As I reflect on the “last third” of my life, I also reflect on dying well. There are those we leave behind, and the grief to walk through is deep and long lasting. When I was in my 20s I served as a part time chaplain for hospice care. I came home most nights talking to my wife about death and dying. She thought I was a little morbid.
Over the years I have touched death in different ways. The latest being my Dad, which is also the closest to “home” it’s been in my life.
THIS beautiful reflection is full of heartache and mourning. It is a lament. It is a also a way of healing.
The road of grief has no road map or timer.
That’s how I’ve found my grief journey to be: picking through the weeds, bushwhacking through the forest, hunting for signs I was headed in the right direction and trying to learn this new terrain of sorrow. Grief has been a painful education. I’ve had to learn as I go, fumbling and trembling along the way.
The point of the article, however, is not just about the darkness of grief. It is a plea to learn to walk in grief. Let’s not allow death to be so completely private.
In the six months before my Dad died, I was hit by grief through the death of others twice. I had those two experiences fully in my mind when I was going to see my Dad in the hospital, not knowing at that time he would not make it out of the hospital. The experience of those two deaths and the grief I touched traveled with me, though. They were companions showing me the way and preparing me for the days that would be in front of me.
There will be more grief ahead, to be sure. I just don’t want to hide it. I don’t want to have my grief tucked away in a corner. Should I get the choice, I don’t want my dying to be hidden, either. This is a necessary journey. Death is 100 percent successful these days. Let’s not hide from it. Walk this journey.