“End of Life” can happen at any point in time, not just in old age, and signifies the last few months of remaining life. I have placed it in the “Winter” group as it requires the same process of slowing down, reflecting and releasing as old age does.
End of Life is the natural consequence of Life and there is no denying it. Different beliefs and religions explain death differently. Some describe it as being a natural part of life while others create a fear of it without offering any logical explanation. Nevertheless praying and adopting an attitude of thanksgiving has helped many in overcoming the grief and sadness that death is associated with.
Five Stages of Grief
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1969), who worked with the founders of hospice care, described in her theory of grief the process of an individual accepting their own death. She proposed five stages of grief in what became known as the Kübler-Ross model:
- Denial: People believe there must be some mistake. They pretend death isn’t happening, perhaps live life as if nothing is wrong, or even tell people things are fine. Underneath this facade, however, is a great deal of fear and other emotions.
- Anger: After people start to realize death is imminent, they become angry. They believe life is unfair and usually blame others (such as a higher power or doctors) for the state of being they are experiencing.
- Bargaining: Once anger subsides, fear sets in again. Now, however, people plead with life or a higher power to give them more time, to let them accomplish just one more goal, or for some other request.
- Depression: The realization that death is near sets in, and people become extremely sad. They may isolate themselves, contemplate suicide, or otherwise refuse to live life. Motivation is gone and the will to live disappears.
- Acceptance: People realize that all forms of life, including the self, come to an end, and they accept that life is ending. They make peace with others around them, and they make the most of the time they have remaining.
Persons whose loving ones are dying may even go through the same stages themselves. But, while most individuals experience these stages, not all people necessarily go through each and every stage.
It is important to be able to talk about End of Life and about End of Life preferences with someone you care as part of the closure and acceptance process. Dr. Peter Saul summarizes the importance of this in a thought provoking Ted talk:
Top 5 regrets of the dying
Wouldn’t it be peaceful to look back at your life with satisfaction and without regrets? To disappoint you, unfortunately, this is seldom the case. Bronnie Ware, a nurse in palliative care, spent several years counselling the dying and accompanying them in the last days and weeks of their lives. She recorded the most common regrets she heard in her blog called Inspiration and Chai. Here are the top 5 regrets of the dying from her discussions:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I didn’t work so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Something to learn and live by for those of us in our healthy years!
In between the frequent visits to healthcare professionals, the decreasing energy levels and body fatigue, dying can be a time of increased personal growth and those who have time to prepare for End of Life may be able to review and examine their lives and prepare for death by making changes, finishing uncompleted tasks and saying their good byes.
“Ask ourselves in moments of fatigue whether slowing down may not be a message to attend to the moment to be with it…to taste it..to embrace it; a way of making us take time, finally, to tend to what’s here now” –Zalman Schachter–Shalomi
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
Kübler-Ross model from Wikipedia
Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying by Bonnie Ware
From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Revolutionary Approach to Growing Older by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi