On death and dying

Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2020 10:46 am
The fact that she saw someone was in obvious and overwhelming distress, and could have even asked the first question.

There are many like that out there.
Even people that you would think would know better.

Years ago, a company I worked for was talked into one of those Dale Carnegie courses to send the sales force to, and I was one of them.

BTW, it was horrible, useless, and I ended up going to the class half drunk just to get through it. So this had to be in the mid 80's.

One time driving there on the interstate I passed a bad car wreck. I'm not a rubber necker, but at the closest point I couldn't help but glance over, because the car had completely turned over.
The woman in the drivers seat was obviously dead, with a broken neck. I'm thinking those "you never know" thoughts.
When I arrived at my destination, the doucebag instructor with his "Ever Present ENTHUSIASM!" was in the parking lot and asked me how I was. I told him what I'd just scene, and he replied something like "Oh Yeah! I know! I got held up in traffic for like 20 minutes yesterday!", with this big smile on his face.

I remember saying to him, dead pan. "The woman was dead"

"Oh yeah.....that's Bad!" changing to his "sincere" expression.

I hate people.

I especially hate Dale Carnegie.
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2020 10:54 am
I knew a guy took Dale Carnegie's course to help out his sales career. A year later, he was laboring in a chemical plant.
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Borat Sister
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2020 02:13 pm
Very glad to hear his end was so peaceful.

Sounds as though he may have finished his last unfinished business by checking out that you would be ok?

Also so glad to hear you all had that last good day and what sounds like a positive time with his body.

Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2020 02:25 pm
@Borat Sister,
Thanks dlowan

Taking a break right now.

Everything was going ok. Told 3 more people, and that ends that.
Took his leftover meds to the pharmacy and put them in the bin set up for that purpose, for proper disposal.

Since I'm done with his phone now, I called his cell provider to end service. Return of the Idiots.
Apparantly they can only close the account if they talk to the actual subscriber. The absense of the logic of that seemed to excape them at first. Still not canceled, I have to wait for something the equiv of godalmighty to call me back and bless me with that.

Then since tomorrow is trash day, I figured I'd fill up a bag or 2 of just stuff. I was fine with tossing shirts and similar.

Then I went over to a drawer and found in it some mini photo albums with pictures of him from way back in Vietnam. I am now a total wreck.

I so want to look at those pictures and how strong and handsom he was, but I'm incapable right now. I know I'll be able to at some time, but right now, sitting here and typing, my heart is breaking in two.

The impact of those photos, and a leather western hat he'd wear when it was raining, is just too much to bear.

It's just a bad wave right now.

Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2020 02:44 pm
Thoughts are with you. Glad his last day was good and the exit was peaceful.
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Tai Chi
Reply Wed 15 Jan, 2020 05:24 pm
You're in my thoughts, Chai.
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Borat Sister
Reply Wed 15 Jan, 2020 08:22 pm
I so get the things that suddenly break your heart
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Reply Fri 17 Jan, 2020 09:47 am
I decided to go back and read this thread from the beginning. In my first post I said....

chai2 wrote:

I don't think my husband is going to live much longer. Maybe a day, maybe a week or few months. I would not believe it if you told me he is going to see the new year.

That was written on January 13, 2019.

He died on January 12, 2020.

Cue Twilight Zone music.

Well, he did see the new year.
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Reply Fri 17 Jan, 2020 10:13 am
I think it's a significant achievement to enter a new year and decade. I am constantly amazed to look at a calendar and realize what date it is.
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Reply Mon 20 Jan, 2020 04:18 pm
You perfectly reflected my thoughts and feelings on death and society's selfish expectations of those who've suffered the loss. I just want to say that you are one of the very few clear-thinking and honest people I have ever read. You are a wonderful writer.

I am sorry for the insensitivity of those people you encountered during that time. They are not really fully conscious.

Anyway, on death and dying:

When my father died in 2001, I was not moved. My memory of that time is still clear. I had to buy a suit and pants and funeral shoes. I hated it. I didn't have a suit because I hadn't needed one up to that point in life because I didn't attend weddings or funerals. I didn't attend weddings and funerals because I was pretty much estranged from my family for reasons that I will not go into here.

And then my older sister died. So once again I donned my funeral gear and headed out. I got there just under the wire . . . as planned. And when the service was over, I left the building and headed for the parking lot and left immediately . . . as planned.

