Thank you for the piece -wonderful, important, insightful, kindly put.
Certainly most harbor the safer world of ignoring the potential loss of those we hold dear. Most avoid the inevitable fact of the loss of a loved one right up to the end because the recognition of inevitable loss diminishes or ruins the moments we experience when that loss is not imminent.
To live recognizing we will lose the ones we love is a debilitating understanding of reality, and for we humans, this state of ordained death awareness is no way to live. This state is almost impossible to deny and ignore after a bad diagnosis or on the march to the end. To exist at all times in such awareness would be a constant, protracted suffering-pain at a low burn level, distracting, at least, and robbing us of many pure moments of joy. The loving caretaker substitutes selfless care and compassion for the feelings of helplessness and inevitability of loss and has a chance of giving the dying individual a better chance of feeling life and love right up through the end.
In general, we naturally revel in the “immortality of youth”, the young person or pet, and even if later we pine for the days when, for instance, the pet romped or played, or ran with us, we still extract the joy of their presence at any age and diminishment. Holding that dying cat or dog, that dear member of your life, as they slip away is the clear proof that the exuberance of youth and movement has nothing to do with the real bond of care and selflessness on both sides of the heart fence.
Yes, the understanding that there will be unfathomable loss, causes the fear of, and the pangs of, pain. We call that “suffering”, before and after a loss. In truth, the pain must surely be many things coalescing in one clear moment, death. If one can think it at the end, it can cause pain, and perhaps because we hold onto such hope of just another moment and helpless denial of the end right up to the end, our pain is accumulated, over years, to be released at once, when the rubicon is breached in passing.
When we die, we collide with the understanding that the everyday is no longer relevant or an option -breath is unnecessary, time is meaningless and our actions are no longer needed or effective –all clearly so, like no other time. Finality has its lessons for our being, and those lessons can be very painful, indeed.
We put a loved one first, and now they do not need us. We feel helpless, as they go. Rationalizing they are in a great place after death is wonderful but the pure pain of knowing all just changed forever for a loved one, is singularly stunning. In stead of looking at that severest of human experiences as suffering only, it may be that suffering is only one symptom of the larger and more beautiful gift of finally, if only for one transitional, transformational moment, feeling all the worry of loss, from the day you met your loved one, and which accumulated unrecognized in our souls, released, never to be used again for this dear part of our lives. Loss is a terrible thing but loss of the worry of loss is a beautiful thing, and perhaps is such a unique and precious gift that the loved one’s passing gives to us.
For the average human, it is probably never a choice between “safe and suffering”. Our evolved minds have developed to simply ignore the vulnerabilities in life; so, we can have a chance to function with the possibility of joy in life at all. Even so, most people do not often experience the joy of any part of life for long, or at all. The loss of a deeply loved person or pet is clearly one of those joyous moments being celebrated in reverse. Euphoria is replaced by throbbing pain and the compression of time. Yet, the intensity and the heart involved is perhaps the purest form of joy there is. It is of course a reflected joy, masked by the suffering pain, and if we are lucky, recognizable later as the true illustration that the loved individual gave us great, indefinable joy right up through passing.
What we deny can catch up to us, and usually does in death. The wonder of it all is that extraordinary bonds, whose vulnerabilities are denied all our lives so we do not drive ourselves crazy, revisit us in a rush at a loved one’s passing. What we traditionally fear and observe as the resultant suffering, is really the strength of those bonds, not their loss, as we feel them intensely being bound together forever. It is real pain but built on the real joy received for the privilege and luck to have found each other in life and passing –both we tragically feel in the end. There is perhaps no greater joy than this intensity at the end of a loved one’s life but also, ironically, no more misunderstood part of our hearts and souls, as they struggle to with having no control over the next step in the relationship.
In passing, I am personally as certain that the dying loved one feels the comfort of persistent love as much as they silently acknowledge the thankfulness that caring never stops with condition and that in the end they were never worried about being abandoned. Love and joy are incomprehensible in the end. We feel pain but the intensity is still love and joy. That is the wonder and the kicker of the death of a loved one.