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Posts Tagged ‘what to say at a funeral’

At little moments I feel the truth of that statement.  When I was very young and people would die it seemed a mystery.  Then in early adulthood death seemed a tragedy.  And now in real adulthood it seems a mystery again.

From Robert Lanza, MD on the Huffington Post:  “Your consciousness will always be in the present — balanced between the infinite past and the indefinite future — moving intermittently between realities along the edge of time, having new adventures and meeting new (and rejoining old) friends.”

If you’d like to  read the entire article  – click here.


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Is there any subtle way to ask, “If you have a choice, where would you prefer to die?”  There might be, but I can’t figure it out, so I am asking in my rustic way, “Have you thought about where you want to die?”  Assuming you’re not in a tragic accident (God forbid) you will have a choice.

The reason I ask is, my father-in-law passed away earlier this month and his choice in his advanced directive was to “go home”.  Three of us (all grown-ups)  had to read it over several times before it was clear to us.    No where did he write “I want to die at home ” but all of the sentences in his advanced directive read  “If __blank__  is happening, my preference is to go home.”  And every response to every medical situation presented was “to go home.”  Finally we got it.  We should bring him home.

Both of my parents passed away in hospitals.  Advanced directives or even conversations about how to die weren’t very vogue at the time.  I’m pretty sure dying in the hospital was what my father wanted as about 1 week before he passed, he stood up and said, “I need to go back to the hospital.”  It was the day after Christmas.  We pulled the car into the snowy front yard, right up to the front door so he wouldn’t have to walk but a few steps, and in my heart, I knew that this was the beginning of the end.   We were all still pretty young,  in our teens and 20’s and I think it would have been too difficult for him to leave surrounded by us and the amazing life he had created for us.

For my mother though, I think she might have wanted to pass away at home.  The beautiful home she had created.  It was Easter, the garden was blooming, the house was clean and ready for newness, and while she lay dying, she could not speak, so she wrote, “I want to go home” or “When can I go home” I can’t recall exactly and we weren’t sure what she meant.    Since she was a deeply spiritual person, we thought she might be implying her spiritual home.   She died very quickly, so most likely she would not have made it all the way home even if we had begun the process.  And dying en-route in a gurney or ambulance would have been dreadful.  We did the best we could at the time.

Since my experience was hospitals, that was all I knew.  I couldn’t imagine dying at home was a good thing.  I was wrong.  For my father-in-law it was perfect.   He had designed many aspects of his own house, built parts of it himself and lived there for over 50 years.  It was the keeper of his joy, his pain, his loves, his work, his life — it was the perfect place for him to pass his spirit into it’s next adventure.  Since we had discussed the art of shape shifting at different times, in some moments, I imagine his spirit simply shape shifted into the house and became the house.  He loved it so much.  I mean, really, I don’t know where his spirit is, but it sure doesn’t feel like it has gone too far.

So now I learned that bringing someone who is terminally ill home, can make death feel a little less scary —  like just another part of life.   Like many people, we moved his hospital bed into the living room so he would be a part of the daily happenings in the house.  Life moved on around him and when he was conscious he could hear us, smile at things that were funny, growl at things that hurt, and participate in life with even just his consciousness, his beingness, participating as he could until the very end.    We had a professional attendant 24/7 and daily visits by the hospice nurse, and over-care by family so he was well taken care of.  Almost every breath of his last days was witnessed by someone nearby who cared.

In those moments I became aware of the beauty of breathing. How profound it is to even take one breath.  Time slows down near the end – every second feels like a minute, every minute feels like an hour.  A lot of love slips in during those moments.   Secrets of the universe can slip in during those gaps and my recommendation is that you be there if you can.

For death, most likely we’ll need the Baby Boomers to bring a forbidden subject into the light and I am grateful again to be living in their shadow.  Boomers have a way of making anything that happens to them a big deal.  And I appreciate it.  They are great teachers.  So as they near death, I imagine they’ll again carry the torch of speaking up about the previously taboo subject.

This article in the LA Times on why end-of-life discussions are important has a lot of great things to consider:  http://ow.ly/11uH1

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We found this piece of prose when my mother died.  I think someone gave it to her when my father passed away.    Author is Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral
‘The King of Terrors’, a sermon on death delivered in St Paul’s Cathedral on Whitsunday 1910, while the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster.  Thank you to http://poeticexpressions.co.uk for letting us know who to credit for this beautiful work.

Death is nothing at all… I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you…whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone; wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.  Let  my name be ever the household word it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.

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Mother,
      My heart looks for you everywhere.  When I arrive at the airport.  When I enter your house.  Looking in the dining room I see Regina – and for a second – my heart thinks she is you.  My heart skips a beat and a flash of excitement runs through me – only to be sobered by reality.
     My mind imagines that our grief over losing you is greater than your grief over losing your mother and I know that is not true.  I’m embarrassed at how little we knew about how to assist you through that experience.

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Dear Mother,
     Right now, everyone is gone.  It is evening and I sit in the living room in the middle of the sofa and I feel only a fraction of what you must have felt every time the troops arrived and departed.  There is a lump in my throat, a sadness in my eyes, a breaking open of my heart, a tingle in my stomach.
     And now, a curiosity enters my eyes and a sense of excitement.  So I imagine that sad moment would translate into freedom and excitement for you, too. 
     You were so brave.  I know that for you it was nothing, but to me you seemed so brave.  To let 9 pieces of your heart loose into the world for better things and sometimes for worse things. 
   And my first desire is to sit at the piano and play.  How can that be?  Are you inside of me?  I am happy to play for you – just remember, I don’t play the piano as well as you – I only stumble.
    I feel your stance, your nobility, your way in me as I consider it and so I know it is your desire.  So I will play.

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The hard-copy of “Do You Still Laugh? Do You Still Sing?” is currently being re-designed for e-book distribution and new hard copy.

If you would like to receive notification of publication, leave a comment in the comments section below. Or you can contact the author by email and she will put you on the list for advance notification. Email address: melindaaugustina AT yahoo DOT com

Thanks for your interest – we wish you peace in all of your relationships. 🙂
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When death arrives, do not be too strong.
There are many people who want to do things for you at this time.  Let them.
Let them do every little thing they desire to do.
And ask for assistance.
Ask for assistance with every little thing you have to do.
     I asked a long-time family friend to ride with me to the health-food store very late one night and she was pleased to do it.  It seems like such a simple thing – ride with me to the store – but we had time to talk privately in a way prior circumstances had never allowed. 
     Across the room, while sitting at the dining room table, a friend heard me say I wanted a soda, and “poof”, seconds later it was by my side.  (See?  A little piece of heaven.)

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