And then my younger brother died. So once again, I donned my funeral gear and headed out. I got there just under the wire . . . as planned. And I left immediately . . . as planned.

And then my mother died just last month, and I was not moved, but once again with the funeral gear. But this time I got there early to support my siblings because for the very first time, I saw them through different eyes and sensed their loss and feelings of grief and I guess some kind of loneliness. I could hear it over the phone in my sister's voice. I arrived at the funeral parlor at ten-thirty, and the service was at one-thirty. So for three hours, I watched as neighbors and relatives rolled in. Most of them I had not seen in thirty years, and some--the children of my nieces and nephews--I didn't even recognize; didn't know their names. And I had to think of things to say to all of them. It put me in mind of a watering hole in Africa where all of the different kinds of animals are forced to be in close proximity to each other, like it or not. People were hugging me and telling me that they were sorry for my loss. I thanked them because there seemed to be no other answer than that; not even silence would suffice.

While sitting off to the side with my older sisters, one of them was telling me that she had instructed her daughter to not allow a memorial service to take place for her. She said she had already made arrangements for cremation, and that there will be no service. I told her that if it were up to me, I would have someone take my body ten miles out to sea in a motor boat and dump me over the side. And as we were sitting there talking, the funeral director/preacher was standing within earshot. When the service began, he started off by giving a discourse on how important funerals are because they are not for the deceased, but for the one's left behind. His gaze went from my sister to me as he was saying it. I didn't like that. If he had looked at me again, I had planned to shake my head and wink at him, but he didn't look at me again. If it were a debate forum, I would have told him that I'd prefer to hear his opinion from someone else--someone without a conflict of interest concerning the issue. But it wasn't a debate forum. Anyway, he went ahead and used my mother's death as a platform to promote his fearful take on the terrible consequences of not believing as he does.

Among my mother's things was one of those white plastic egg-shaped things that pantyhose came in back in the 80s. I think they were called Leggs. For Easter about thirty years ago, I thought I would give her something special. So I wrote a poem that I thought would make her feel good about herself, and I folded it up and put it in that plastic egg. I thought it would help offset the bad times that resulted from living with an unbalanced husband who drank to find his balance, which caused both him and her to become even more unbalanced. She read it and cried and said it was the nicest thing anyone ever gave her. I believed her.

While going through my mother's things after she died, my sister found the plastic egg and the poem inside. During our phone conversation, she asked if it would be alright if they put it on the memorial funeral cards that they gave to everyone. I said sure. The preacher read it during the service. As he was reading it, I couldn't help but notice that it had been altered. Some words were missing, and some phrases had been changed. It ruined the cadence and flow of syllables. Someone in the chain of custody of my poem decided to edit it to their satisfaction. I went home and decided that, in fifty years, who's gonna give a damn. But still . . .

Before all of that, back in 1991, my dog died. Her name was Sadie. One Saturday morning as I was pulling out of the driveway to go to the mall, I saw her body on the road. She had slipped out of her collar and had been hit by a car. Every day for two years, she and I would walk to the State land and walk around the woods in the summer. I have no children, but she was my child. For years I had read so many books on philosophy, spirituality, New Age stuff, and death. I had sat in the audience listening to alleged wise men. And I came to understand that everything physical dies, but that there is no real death in the sense that the essence of the person is destroyed; it's just a transformation. I never looked at it as if someone was gone. I looked at it as if we were still here. So I took her to the pond and buried her among the pines on my property. I took another shower and then headed out to the mall.

I listened to the radio as I drove the thirty miles. I arrived at the mall and did my usual routine. Then I thought I needed to be getting back home because it was time for Sadie and I to take our walk. That's when I lost it. I tried to keep it together by blanking out my mind as I headed for an exit, but I wasn't in control anymore. People were looking at me as I walked past them. I felt weak. I finally made it to the exit and headed for my car. I started it up and drove to a far corner of the parking lot and shut it off and let it all out. Having forgotten what it's like to cry, I just let out all of my air in a silent wail, and I didn't let any air in for a long time. I pictured walking into the house and how it was going to feel like death in my now lonely lifeless home. I eventually got home and went to my bed and assumed the fetal position, my head filled with the sight of me digging a hole and putting her into it like so much insignificant mass.

