Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thinking about death

I'm too tired to reiterate what I wrote on my mundane blog so if you want to know the back story, go there.  Knitting with my shoes off.  It's on the sidebar.  But today was a bit of a test of sorts.  It's the first time, post-Christian, that I dealt with end of life issues.  My feelings about death have changed a lot in the last 10 years since losing my faith.  I don't fear it so much but I do feel the pain of those left behind.  Mine as well. 

So who did I turn to for comfort this morning after my father's phone call discussing my mother's end of life issues?  No one.  There were gods I could think of but I just didn't feel the need to cry on any deity's shoulder just now.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe next week.  Maybe never.  I just dealt with the pain myself.  I did offer up a prayer to Eir for the easing of my mother's discomfort.  I thought about talking to Persephone but that's a bit premature.  I keep in touch with her from time to time so I wouldn't be adverse to talking to her, but as I said...a bit premature.

Not once did I think about going back to Yahweh and beg for healing for my mother.  It's what you learn as a Christian, to beg him to heal your loved ones, perform miracles and extend their lives as if that's the best possible outcome.  As if life is always the better place to be.  I know what my mother's beliefs are and what she is certain of in the afterlife.  For her it's a wonderful place and I hope she goes there.  I think she probably would choose life if she could have hers back.  The one where she was active, serving others in her church.  Busy with her garden and her backyard swing.  But she's dealing with dementia, loss of mobility with her legs refusing to obey her orders to walk.  She's locked into dialysis 3 days a week, four hours each day.  She calls it her job.  She's tired and she's weak.

So when my dad decided not to put her on a ventilator if it comes to that, I know he's doing this for her.  I know it's what she would prefer.  But I don't think it's my decision to make.  I think whatever he decided would be all right with me.  He knows her better than anyone does, having lived with her over 60 years.  Still, having us help in the decision making process does lift some of the responsibility off his shoulders. 

She may very well break through this pneumonia and have many more months to go.  But I think we're talking months and not years.  They found a mass on her kidney...the only one that has any function at all.  They'll biopsy it but what do they do with the results?  She's 80 years old, frail and tired.

I don't know what I think about the afterlife.  I lean toward reincarnation but doubt we carry over any knowledge from our past lives.  In some ways that feels like oblivion since we probably don't carry any memories over after death.  Still, it's comforting to know that something in us lives on.  But even if there is nothing after death, I'm okay with that, too.  Because I spent to many years living my life for the next one instead of living this one.  I do try to do better about that but I'm tired and not in the best health so I tend to still think about the next life and put my energies there.  Too many years of conditioning, I suppose.

If there is a Valhalla or Asphodel Fields, then that's fine, too.  It's not like I can do anything about it now.  I'm not living my life for some kind of renown.  I just want to enjoy my life, help others and possibly enjoy some peace.

On the other hand, I've still got a lot left I want to do so I'm in no hurry to find out what the answer is.  I look forward to walking this path, growing closer to the gods, forming friendships with others on their paths.  I love that they didn't push me to confide in them, or lean on them, or turn to them for answers.  I loved being treated like an adult.  I loved that they understood I needed this time to make my own choices and feel the emotions I needed to feel.  And I look forward to more of that.  It's an exhilarating experience.

So I do hope the best for my mother but I am realistic about it all, too.  Death is just another part of the journey.  Doesn't mean I didn't cry this morning when my dad called.  I am human, after all.


  1. I'm so sorry Kathy. This is the second blog I've read this morning dealing with death of a loved one. I have seen my fair share of death and can empathize. You've been reading me long enough to know that my mom died when I was 24, my dad (asshole) when I was 31 and my sister just 2 years ago. Each death hit me differently and I hope that you do find peace in whatever outcome is for your mom. No one should have to suffer.


  2. Thanks, DG. We haven't faced a lot of loss in our family. Grandparents, an uncle and an aunt from either side of the family but no real tragedies. It's taking its toll on me, especially when I get the "you should go down there" crap from people who won't try to understand our circumstances. I think my sisters finally get it but others who have the financial means to just go when they need to don't understand not wanting to further bankrupt the family with a trip that will cost at minimum $200. Especially when I have to take $300 out of savings in a couple of weeks to pay a bill we can't afford to pay otherwise...because we're making $400 less a month. It doesn't compute to an either/or situation for them.

    I hate the thought of losing my mother but I don't feel guilty that I can't be there now. We still talk on the phone. Why does face to face contact make or break the deal?