Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all just died peacefully in our sleep?
Wouldn’t it ease our pain if we didn’t have to make life and death decisions?
Life is not like that, and neither is death.
In an earlier blog I introduced you to our dog Kuba who was nearing end of life.
Lately he has been struggling more and more. His legs are weaker, he can’t go up the stairs and he was making weird choking noises last week. We thought, “OK this is it. It’s time.”
Then he got a little better again. And we thought, “oh, maybe it’s not time.”
This stuff is hard on the heart and soul. I would feel sad then panic that we were thinking of putting him down for our convenience, that we were being selfish. It wasn’t his time.
Then Geordie would calmly reassure me, “We’ll be doing it for him.”
But Kuba is still with us… for now. We are giving him all the love we can, extra, fun treats, telling him how much he means to us. We even made this crazy ramp to see if it would help him up the stairs.
The kids enjoyed playing on it, but Kuba wanted nothing to do with it.
We tried. And that is all we can do. That is all any of us can do…
try our very best in life and at the end of life.
And that is good enough.
Have you ever loved a pet till the end, then had to let him go?
We discussed showing up for people when they are grieving, struggling, dying, when it’s uncomfortable. Such an important part of living well and dying well. But there is a critical piece that so many of us are not good at. It’s the piece that will make is so much easier for you to be able to show up for people.
So here’s the other secret. Are you ready?? You must…
Show Up for Yourself FIRST!
Show up for yourself first. If you want to take good care of others, the best thing you can do is to bring the best version of yourself to the table. It’s being a great example of how important self-care is. It’s putting your own health and needs at the top of your priority list. You must be an excellent self-care giver in order to give your best to others. And teach them to do the same. “I don’t have time!” This is the #1 excuse for not taking good care of ourselves. Well, then guess what; You may just be setting yourself up for excessive suffering. Because when you don’t take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially, eventually something gives.
I tried to be a hero when our twins were a couple of months old. We had company so I stayed up late, being Superwoman, I ignored my fatigue and guess what? I collapsed and ended up in the hospital.
Here’s another critical piece: if we take care of ourselves, then others won’t have to take care of us.
And if we do get sick, but we’ve done our best, we won’t feel so badly when others have to take care of us!!
Something to really think about.If you do not have time for great self-care, then perhaps it’s time
to really have a look at the life that you have created.
Because we always have choices. We may not always have the choices we wish we had, but we always have choices. I’ve had to make some very tough choices in my life. I was a single parent, I’ve severed relationships that were toxic, I’ve moved so many times I’ve lost count. But I had to make these choices in my life, to create the life I wanted, I needed. I had no idea what it would look like,
I just knew I was suffering and needed change.
If you sit still, and ask yourself, without thinking, on a scale of 1 to 10...
"How happy am I, the majority of the time?" What would the answer be? And if the number is not 7
or above…is that good enough?
Give yourself time to rejuvenate. You are worth it.
On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you, most of the time?
If you don’t like your number,
what can you do to change that?
We need time for introspection, we need one on one time with loved ones and we need time to dance!
For the Heaths…the water calls!
What to do When Someone is Grieving
“I don’t know what to say.” “I don’t know what to do.” “It’s so uncomfortable.”
Have you ever heard anyone say this or have you said it yourself?
When we are faced with someone who is grieving, deeply sad, depressed, crying… we just want to run away because we don’t know what to say or do. And yes, it’s uncomfortable. Imagine how it is for them.
Want to know the secret? The best thing to do? Lead with your heart and…
Just Show Up!! Just Show Up! Be Present.
There are no magic words, you can’t fix it and yes it’s uncomfortable. Show up anyway. You can tell someone you don’t know what to do or say but you care and you are there for them. Send a text, an email, a hug, or show up at the visitation when their loved one died. Buy them a coffee.
If they are crying, hand them a tissue. Be willing to sit in the sadness with them. A few kind words can make all the difference for someone in despair. Words are healing. Love is always the answer. Yes it is easier said than done. All of this is. You don’t have to do anything spectacular. Just be OK with being there, not trying to fix it, not trying to be brilliant, just be.
Here’s another great way to “Just Show Up”. Think of all the mundane tasks of life that still need to be taken care of, even when someone doesn’t have the strength to do them. How about walking their dog? Cutting their grass, taking out their garbage, getting a few items at the store for them? Call in neighbours, family, friends or volunteers to help. It takes a village…
We need to empower compassionate communities, by being there for one another.
How do we get better at this? Practice.
Lead with your heart, and Just Show Up.
Can you think of other ways we can “Just Show Up”
for the grieving, for the lonely, for someone who could use a kind word?
Finding Your Post.
You may question what you were – or were not – taught growing up.
You may not feel that having or choosing your spiritual path is a task worthy of your time or even necessary. After all, you already have enough to do every day, without adding one more thing.
The difficulty with not discovering your beliefs is when loss, death and grief arrive you have nothing to guide you through this turbulent time.
And grief is coming.
My 103-year-old friend Minnie felt she didn’t have much wisdom to offer when it came being prepared and grief and death. She was so wrong. When we discussed our death-phobic society and I asked what we might be missing, she looked at me with her generous smile and gentle blue eyes and said,
“We all need some sort of post, something inside to hang onto.”
And there it was: the piece I was looking for.
Minnie was right. We all need something internally to hang onto when everything else is falling apart. It has to be something within, not a person, not your status, a pet or thing.
It has to be something that you can hang onto no matter what.
The most important thing you can do to prepare for losses and challenges is to find your post –
your religion, your spirituality, yoga, music, painting, nature – or whatever it may be.
Something you can always count on.
Your Post: that internal something that you can hang onto
– no matter what –
in times of despair.
Find Your Post. And Hold Onto It.
My Post: Nature. What’s Yours?
Yvonne Heath is Canada's Proactive Living Consultant. She is a Speaker, Television Host, Award Winning Author
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