I could tell you about her, but so much would be lost in translation from my heart to your ear. In the woods I would find my special log and sit in such a way that I could balance and drift off into a sleep state. She would run around the woods for about fifteen minutes and then come back and wake me up. Then she'd run around the trees, zig zagging so fast, and it would always make me laugh. And she'd watch my eyes as she did so. Then she'd come for her hug. Dogs smile. She'd have a look on her face that said, "We're having a lot of fun, aren't we!" Sadie the snow white Husky.

That was the standard against which I have measured the meaning of the death of others. Reasonable or not, that's what's true.
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Reply Mon 20 Jan, 2020 06:14 pm
this bit of the opening post really struck me last year and stuck with me

chai2 wrote:
seemed relieved when I told him I would be all right.

to find a variant in your post about your final conversation- yup wow

glad that
The day before had been a really good day, and that was good.

not sure about karma and all that but you both deserved that day
Reply Mon 20 Jan, 2020 07:44 pm
Good to see you here Beth.

Glenn, we are entirely on the same wave length.

I'll be back later with more, but for now, this...

It's to me totally understandable why you had so much more grief for your animal companion.
What did he ever do except love you and look up to you and tell you that you were absolutely the best? I mean every single day.

I would love to hear other people share their experiences with grief, or lack of.

This is a no judgement zone.

I'll be back at some point to talk about the week.

I need to distract myself right now with some RuPaul "AJ and the Queen"
(I started watching the first episode and was so horrified I was mesmerized. By the 3rd episode, I was totally addicted and laughing my ass off)
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Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2020 02:36 pm
I feel like I want to go up on stage and give a TED talk.

Why? I feel like the only way to get some cred in this generally overly unctuous modern society that tells us we must address bad news with an immediate call to arms to instantly make everything right. AKA the "I just want to help" syndrome.

Even sitting here starting to type, after having to take a couple of days to build up the nerve, I feel like somehow I'm going to "offend" someone by not feigning the "stricken widow/son/daughter/friend" etc.
Well actually, I am stricken. But way more than likely not in the way the general "you" want me to be.

The truth is, this "way" I'm "supposed" to feel to fit the parameters that people are prepared/capable to deal with doesn't exist.

I mean, how dare I not follow to the letter someone's perception of grief, like for instance Kubler Ross, or the article read in Psychology Today, or some YouTube video watched of someone filming themselves in their kitchen.
That, and the thousands of finds you get from a Google search in what you are supposed to say to someone who lost someone.

From my personal experience in the days following Kirks death, it is so clear to me that this concept of "everyone is different" is pure bullshit. Even well meaning, kind people that I love or like very much, want to instantaneously push me into a mold where they will be able to just as intantly be able to say just the right thing to make it better.

I don't want to sound angry. I'm really not.

Want I am resentful towards and unnecessarily distressed by is the insistence of people both known and unknown by me (like CSR's etc) that I am automatically the lowest common denominator.

This idea I'm totally helpless and unable to survive unless they Immediately(!) "help me" is the discomfort and shock on their part. Christ almighty neighbor/friend/friend of him...You KNOW me. When have you ever seen me helpless?

The idea (more particularly by strangers) that they need to prattle on incessantly with words that don't even make sense, and somehow just shoved helter skelter into their spiel, even after I make it know I just want to take care of business.

The tightness that grips my stomach and my jaw, and puts me on edge for hours afterwards is caused by the fact that when I tell this complete stranger, a disembodied voice about a death, too many times it turns into wasting 10 minutes (really) trying to get them to ******* stop repeating how sorry the are. Too many times saying "ok, please stop, I need to (fill in the blank)" is followed by a recap of "I just want to say how sorry I am blah blah blah"

Just STFU!!!!
I don't know you. You don't know me. I just want to delete a service.


Ok, if I was up on the TED stage, I would say

If you know someone and they tell you in person or over the phone that someone close has died, you only need to say One Word.

That word is....."Oh...."

Those 2 letters, said in shock, then despair, will so fully encapsulate what you emotions are at that moment. You Don't know what to say. You are taken off guard, or at the very least surprised, even if the death was expected/inevitable.

You Don't know what to say. There is nothing you can say. So just don't say it.

The person telling you is not going to think, at that moment, or at any time in the future, you didn't care.

Say "Oh......" and wait for, more importantly, the grieving person to say the next thing.
Take your cue from whatever that person says next.
If they don't say anything, then you don't either.

If you think you have something comforting or helpful to say before the grieving person says anything....

