Death has a way of sneaking up on you in your daily life. I guess life is a sexually transmitted disease and it’s terminal. I try not to think too much about it but sometimes it gets in my head and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s hard to comprehend – like the vastness of the universe.
I was at the vets with Monty recently and a lady was there with her dog who’d been hit by a car. It was so sad. He was flailing around in pain and trying to sit up because she was there. He wanted to comfort her. She left the room and they gave him a sedative to calm him down then brought her back in. She was with him while he was calm and in no pain then they gave him the final sleep shot. He didn’t know he’d never wake up. He just went with the sleepy feeling that it was time for a nap.
He left without pain and with his beloved person holding him. Seemed a very nice way to go.
DNR makes you the lowest priority
I wish my dad had that option. He died choking on his own blood because the doctors didn’t intubate him fast enough. That’s what the DNR (Do not resuscitate) status buys you in the hospital – lowest priority. All he wanted for two months prior to that was to die peacefully and with loved ones. He couldn’t have what he wanted. But our dogs can. Doesn’t seem right somehow.
When I lost my dad I felt like a part of me had died too. Grief was a tangible object that I held in my hand all the time and couldn’t put down. Like a jagged rock. I wasn’t ready for him to leave. He wasn’t ready to go.
For a time I’d imagine that he’d gone on one of his business trips, or vacations and that he’d be home again one day. It was a way to make it through the day.
As the weeks and months went by I started to put my rock away in my pocket for little bits of time. I’d always put my hand in my pocket to feel the sharp edges. They were still there.
Grief was like that for me – a constant, ever present companion that hurt to think about. The ‘why’ question is so useless in this kind of situation. It’s hard to not keep asking it.
Even though I could not believe it would happen, I stopped putting my hand in my pocket so much. I always felt it at least once a day, usually more. Sometimes I forced myself to not feel that rock and not feel guilty about it.
Now, 15 years later my pocket is never empty, and that gives me comfort. I believe that it’s ok to carry that rock around. It’s edges are smoother now from all the handling and it’s become more of a comfort rock. Sometimes, it can still cause sharp pains. But that’s rarer now.
I appreciate and welcome these words written by Henry Scott Holland (27 January 1847 – 17 March 1918). He was a Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford: