How to Talk To Someone Who’s Dying
I’ve noticed you make a funny twitch when I share the news. A slight discomfort, shifting of weight, sometimes even a wince. It can come up in any seemingly harmless conversation. Simple questions about my lifestyle can lead us down the rabbit hole so quickly. ‘Why don’t you eat sugar?’ ‘Are you limping?’ ‘What did you do today?’ ‘What kind of milk are you giving me to put in your latte?’ In the case of those who know something about what’s happening it’s often more subtle. ‘How are you really doing?’ ‘So happy you made it through okay!’ ‘You look so good!’
The truth is, just about every statement or question about my personal well being seems to come around to my health, my brain tumor, my seizures, my treatment protocol, my prognosis. There’s a hidden reality behind all those details which is important to acknowledge. It’s the discomfort in that twitch, the realization of the deepest truth, that my expiration may come sooner than yours. I like to approach it with the euphoria and gusto of a mad scientific discovery, I’m gonna f**kin die!
To me this is a euphoric statement for so many reasons.
Here’s a few:
First off, it is pretty much the only truth, that as of now, is true for all of us. We all share this reality in common. Our bodies are temporary vessels, we gotta enjoy them while we have them, take good care of them, honor them, empower our purpose for them. We are all gonna die. If you haven’t come to terms with that yet, and many of us haven’t, I suggest you give it a shot. Meditation is one of many great paths to get more comfortable with your death.
There is immense reward in confronting your death. I truly believe the life pausing experiences that remind us of our mortality are deep gifts. They are the ultimate wake up call, the best way to be shaken back into action. Time is running out, lets make it count! I feel so called to purpose, to health, to joy and LIFE in honoring my death. It is the best reminder to be present and enjoy the moments I have.
Waking up each day to pill bottles, routine MRIs, blood tests and getting used to having needles jabbed in your arm can be a drag, no doubt. Somehow, with each dose of medical processing, I feel more animated, more compelled to live fully, in my heart and my joy. I feel this gift of life every day, when I walk under the warm sun, feeling the leaves rustling in the wind, looking deep into a friend’s eyes, sharing a laugh… Those limiting experiences of ‘sickness’ are the yin to open up so many other yang experiences for glory and wonder.
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So the next time you connect with someone who seems to be unwell, perhaps closer to death than you think you are, press pause. Recognize you too are going to die, it may actually happen before the sick person in front of you. It’s also very likely that person who seems ill is receiving incredible life-affirming gifts of love, joy, presence and peace just through the healing process.
Ask them if and how they want to speak about their experience. Or if you don’t feel comfortable bringing it up, just remember, we all want to feel connection and love. We all want to be heard and supported. Lend an ear, a hand, a hug or just a smile to someone who’s going through it. Your life gives life, don’t be afraid of death, lean into it and give it a big (consensual) hug.
We’re all in this together, may as well make the most of it!