes a larger part of our day-to-day reality as we lose friends and loved ones

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Fear of Dying

By Rick Fullerton | Bio

For much of my life, I have had a private conversation about dying. It began as a young child, probably triggered by overhearing my parents talking about people fighting cancer or other scary diseases. When I was 12 and our family doctor knocked on the schoolroom door, my first thought was that he had figured out I was going to die. I was shocked to discover he had come to tell me my father had died of a heart attack at just 53. I was devastated! Our family survived, mainly due to the strength and resourcefulness of my mother, along with a supportive extended family and local community. As for me, I learned to deal with my fears mainly through my internal conversations. Never as I child did I talk about this secret and only rarely in later life. Yet looking back, it is possible to see how this fear of dying influenced many of my life decisions and shaped the person I am today.

I
got married when I was 21—much too young according to my Aunt Laura!
But my wife and I were anxious to get on with raising a family. No time
to waste seeing the world or pursuing idle interests! In those days of
single incomes and stay-at-home moms, my role was clear and I was
determined to provide for my family. Duty called!

As life’s milestones passed, my conversations about dying changed. At 30, I was apparently in perfect health—no evidence of cancer

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Live Life to the Fullest

Randy Pausch, a 46-year-old Carnegie Mellon computer science professor, diagnosed with terminal cancer, gives his last lecture. He urges us to play the cards we are dealt, have specific dreams, enable the dreams of others and ourselves, and to understand that obstacles are opportunities for us to show how badly we want things and to demonstrate our commitment. View the 18-minute ABC video or the full Live Life to the Fullest lecture

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Mother

In loving memory of my mother, Ruth Selman (1920-2007), who passed away this morning at 11:20 am.

I am distracted by thoughts of dying, My actions blown away on wasted winds of imagination and thoughts I cannot think or speak.

I celebrate tomorrow and yearn for yesterdays,

The weakness of a restless soul longing for realities unlived and lost forever in the desert of forgotten dreams.

I am longing to disappear in a transcendent moment,

Able to relate in a comforting embrace and forget the lost moments of unexperienced possibilities and unconsummated potential.

I am too many people in too many times,

Filled with the pain of seeking what cannot be sought and hoping for resolution of unasked questions that have no answers.

I have circumnavigated the Universe eight times and seven,

Being both lighthearted and a dark cloud without reason, knowing only that I AM and always will be searching, without sleep or time to rest.

I am movement itself, without form or fashion, direction or goal,

Forever trapped in this prison of time and space, physical without form and spiritual without Being or power beyond myself.

I am beyond mere words—a silence embracing the absence of sound.

Rebirth isn’t possible when we cannot die or find an ending to the process we began so long ago—before we knew the cost of time.

I am Yesterday, Tomorrow and Forever, surrounding both life and death,

Now cannot be me, but it is all there is, and therefore I am not and never was—until someone finds me waiting for them for all eternity.

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Healing in Dying

By Kay Costley-White

The most joyful person I have ever met was a young man dying of AIDS. Chris’s path to serenity had been long and difficult.  In the early 1990s, his family, afraid of their community’s reaction to his gay lifestyle, rejected him. He moved from central Canada to Vancouver, developed a family of choice, and lived with a partner committed to a life-long relationship. But his partner and many of his friends died of AIDS. Then his place of employment found out the reason for his many absences for sick leave, and he was fired on the spot. Later, life-threatening infections kept him in hospital, too weak to care for himself. When I knew him, he understood that there was no hope for a cure or prolongation of his life. Medicine could do nothing beyond keeping him comfortable, and he was facing his imminent death.  But
the healing of who he was as a person—his mind, emotions and
spirit—induced people to visit his room to get a taste of his radiance.
 How could someone with such losses possibly be joyful? How had Chris got to this place of profound personal healing in the face of death? Did he have some strong religious faith to sustain him through his dark hours?  It appeared that he had opened to the anguish that can be a part of living, totally surrendered to his personal chaos, and eventually emerged beyond its confines. Witnesses to such a deep process are often left with healing of their own, a sort of ripple effect that produces a feeling of abundance in loved ones and professional caregivers alike.  You may ask, “What does this have to do with me—I’m still healthy and active?” While most people don’t aspire to the transcendence Chris demonstrated, we can all prepare ourselves to face our dying. We can explore our fear, participate in therapies to help us face the horror of final goodbyes, and find technologies to help us reach forgiveness. Employing these strategies requires courage and a certain tolerance for the unknown. But the process releases energy, and we may find that the degree of our readiness for death is directly related to the quality of our lives now. Chris showed us that opening to the full meaning of dying can enrich our experience of living. In demonstrating joy, serenity and gratitude in the face of death, he was an inspiration to the humanity in each of us, a source of hope for the growth of the human spirit.

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Fear 101

By Kay Costley-White

A lot is written these days about aging gracefully. As we approach our senior years, we also become aware of a vague dread: we don’t want to acknowledge our fear of dying.

Evolution, while fitting us with an urgent will to survive and multiply, also equipped us with a powerful, instinctive fear of death. It is perfectly normal and natural to have a strong aversion to anything to do with it. Many people end their lives without ever addressing the issue. But if we choose to open up to this part of our genetic makeup, what is it really about? Does it relate to the course of illness leading to the body’s demise

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Mother

I visited my Mother this week. She is 87 and not well. A lifetime of smoking has caught up with her and she is fighting emphysema every day. For the first time in a while, I came face to face with the reality that she is dying. Her comment to me is that “I don’t mind dying but don’t like dying this way”. These thoughts aren’t about not smoking, although as an ex-smoker, it is remarkable how that addiction can warp our judgment. My mother continues smoking to this day—now protesting

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Venus

I came home still a little teary and deeply moved after seeing Peter O’Toole’s new film Venus, a tour de force about a love affair, albeit chaste, between Maurice, an aging (80 something) lothario, and Jessie, an angry and unsophisticated young woman (20 something). I was eager to read the reviews and shocked to find that most viewers had put it down (6 on a scale of 10) largely<br

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The Last Day

About 3 hours until the ball drops and we all sing Auld Lang Seins and kiss someone close to us. This year had an early dinner, shared resolutions and went through the ritual of ‘completing’ 2006. I notice that staying up until midnight somehow isn’t what it used to be. Nonetheless, this is a special day no matter how cavalier I may be about it. Every culture seems to have a New Year. I suppose if you are Jewish and Chinese, you could have three New Year

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