More on Dying

Tonight my husband cast this up on our monitor/TV. “This was my colleague.”

A couple who worked in palliative care used social media to share their experiences after one of them received a terminal diagnosis. It was later featured on The NewYorker.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-documentary/what-is-it-like-to-be-dying

Watching with him the face of dying threw me back to watching my Dad. The way they both, Kathy Brandt and my dad, smiled up with tight faces, skin pulled over bones. So much love there. Dad would smile and I heard him say in it, “I love you Sana. Will you still love me while I die?” There is an insecurity I imagine in that process of saying goodbye.

Then when Kathy Brandt apologized to her audience for her condition. Her “weakness” was something to say sorry about. We also apologize for our weaknesses; for things we had nothing to do with other than that we are the carrier of some biology gone bad – major depressive disorder, cancer, alopecia… Name it. It will take you a while to cover all the things that we apologize for that describe our humanity more than they describe our fault.

Maybe we apologize rather, not in shame, but in empathy toward our listeners. There is a consideration of what our defect imposes on them. That could be. But I wonder what would happen if we didn’t apologize. Instead, allow the others to let our flawed selves just hang out there in the space between us, bringing them into a greater awareness of what we are going through. “Hello. There is no brush off here. Rather come be in my suffering and we will commune. You and me.”

There was no mention of God, what happens after death, or the meaning of life. I don’t know what they believed. They seemed like they just wanted to share the basic experience, the breathing, (…my dad rattled again in my mind when I heard that,) the changing face and body, the personality coming through, the relationships affected and so forth. This gives us space to be there with them, without doctrines setting up lines and corners we have to navigate. Not so bad. I appreciate them.

Speak: Let us know what you think of this documentary. Give us your adjectives. What notes does it hit for you; the resonance you hear and where you find your community. Speak!

Selfcare tip: Allow yourself not to apologize.

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