By Sharon Courmousis
September 21, 2011 (Boulevard, California)--A dear friend lies in hospice for her final days on earth; it is sad, so sad. And not fair. It is incomprehensible, from our perspective. We mouth all the platitudes such as “I cannot imagine what it would feel like to lose my mother” or “I feel for you” and other kind words. We really cannot imagine the feelings until it happens to us, and it will.
Do you believe this quote?
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Teilhard de Chardin, priest, philosopher, geologist, mystic 1881-1995
Do you think of yourself as a spiritual being having a human experience?
So how will we cope with this awful event when it happens to us and/or those we love? Here is a suggested strategy: Denial. Yep, just pretend it will never happen to you or your loved ones. There is an old saying, ‘ignore it and it will go away’ that applies here, don’t you agree? Or, ‘you just need to practice ‘mind over matter’. Or ‘ignorance is bliss’. The basic problem is that important decisions must be made at the time of one’s deepest emotional anguish and they can be extremely costly. However, with proper planning, they can be avoided.
Another strategy might be to recognize it will happen, and purchase final arrangements well in advance, get the contract and put it in the bank safety deposit box or an office drawer. Unfortunately, I have met some seniors who have this all taken care of but have not informed their children. Their idea is take care of the details but keep it a secret (I still haven’t figured out why they do this). Obviously, the risk is that the arrangements may not be discovered until well after the funeral, thus wasting the funds used for pre-purchase. If you use this pre-purchase strategy, tell the children!
I have been accused of having a quirky mind; I admit it. I am probably the only one of all the people I know who would actually buy and read a book called Grave Expectations by Sue Bailey and Carmen Flowers. It teaches readers how to create, in advance, exactly the way you want your last party. The whole idea is to think and to plan what you want people to take away from your rite of passage; it is your final statement of who you are. If you have a chance to read this, you will realize there are some very strange people in the business of final disposition. The bottom line is that your event can be something like a play that you write and direct. You can be as conservative or as outlandish as you wish if you have the funds for it. Did you know that you can even have your body made into a diamond for your loved one to wear?
This may seem strange, but I find that spending time in nature is a coping strategy. I see the cycles of life very clearly from the birth to the death of birds, rabbits, squirrels, and mice. The seasons bring germination, flowering, fading and collapse of flowers, grasses and shrubs. Disease is ravaging our oak trees and we cannot stop it, just as some diseases attack us. The unexpected wildflower bursts into an amazing red-yellow, orange or purple. If we have eyes to see, surprising delights are all around us. Chaparral grows again after a fire, showing us how we can be resilient. It has been called the great mystery of life. We can feel soothed and comforted because there is a sense of order and reason. Death will happen. It is a fact of life!
Two themes are intertwined here, one is planning on final disposition but the other may need to come first. The second theme is acceptance.
So how are we to cope with our own mortality; the answer is simple but not easy.
The famous and wise King Solomon studied the ways of human beings for years, and states in Ecclesiastes 8:15 “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” Therefore, I conclude after all this thinking, it is vital to:
1. Savor each day as a gift
2. Come to peace with your Creator
3. Decide to eat, drink and be merry
4. Seek to understand your part of the great mystery of life
5. Make a plan for your final party
The strategy that I have not covered yet has come from personal studying, thinking and faith; I call this the strategy of praying. I find that as I pray, my eyes are not on the here and now but on our Creator and His plans for something which is unimaginably better. I may not always agree with Him, but I trust that He knows what He is doing.
One day, during a conversation with my 15-l/2 year old son, the subject of 2012 being the end of the world was discussed. I asked him if he would be ready if the world should end now. After a brief pause, he said “yes. But I want to get my drivers’ license first”. Ha! I bet each of us has something we want to do first. I don’t believe the world is going to end in 2012, however, it may be sooner than we think. I hope you are doing the things you want to do ‘first’.
I have thought and thought and have decided how I want to die; my granny showed me the way. She had congestive heart failure and during her last day in the hospital, she was breathing loudly, opened her eyes wide, looked straight at me and said “If I’m going to die, I wish I’d hurry up and get it over with!” Every one of us in her room burst out laughing, and she did too, and then slipped away. That is exactly what I choose – to die laughing. What about you?
The Purple Mountain Sage welcomes questions from readers! Write to us at:
The Purple Mountain Sage is Sharon Courmousis, co-owner of Sacred Rocks Reserve and RV Park, a 163-acre wilderness preserve and campground in Boulevard, CA, which is also home to Sacred Rocks Artists’ Colony. She leads people on personal journeys that transform their lives. Sharon can be reached by calling: 619-766-4480. Visit the Sacred Rocks Reserve website at: