- Education and Science
The Cycle of Life and Death
Different Views from Different Age Groups
My mom died at age 78 from lung cancer. She had smoked since she was 17, it was only in the last two years of her life did she have any serious medical problems. Even four months before she died, her last medical exam revealed no abnormalities with her lungs. Yet, cancer had begun most likely a month later and quickly spread to her spine. She thought she had simply pulled a muscele like so many times before.
During one of her more lucid moments in hospice, has I held her hand bedside, she softly said, " I've had a good life". Then she closed her eyes and returned to her coma. Hours later, she returned with total clariity, as if nothing was ever wrong. She looked at me and smiled and said, "I'm so thirsty, is there any grape juice?" The nurse brought her a small glass and she sipped it savoring it as if it was gold. I watched her, holding back tears. She glanced at me and sighed. That night, across a creek in a nearby bar close to the hospice my mom was at, a rock band was blaring out dance music. The sound arrived through an open window. I thought to myself, how bizarre. Not more than 100 yards away, people in their prime are partying and having fun, yet I am watching a beloved person end. End forever. One day, everyone will have their final farewell.
The odd thing is that until that day arrives, we are all in denial even when faced with it. It is human nature to admit that there is The End, yet we qualify it by saying, "that happens to someone else, not me". We all know that The End can happen in a second with no warning, with one wrong move in certain circumstances, by pure accident or fluke, by a long illness that drags on and on and on, yet, we all deny it can happen to me. It only happens to other people.
Up until one is 30ish or so, there is a sense of invinciability, that life is a guarantee ordained by God, after all , life is a miracle, at least the process is. Up until that age, one is concerned with direction and goals set to achieve. Even if a teenager or budding actor suddenly dies, we say, "how horrible, such a young life wasted, they had all of their life ahead". Deep inside we acknowledge that death can happen at any time but honestly, we do not believe it, as we are too young and death happens to those much older because that is only fair.So the thinking goes.
For those who reach their goals in the 30s or 40s, the tendancy is to set a new goal and continue working your life away at the career chosen until 50s-60s. The most common goal is family. With a career going, or just working the job you have for so many years, one gets married has kids. Time does move faster with age, before you know it, the baby is now a teenager, you've been doing the same job, going through the same hoops daily for years. You suddenly find yourself asking, "where did the time go"? or you suddenly realize that a child you use to play with is now in High School or in college, or maybe starting their own career.
You look at your own life maybe feel something is passing you by, something giving you an uncomfortable feeling. Something is: Time. You are that much closer to The End. But isn't this the way life is? Work a career, retire, die. Have a family along the way. Watch your kids blossom into professionals, maybe stardom.
People in the 40s-50s are in some sort of transition, usually ending one career and starting another because they are bored with the "golden years". Too much idle time drives anyone crazy and makes them feel useless, meaningless after awhile. These people are still in denial about death, yet they are closer than before. They see some of their own around the same age in the obituaries. They see the birth date and think, "god, that is when I was born". They hear of a jogger of 10 years who suddenly collapses. DOA. The only rational thinking is "it was their time". Was it? Did they fail to treat their body like a temple with youthful addictions and stupid sexual decisions. Did they 'trash" their bodies with bad diet? During this time one notices the aging process, lines or bags\shadows are much more pronounced, gray hair appears gradual. It is a hard thing to accept. Your only consolation is the fact that sooner or later, everyone, even the most awesome dude or woman will face the exact same life cycle. Be concerned about the same issues.
Those in the 60s and beyond still remain in denial depending on their actual health. Both my parents were very active until 70. That is when I noticed they were actually "old". It seems they had manged to delay the inevitable with excerise and good diet but Time caught up. They then seemed to age quickly, many things became issue. It was remarkable or was it? Maybe it was my denial about how Time is quickly passing by and that my own parents\myself were also aging. I think people in this age group face the future knowing their time may come anytime, statistically speaking. They hope to squeeze X amount of years more from their life. They know they will die and just face it. They get their house in order, while those much younger, could care less because of some false hope inside that death cannot happen to them.
Western societies are so anti-aging, old people are viewed more in negative light wherever they go. I saw the expressions on faces of 20s-30s somethings when I helped my mom walk in a mall. I was guilty of the same except with other old persons.
My own Mom was also denial up until a few months before her death. You could see it.She denied anything was wrong. I recall, a month before she died and when pills had stabilized her, she told me, "I'm going to fight this, the visit to the hospital will be short, I feel great". She had this denial even after being put in the hospice to die. You could see it in her eyes. Then, one time after coming out from a coma, there was something different. There was a peace about her. That is when she put her life in the past tense for the first time.
My theory is that during the coma, God or an angel showed her what was to come after death and there is nothing to fear. For us still living, it is so difficult to really believe that there is something better than life.We have no proof, no direct evidence that after death, The End of our life, our existence forever, there is something more. Yet, why would God place us on earth for a mere 70 or so years, just to have it end forever? Is one reincarnated into another life to learn another lesson? Is there such a thing of Past Lives?
Something to think about.