Against all popular (and false) belief, the 17 seconds after someone tells you someone they loved died is not the time to add your name to the already long list of people who have already informed them of their promise to do "Anything" they need. Followed many times by this expectant look like you think they have this list in their back pocket that they'll wipe out and give them an assignment. Anything to make you stop feeling so uncomfortable.

You have the rest of your life to offer help, express how sorry you are, what a great person he was.

Say it when the grieving person is able to actually think about what help they may need. When they are able to exist beyond their own soul sucking grief.

I promise you, I absolutely know who I can turn to for help, no matter how small. If you're one of them, I know you'll be there even if you didn't say those words.

I know who you are.
I also know who is not.

If you don't know the person, like if you're voice on the other end of the line and is being asked to cancel something, just say....

"I'm Sorry. So let me get your request started"...and don't bring it up again. At the end of the call, say "Thank you for calling" and end the call.

Honestly? You don't even have to say "I'm Sorry" The grieving person is not going to think later about how "That CSR didn't express condolences" The grieving person will however dread later on having to make a similar call, and put up yet again with someone who can't just do their job.

I really did/do dread some of the calls I had to make, and have to make, because of this. I would actually have to go lie down and cry after some of them.

Anyone who is thinking "But they were just trying to be nice" are more than likely to be that type of person who just will not, even under direct request, spare someone from the pain of having to listen to their meaningless platitudes.

The absolute best thing that has been said to me when informing someone of Kirks death?

Would you like a cup of tea?

That stunned me for a second. Then I said "Why yes. Yes I'd love a cup of tea"
Then we both sat there together while the water boiled, and then quietly sat together and drank our teas.

I felt normal for that time.

Not 10 minutes goes by that I don't think of him. Not necessarily in a "I miss him way". There are many tasks I'm in the middle of that he is the reason for those things existing. I'm content, even happy much of the time. I laugh a lot. I'm not in denial, or bargaining, or any of that other stuff I'm "supposed" to be going through. I'm simply going on the way billions of people before this modern concept of "god forbid there's any pain" came about.

It's natural, and right.

I do private grieving that comes on suddenly and leaves just the same way. I know it's the nature of things.
I don't need or want well meaning people trying to take this pain away from me. It belongs to me, and I will not have someone think their cliques and offers of help are impacting my grief.

Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2020 04:47 pm
When my older brother died our house filled up with well wishers, more than half of whom I had never seen before. My mother sat in her chair in a corner, looking straight ahead, at nothing in particular. When finally the house was empty she told me, these people are waiting to see me break down. I'm not going to do it. She never let anybody witness her grief. She never spoke to a one of them. She felt that it was none of their business how she was after he was gone.
Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2020 07:45 pm
Yep. If that's how she wanted it, good on her.

Reply Fri 24 Jan, 2020 08:16 am
Hi Chai - hope you don't mind me putting in a "funny" from my dad's funeral...and an outtake from my best friend's dad's funeral when she and I were kids -

So we grew up in predominately Catholic area and families including mine (which I moved onto a more general Christian belief ) - any way at my friend's dad's wake - I just kind of hung out with my friend to give her comfort as best I could by just being a sounding board . Now anyone familiar with these wakes they put the body on display after dressing them putting makeup on them trying to make them look like "them" - (I still don't understand this) - anyway she is venting saying why does everyone say he looks good; he is dead! I think this goes to what you are saying sometimes just being there physically is all someone wants - sometimes the words you are "supposed" to use are more odd.

So flash forward many years at my dad's wake - and there my dad is after all the makeup and stuff and after being very sick before hand so I kind of understand why people were saying he looks so good -but I flash to what my friend was saying - and as much as I love my dad, to me that is not him, that is what he left behind.

For the funny - here I am with one of my brothers and we over hear some great aunt forget specifically how she is related to us. So she is saying "Wow! Look how good he looks - he looks so handsome - (to be honest they did make him look very good) - then she goes on to say I have to come here when I die so they will make me look this good!"

Well at least it gave my brother and me a good laugh.

People are weird.
Reply Fri 24 Jan, 2020 08:46 am
Not to defend the CSRs, but I suspect they've been trained/required to do something like that. And with, most likely, their call being monitored by management, they've got to dance the dance.

It's still abhorrent and just downright weird.

We missed a train once because a funeral we thought would take about 30 minutes took (no lie) almost 3 hours. Had to explain to Amtrak why we needed a new train and why they should give it to us for what we paid.

