The Business of Dying

As I explore the fabulous blogs that are out there, in this site, I am amazed at the wide variation of themes. I also note recurring themes and it seems that the human experience is meant to be shared. In doing so, laughter, enlightenment, education, wit, beauty and so much more are made available to all readers. I would like to think that we all have something to share. And so far, my experience of this site, reassures me that this is the case. I have found myself laughing fit to burst (Harsh Reality, Opinionated Man), moved (Geo Sans), entranced (PICZLoad), enlightened and amused (Marian The Seminarian) and well, pretty much every range of emotion as I gaily follow so many impressive people. I’ve only been on here a few days and I’ve hardly been off it. I can’t stop reading. (Not doing much for the writing).

I said in my Blog that I would date any entries that are ‘old’ writing. This is one of them. It’s still close to my heart. And I know, from speaking to others since my Mum’s death, that the experience is universal and also unique.

(21/10/09)

The business of dying is more difficult than the business of living. No matter how busy or arduous your life nothing surely can compare to how hard it is to go through the process of diminishing unto death. Getting up early, organising family, food, chores et al can all be done with some effort. Being unable, gradually or suddenly, to do anything for oneself is frustrating, humiliating, overwhelming.

How can one cope with the loss of all independence? How does one resign oneself to decreasing ability, mobility, choice?

My mum is dying and it’s not easy for anyone. We watch and tend and listen, trying to comfort, minister, alleviate.

Mum, though, does not understand why. Why does she have leukaemia? Why does she feel so tired? Why does she have to go for transfusions? Why does she have a catheter? Why do these nurses and carers have to be coming in? Rationally and in conversation she understands. These things can be explained – she is not without her mental faculties. But inside her heart she does not understand why. It’s as if death should come and take her by surprise. Instead, it is creeping through her body, insinuating itself slowly and mercilessly. She cannot let go to life – she is, after all, still alive. The desire to remain so is strong and inbuilt. But she is tired. Tired to the bone and tired of feeling the way she does. If death has to come she wants to go to sleep and be taken by it. Staying awake and being aware of its insidious progress is tortuous for her. She knows it is happening deep down – deep down in the marrow of her bones and deep down within herself.

Acknowledging the onset of death – the end of life – the departure from loved ones – I don’t know how anyone deals with this. Nothing in real experience has taught me how it would be. It is all foreign ground – to me and to my family.

The movie experience of dying is written from someone else’s experience or imagination and it is no help to the individuals involved in our own drama.

Mum is suffering, surely. But it is not physical pain for which there is pain relief. Her torment is an earth – bound purgatory, neither living nor dead.

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