June 14, 2004

Taking Life's Final Exit - It is common for people in the last stages of life, the bedridden and the dying - to talk of taking a journey, meeting with people, or being in a preparatory stage of transit. What does this mean, for us, our loved ones, and consciousness? [LA Times link - reg. required - use buttafucco/demanteca as login/pass or check out the Yahoo News version of the story]
  • Maybe a replaying of the road not taken. The preparation for the... journey? transition? conclusion? Whatever the case, when in that situation, say everything you always wanted to. State the obvious. Remember the good times. Death is the end of communication, and it hurts.
  • Nice link, Dame.
  • Oddly touching, that. Perhaps it's because I'd like to believe that it's not related to some kind of near-death dementia. I think that's exactly how I want to think of it when it's my time to go: just taking a trip, one last adventure.
  • Thanks Nostrildamus. This is really cool. My husband's great aunt died a few years ago. She was a splendid person, and lived a long, interesting life. At the end when her family had gathered to say goodbye, she said, "Everyone be quiet now. I have to concentrate." And then she died. She was a classy woman.
  • There's a woman at my aunt's nursing home that keeps asking the staff for her bus ticket. She's under the impression that her family has left her at the station and she needs to find her bus and leave. After reading this article, I realize it's a metaphor. Amazing how the aging brain works. Thank you, Nostrildamus.
  • Does anyone remember the PBS series on dying that was broadcast in the 1980s? It may have been based on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's work. It was scary to watch, for someone like me with a fear of dead things (as opposed to death), but it was so touching. The scene I remember best was between a young male volunteer and an old woman who was on her way out. She asked him to kiss her, which he did, maybe thinking it would be a pack on the lips, but she grabbed is face and really kissed him. I couldn't help but think that she'd been in some sort of institution for a long time, and just really needed a little touch.
  • "peck."
  • Mickey: I worked for a short time at an assisted living facility and there was an elderly woman there who was convinced that her dead husband was on his way to pick her up. Every night she would get dressed and put all of her things by the door, convinced that this would be the night he finally arrived.
  • /lump in throat
  • Many Bananas and Pop Tarts and banana-flavored Pop Tarts to the nasal prognosticator...
  • >>for someone like me with a fear of dead things i volunteered in the intensive care unit of george washington university hospital here in d.c. -- that's where reagan went after he was shot, ashcroft had his surgery, etc. anyway, i did a little of everything, including preparing bodies for the morgue. i'd never been in contact with a dead body before, ever. i was curious just to see how i'd react. i found it a very moving experience, actually. i was acutely aware that i was among the final persons to ever physically touch this human. the bodies are cold, but not particularly so. there's a post-mortem kit that includes strings to tie their hands and feet (to keep them on the gurney), a bag to zip them in, several tags to tie on their toe, their hand, any belongings (such as a bible) going with them to the morgue. it's a very quiet task. i felt honored to do it. and it made me realize that i'm not at all afraid of death or dead bodies. and of that, i'm glad. i think every human needs to face death and accept it. it's a basic task of being alive. and i think it's one many people shirk.