If Ever I Would Leave You
I have been in love with life for the last 74 years. Yet, like many, I experienced great joy and unimaginable loss. Out of this and my advanced nursing background, my determination motivates me to be a light for others struggling with loss.
My style remains today. So dear hearts, I send forth no smoke and mirrors or signs of snake oil or magical potions but a sincere approach based upon the well-established theories and practices of many death educators and counselors who come before me. As a therapist, death and dying were my areas of expertise. As a result, I quickly learned that being present to extreme sadness was my superpower.
Diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer Stage IIIC, I learned I could expect four years of life with ongoing chemotherapy and immunotherapy. I have a highly skilled treatment team and feel blessed by support from amazing family and friends. But, as is my style, I want to be prepared and help others become prepared with me.
Attempting to be prepared
All of my forms and papers are up to date to support my healthcare and end-of-life decisions. I selected all the hymns and readings for my funeral service. Our minister is on board. Discussions have occurred, and copies of the legal paperwork are with our attorney and family.
I am unaware of any regrets or unfinished business as I painfully addressed my thoughts and feelings relatively soon after diagnosis.
A new awareness
Our group leader, who defined herself as a death doula, asked members where and how they wanted to die. Hmm.
How do I want to die?
My husband and I left the room confused and unsure since we found a new stone yet unturned. My immediate instinct will always be to protect my family. I assume my desire to protect also goes for the events in and around my dying. I would like it to be as easy on them as possible.
However, being at the bedside of many dying patients, I know it isn't always a time to wrap things up with pink bows. There may be a loss of body fluids or even a need for nursing interventions. The question remains whether I plan to live out my last moments surrounded by my beautiful family or do I do whatever one does to reserve space at our local hospice center.
About one thing I am confident - my hope to be able to say my meaningful goodbyes to everyone I love. I also hope my family members find the words to tell me the meaning we held for each other and thereby allow themselves to grieve.
My encouragement for all
I often think of a song from Camelot, " If Ever I Would Leave You." Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe majestically convince us there is no good season to leave the ones you love. It can't be spring, summer, fall, or winter. Yet when death comes, it determines the time and date.
So let us all take control of what we can. Be hopeful and active in your efforts to live your life. Address any regrets and unfinished business. Acknowledge place in the world. And at the same time, be prepared, speak your words of love and gratitude and prepare to leave in peace.
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