DEATH, DYING, AND GRIEF (2)
Humanizing our Life
We are created in God’s image. This tells us that God has a purpose for all of humankind. To be fully human is really to discover who I am. And who am I? I'm a member of the huge human family where we're all brothers and sisters wherever we come from, whatever our culture or color, whatever our religion. We were born in weakness. We will grow. And we will die. So the story of each one of us is a story of accepting that we are fragile.
Our last blog ended “could not a healthy wrestling with our own mortality lead us along to road to a more human understanding of life and death?” By humanizing our attitudes toward death and dying we can also humanize our approaches to life and living. Perhaps our culture’s dehumanization of death is the result of our subhuman level of life. The one thing that impresses me most in the writings of those who have been able to humanly share their journey to death is their awareness of life. They know the meaning and preciousness of life. Nothing is any longer taken for granted – not family, friends, not flowers or the sky or poetry. There is in the awareness of death the awareness of life. False values begin to fade, illusions are discarded, pretensions are abandoned, and life is accepted and joined.
To humanize our attitudes toward death, therefore, is not to deny it, or reduce it to pornography, or glorify it, or hide it. It is somehow to wrestle with it, to come to human terms as best as we can with it with all our human emotions. The acceptance that there is a conclusion to life can become the commencement to living. We often speak of death as being universal – we all die- but that must not cloud the fact that it is really individual. The words of John Donne, English poet and cleric, seem apropos:
No man is an island, entire of itself: every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main: if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind: and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.
How we first learn about death follows us through life. So any study and exploration of death and dying should begin with us. To enjoy life, to live a fuller more meaningful life, requires that we accept our mortality.
So, what were your first encounters with death? What are your fears, doubts, concerns, anxieties, hopes, questions about death? How did you first learn to have these thoughts, values, beliefs, and attitudes about death?
The challenge to examine issues surrounding death are:
· You will seriously examine your relationship with God.
· You will have a more effective life.
· You will better be able to plan your future.
· You will be able to complete a will.
· You will be able to make a decision about being an organ donor.
· You will discuss with your significant other issues of your funeral.
In other words you will become better able to engage in the business of living. Carpe diem.
*Discover GriefShare if you are experiencing a death in your life of a significant other.