Amtrak, to their credit, were fast about it. All I had to say was funeral running over and then the agent said they were sorry one time and then they took care of things and that was that. One quick acknowledgment, okay, this is a commercial transaction, let's get it done ASAP.
Reply Fri 24 Jan, 2020 11:03 am
Don't ever worry about saying something humorous Linkat. I really appreicated that story, and yeah, it put a smile on me while I'm drinking my first cup.

In fact, I so look forward to reading what you have to say. You strike the perfect balance of sympathy, yet taking into account what you've learned the other person in comfortable and not comfortable with. It's wonderful watch how you weave that together.

You are a true diplomat.

Yeah. Everyone has their own ideas of what should happen with the remains after death. But I'm with you. A wake, with the open casket, makeup, comments of how "good" they look is very strange to me. For me personally, I'd go even further to say barbaric.

I remember as a child, back in the day, when my maternal grandmother died.
We lived at the Jersey Shore, and she lived in Newark.

It was the full blown 3 day viewing with the twice a day slots of something like 2 to 5 and 6 to 9. Because I was a kid, in my mind this seemed to go on a lot longer than 3 days. It's like it was something permanent that would have to be done every day.

I was little, like maybe 6?
By I guess the 3rd day I had decided it was something I couldn't understand why anyone would want.
Saying it in adult words that I didn't have back then, it was just a circus performance.

Everyone had their assigned roles to play, and they dutifully just plodded through it.

My feelings never changed for any other funeral or viewing, or wake after that.

Where were all you people when the dead was alive?

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Reply Fri 24 Jan, 2020 11:05 am
jespah wrote:

Not to defend the CSRs, but I suspect they've been trained/required to do something like that. And with, most likely, their call being monitored by management, they've got to dance the dance.

I have something to say about that, but later.

It's something I learned in the last month or so from someone whose job it is to monitor social media posts of negative stuff about the company, and contacting the people with complaints to resolve.

Gotta go deliver lunch joy to Austin right now.

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Reply Fri 24 Jan, 2020 03:01 pm
Death - there have been many.
Funerals - I only went to the one. It was for my father and I was 14. The thing made little sense to me and then piling into black cars for the trip to the cemetery for his burial. It was the second half of October, which is usually damp and chilly in anything north of the Mason-Dixon (at least in the east).

Anyway, he was put in the ground and covered with dirt. Mercifully, the cemetery people did that, it wasn't open r those things where each person tossed a handful of soil and a flower. We headed home and I already knew, someday, I'd opt for cremation.

I still have the American flag which was draped over his casket. It's a link and reminder of the weird non-feeling which was in me.

A week or so later, Mother asked if we should send Christmas cards. Strange she seemed at times. They were sent, the day after Thanksgiving, as always. She never showed emotion. Then again, neither did us kids. That's how we were.

I never react to a death the same way twice. Each person elicits a different response.

I was 11 when my grandfather died. We got the call during Thanksgiving dinner. I was not overly attached to him. Yes lived in France and I'd only met him twice. Still, I was saddened.... That is, until Mother instructed me not to cry. I went out the door and didn't even bother grabbing a jacket.

When my father died, Mother (being who she was), stood in the hallway outside the bedrooms and said (and I quote) "wake up, your father's dead.". UM, yeah, buenas Dias to you too. Sure did not prepare me for the line of cops standing silently in the living room, keeping anyone from getting to the kitchen. I took a shower, got dressed and got out of there. A neighbor asked me what had happened (several vehicles out front). Was it the old man? (He meant the landlord). I told him I didn't want to talk about it and kept going while he continued delivering the morning newspapers. Headed off and ended up a couple of miles away, sitting on a bench watching the sun rise. I still like seeing the sunrise. It sort of tells me things will be okay. A new day.

Clearly, not much for me to say as for how you, or anyone should proceed. Only you can decide that and you will, in your time and way.

When mother finally bit the dust, I felt her presence and told her to leave. It was another October passing and interestingly, she was the exact same age as my had been when he went a few years before.

She was cremated and I got on with life. Went to the doctor the next day. Life continues.

Had a friend who died back in '95. I went through several emoticons rapidly. I reached raging anger in about three days. My timing was not great. His ashes and death certificates were being dropped off that afternoon and I was clearing shelves off with the sweep of an arm. Knocked over some furniture as well. Once I cleaned up the mess, I was calm and a moving towards peacefulness..albeit, a numb peacefulness.

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