Can we allow two separate and apparently opposite truths to co-exist? And talk about it?
Here’s my favorite! I AM LIVING AND I AM DYING. Nearing my eighties, the enriching co-existence of these two realities is what I am choosing for myself, and promoting for others. The way I see it, we can “live” fully until our very last breath. And, day after day, we can notice and accommodate our declining capacities. Living and dying are two co-existing realities.
Unfortunately, many are unwilling to give any attention to the dying part. They assume we have no say in our “dying”. They fear that spending time contemplating the necessary choices in order to die without regrets will contaminate the possibility for full throated living.
Denial and avoidance? Do so at your own risk.
When we reach 55, if not before, it becomes pretty clear that we have already lived more years than we have left to live. We are in fact, inhabiting our “remaining years”. I become sad when I encounter those who are visibly terror stricken when invited to contemplate their own end of life. Personally, I find it comforting to take time to review my purpose and the many possibilities for the years that remain to me. I want a good life, AND a good death. AND I want to be conscious as I fulfill my intentions for both. Guarantees? Of course not!
The peaceful life that I envision for my last 10 or 12 or however many years, includes being happy with my life, AND, preparing not to leave a mess for those who survive me. That latter one requires some heartfelt conversations with self and with siblings and friends. At the very least, everyone over 18 must have a health care proxy who can advocate for their wishes in case they cannot. That particular essential does not require a lawyer, but it does require making it happen with those you trust.
I’m absolutely committed to doing more of what I love to do, and routinely evaluating how that’s going. Relationships and interests and activities, once sources of delight, do run their course. And there’s no blame or shame in releasing what no longer contributes to happiness. New friendships and activities arrive when space opens for them. Usually most miraculously.
I’m also absolutely committed to leave no mess for my survivors. As a “solo ager” with no spouse, no children and no family caretaker in the line-up, I feel all the more compelled to plan and tie up my loose ends because…. who else will do it?
Do I actually want to die? Some days “yes” and and some days “no”. Now 78, I have to admit that tears often accompany the tedium of putting my affairs in order, most recently distributing my jewelry. AND, accomplishing the tasks which fulfill my own wishes to leave no mess behind, also gives me great peace.
I am coming and I am going all at the same time.
I admit it. Very simply, my own intentions to allow the joy of living to co-exist with proactive anticipation of my death is compelling. And it is enriching my remaining days.
Jump into this paradox and have some fun! Let these years be the very best time of your life.