Found an Interesting Book

I found an interesting book about a week ago, Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley.

I know I have encountered a good book when it connects dots in new ways and makes me think, “Huh. Never thought of it that way before.” These women are hospice nurses. They know what they are talking about.

It is all about Near Death Awareness, not Near Death Experiences (like being resuscitated during surgery or car crashes or another sudden drama/trauma). It is all about the gradual awareness people have when they start to know they are going to pass.

The book is chock full of examples of attempts of dying people to communicate with family and loved ones. People use language that is familiar. One example had a dying man using a football illustration to show he was going to die before noon on Sunday to his football-obsessed family. Another example was of a dying diplomat struggling to find his passport. He was speaking the language of travel. To another dimension, but still departing soon.

The book shows how to ask the right questions to help interpret their coded messages. Dying people often speak symbolically and, like dreams, those symbols are often only meaningful to the speaker/dreamer.

The main problem is that the dying person is often over-medicated and the natural assumption of family and friends is that the dying one is confused, delirious, or suffering from dementia. Sometimes these conditions are true and need to be dealt with, but sometimes not.

This information comes at a good time for me and Barry. The Huntington’s is causing him to slur his words and I don’t always understand him. Now I know how he might communicate with me. He might talk in WWII military language or some form of hippie-speak.

Of course, there was the assumption that the dying person’s denial needs to be respected. That’s why I don’t think I could ever be a hospice anything. I don’t have any respect for denial as a coping mechanism. As a phase of the grieving process, denial is inevitable. As a coping strategy, denial is always dysfunctional. If the person is still in the “stage” of denial a year after a terminal diagnosis, an intervention may be in order, in my opinion. “Respecting” the person’s denial at that point is nothing but enabling they dying person to not deal with reality and places all the burden of dealing with reality on the family members. That is not okay from my perspective, ever. Enabling is not compassionate, in death or addiction. Speaking as the perpetual caregiver, Barry’s inability to understand things is bad enough, but understandable. But I am done tolerating straight-up denial. You see, I have to function for two. I am not given the option of living in a fantasy world and I will not ever “respect” anyone’s insistence that I live in theirs. Love is stronger than death, but denial is not a respectable means of coping with the inevitable we all must face at some point.

My perspective is that we all have three things: time, money, and energy. We are all exchanging them for each other by eating convenience food or borrowing money or whatever. The most precious variable by far is time. Denial robs us of time to make things right, tie up loose ends, and finish unfinished business. Time we can never get back. Oops, too late now.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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