End of Life

roses“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” ~ John F. Kennedy

My Australian friend, retired nurse and author, Maureen Helen from ‘How to be Eighty, recently wrote an article about the preparations she had made for the end of her life, her Advanced Health Directive; such a very brave step to take and it has given me much to think about. Do visit Maureen and read her post, you will receive a warm welcome

Every life and every death is different, and I asked myself if I would be brave enough to do the same as Maureen. It set me on a melancholy path as I began thinking about the loved ones I have lost, and I commented on Maureen’s article with something not too dissimilar.

I didn’t give much thought to my own death until my husband died. He battled cancer for two years, suffered chemotherapy, and painful surgery, but he chose to look on the bright side, and his glass was always half full.

Shortly before his death he began to feel unwell and was admitted to hospital for further tests. A day or so later, on his 68th birthday we were told his cancer had returned and had spread into other areas of his body, he was given an estimate of two to three months to live. He joked he would have to go home first because he hadn’t finished his crossword.

He never did come home, and less than two weeks later, he died. His unfinished crossword still at the side of our bed exactly where he had left it.

I think I aged overnight it made me realise that death has no scruples and can take any of us at any time. I felt vulnerable and was certain I wouldn’t live to be a ‘good age’ either.

Today, six years on, I take life as it comes, what will be will be.

At the age of eighty-seven, my dad suffered a third stroke, his speech had gone, and he was unable to walk. Mum and I visited him daily in the hospital, and each time he took my hand, the tears ran down his face.

He died a month later from pneumonia. I wondered whether the hospital had treated his pneumonia, but l didn’t ask. I have no idea what he would have wanted, but I do know that the last month of his life must have been dreadful for him.

At eighty-one, my mum was suffering from lung disease, the outcome of an industrial past. She needed twenty-four-hour oxygen, and could no longer walk more than a few feet, she used a commode instead of the toilet and could do little for herself.

We turned the dining room into a bedroom and Mum came to live with us, neither she nor I would have wanted it any other way.  I cut down my working hours, and the care assistants helped out during the mornings when I was at work. My daughters also popped in and out.

On one of the occasions when she was admitted to hospital, she was asked, “If your heart gives out do you want us to resuscitate?” She was horrified at this, life was such a struggle for her, but she wasn’t ready to give up on it.

The lung disease eventually ravaged her and she died in hospital three months after moving in with us. She turned to the nurse who was helping her to bed from her chair and said: “Oh, I do feel cold”. Minutes later she died peacefully while holding my hand and only a minute or so after I arrived at her side.

I’m uncertain whether I could be as brave as Maureen and make my end of life plans, whatever decision I make now, will I feel the same when the time comes? On the other hand, would I be capable of such thoughts, will I be of sound mind, will my life have a quality?

So far, my only instructions to my children are that they scatter my ashes here in the fields while playing Country Roads, Olivia’s version, and sing along very loudly!

I also reminded them to close all the windows as it gets very windy up here at our place😂

(C) SueW-nansfarm.net 2019 Linked to Peaceful from Weekly Prompts and Welcome from Fandango

24 thoughts on “End of Life

  1. We paid for our funerals a long time ago, have had Powers of Attorney drawn up for both finances and care, and written wills. I have also made a Dementia Care will, basically a list of what I would wish to happen, including wanting to be taken outside every day to experience the weather, including rain. We have both made notes about our funerals, although I am seriously considering donating my body to the nearest teaching hospital. I do not find the subject of death depressing at all and am always willing to discuss it with anyone who wishes to do so (more that you would imagine!) Here’s to life, and death.
    The closed windows made me smile. I remember, with a large smile, having inhaled some of Mum’s ashes. It seemed, somehow, appropriate!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Remember Graham’s words? Always leave em laughing! Couldn’t leave this post on a sad note.

      Oh, dear, and I thought I was joking, I’d best tell them to check the wind direction too.
      Maureen gave thought to Dementia in her health directive too. Thank you for your comments Peter and as always they are appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, such a thought provoking post as always, Sue. I can relate to a lot of this in my own life and as I get older, I have thoughts about the end. I always put off things like pre-arranging my own funeral plans and think to myself that I’ll deal with it another day. It’s almost like coming to the end of a great holiday. You don’t really want to come home after such a good time, but you have to. Let’s hope the journey is a good one.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Murphy's Law

    You will get a lot of folks thinking about this subject Sue. My husband is 80, I will be 80 in October. We made a will when we were in our 50’s, and then filled out our Care Directives when we were in our 60’s. Our oldest daughter agreed to be the agent/attorney-in-fact for each of us. Nothing has changed in all these years. But it might for some folks, so they make whatever changes they need to.

    We wish for our cremains to be scattered. We don’t want a funeral service or a memorial service. We plan to just leave as quietly as we arrived. Well, maybe a bit quieter!

    Dying and death is as much a part of life as living. Death doesn’t bother me. But what my dying process will be like is a bit unsettling. What will be, will be.

    But I will add a postscript for my daughters to check which way the wind is blowing!! Lol.

    I’m going to check out your friends post now.

    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We made our wills when in our twenties, but added a couple of things since then.
      I don’t like the idea of leaving but I’m not frightened of it. I’m more afraid of not being able to see. I haven’t planned a funeral service because my children know me well, they will take me to the village church for a simple service and send me off with hymns that they know are my favourites. Strong rousing ones that will make people happy to sing. They already know all this without instructions.
      I agree The process of dying is unsettling. Thank you Ginger 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Some sobering thoughts for one like myself who has two varieties of cancer. However, I keep planning for full recovery at the moment; I have responsibilities to carry out before I shuffle off the mortal coil, and they involve a good few years and staying fit during that time.
    Actually, come to think of it, I would hate to shuffle off. When I have to leave, I would prefer it to be in a jump!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You have sprung back so quickly and your cancer was spotted early. I hope my article hasn’t upset you Les. I apologise, it was not my intention to cause distress.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Jump or shove ?
      Either will do me, I can’t see much point in hanging around unnecessarily.
      2 doses of cancer, 1 stroke and now the docs tell me that there’s something wrong with the ticker that keeps it all going,
      I’ve told him not to worry, at my age we’ll let nature take it’s course.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I’m glad you can; the War office can’t, wwhen I tell her I’ll probably be dead by christmas if she’s lucky, she want’s to know what she will do, I’ve suggested she rings the Uni to come pick up the corpse.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sorry about your husband. My father passed away in September 2016 after being bed ridden for seven months. He also had dementia. It was heart breaking to see the changes in him. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A very moving post and you have created some very thoughtful responses. My mother was clear she didn’t want to be kept alive to be a vegetable so I accepted the hospital’s decision to not resuscitate as she also had other heart complications. It is useful to talk to our nearest ones and especially our kids and to have some humour is great. As we are in Spain we have thought about funeral plans but need to act at some point as I think these plans can help those who are grieving to cope. I love the ashes blowing in the wind but yes, watch the windows!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your input here, it is appreciated. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, it must have been a very hard decision for all of you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Although she was not conscious she had wanted to go quickly and not suffer and so she did without the intervention of resuscitation which I am told is very stressful for the body and her heart was really too old for that. I think it was her time but she had a great love for life too. Thanks for your post and offering us as families to talk about these tough issues.

        Liked by 1 person

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