My husband and I had a robust conversation the other day after his recovery from the common cold.
We discussed the differences he and I have and men in women in general in regards to physical suffering. My husband of 36 years is more the vocal complainer where I like to skulk and suffer in silence.
We talked about how each sickness, injury or mental assault could be used as a trial run in preparing for our Death. What would that look like and would it help us be more prepared and less anxious for death?
We experimented. We started using each ailment or twinge of pain to prompt us to use the dying metaphor as we went about our day. To hold on to the thought that we were dying could only be sustained for a few minutes before it became too uncomfortable to endure.
I thought of my patients. What about those who truly do live throughout their day with the constant reminders of their disease by experiencing constant pain or retching coughs? How do they endure? How do they live each day as if it is their last and may well be?
As a child, I was terrified of death. It was often in the twilight hours, between the moment of lying down and drifting off to sleep, that the terror would arise. The thought of vanishing completely from the world and never being part of it again would seize and engulf my very being. Religion and spirituality were of little or no solace. Even to my young mind, they struck me as fantasies as they do for most of my patients.
That terrified feeling came back as I practiced the presence of Dying. It was as if I was 6 years old again experiencing the possibility of becoming nothingness. But behind that thought is another thought that gives me some comfort…at least we will be nothingness together.