But before the funerals comes the dying and way people die today is not only physically painful but emotionally too. Gone is the normal way of departing surrounded by relatives most of whom will be younger than the dying person. Often it is parents burying their own adult sons and daughters. But the saddest thing is those who die alone, unsupported, even abandoned. They have a solitary struggle with their emotions.
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross taught us about dying. She said often people go through painful mental stages before they are ready to go. When they discover they have Cancer or AIDS or some other life ending illness the first thing they do is go into denial. ‘It is not true. The doctors will find a remedy. There is this treatment you can get in …’
When they realize it IS true they get angry. Angry with life, with others they can blame but often angry with God. It is a deep frustration to feel my life is to be cut off. I will no longer be able to fulfill my plans, see my children grow – to say nothing of my grandchildren. A way out of anger is to bargain. Again God comes into it at this third stage. ‘If I get better I will change my ways. I will do this and that.’
But soon real frustration sets in when it becomes clear this bargaining line is getting nowhere. This is the point where the anger can return and move into deep depression. This perhaps is the point where a person really needs to be accompanied for this must be the loneliest journey of all.
But, as we say, the greatest darkness is just before dawn. And this is the moment when the dying person can move into acceptance, peace and even happiness. We buried one of our priests today. He struggled for months and weeks with growing enfeeblement. Recently the doctor gave him a week to go. When someone called to see him some days ago Fr Willie said, ‘just three days to go!’
Post published in: News