Wanting to Live - Wanting to Die

  • By Moira McDougall
  • 15 Nov, 2015

Quality of Life is often taken for granted

wanting to live or wanting to die is influenced by our quality of life
Wanting to Live is influenced by our Quality of Life
In the past few weeks I have had cause to stop and reflect on what it means to live, and die, well. Three separate recent instances have given me ample opportunity to ponder both wanting to live and wanting to die.

A younger friend triumphed at her third attempt to take her own life. I had not known her for very long, but in the short while that I did, she touched my life deeply and beautifully. We shared exchanges and experiences during a Spiritual Seminar and I remember looking deeply into her eyes and seeing her pure and beautiful essence looking back at me. I can’t imagine the inner turmoil that took her to the edges of her endurance, such that she could not see any other way out of her personal anguish - leaving her wanting to die.

How sad for those left behind: her husband, her family, her friends and work colleagues. Do they blame themselves for not being able to save her from herself? I hope not. They need love and support to celebrate and remember her beautiful soul and the love she brought during the time she was here with us. She was living life, yet choosing the peace of death for herself.

While working in a rest home, I had the real pleasure of meeting a middle aged man who was terminally ill. He told me of his recent exploits, his ‘bucket list’. He had admitted himself into the facility for palliative care, not in the city where he had lived for many years, as he did not want to burden his friends and acquaintances when he died. His estranged family lived overseas and he was matter of fact that they would not be visiting him. He told me about his spiritual beliefs, and that he was not afraid to die. He set about wanting to live his last days with the same enthusiasm that had brought him a very full and interesting life.

A colleague and I were the first two people to enter his room after he had ‘left’ his body. He was lying head propped on one hand, looking up to the ceiling with the clearest blue eyes. While my colleague went to report his ‘passing’ I had the opportunity to Bless him, thank him for allowing me to share some part of his Journey, and to wish him well on his continued Journey.

He had lived life at full tilt, and if he had any regrets he was philosophical that what had been was laid to rest. He died alone, yet touched the lives of each person who had a part in his final days. He lived fully in his body that was dying.
The third person is still living, yet wanting to die. He is elderly, had been a very fit and healthy husband and father – then suffered a severe stroke which left his body ‘half useless’. He says if the results of the stroke can’t be cured, he wants to die. He sees no way forwards if he can’t do all the things he used to do and has to rely on his wife and son to help him with the most basic life skills.

He is living death. He wakes every morning, hating the fact that he has woken. He goes to sleep at night wishing he would not wake. His family are at a loss – what to do? Why won’t he help himself?

In the end, quality of life seems to be the common thread. No matter what our circumstances are, when we feel nurtured and fulfilled we believe that life is truly worth living.

Do you agree? Please share and comment - I value your thoughts about wanting to live and wanting to die.

www.selfmanagechronicpain.com


Self Manage Chronic Pain

By Moira McDougall 14 Feb, 2017

I recently visited an elderly woman in her home, in my community therapy role. So much had been happening in her world. During the weeks since my last visit she had experienced some serious health challenges, and her brother had died.

How could I be surprised that she had not managed to continue with the exercise and walking programme we had started?

She was tired, heartbroken and wracked with guilt, describing herself as “full of self-pity” because she was mourning the loss of her dear brother. This had also reminded her of the grief she experienced when her sister died a year previously.

I sat and listened with my Whole Heart.

 I was not there to offer solutions, to slap a band-aid over her aching heart, to make light of her feelings. I told her I believed it was good, right and proper to feel such acute loss and to express it. How else do we recover from our deep wounds?

She told me about her family, her ancestors who had migrated to New Zealand from an Eastern European country, just before the time of the Depression. She spoke of a grandfather who worked many menial jobs to provide for his family of seven children. Her parents also worked hard to raise her and her many siblings – a labour of love which she reflected on with great gratitude. She spoke of one of her sisters who had endured many trials and tribulations only to finally triumph – and she now lives overseas. She spoke with love of her own children – their successes and challenges.

In the telling, she called all of her Ancestors into that small lounge. I could feel them standing around her. I told her that I believed that talking about our Loved ones brings them close.

I can recognise the entrenched belief that being occupied fully, being accountable for every minute spent at the expense of any form of pure relaxation, has been ingrained in our psyches. No wonder, then, that this dear soul believed she was “full of self-pity” because her thoughts kept turning to those she loved dearly who were no longer here, in physical form. Because she could not do it for herself, I offered her the gift of my time, so that she could express what her heart was longing to share.

When it was time for me to leave, she hugged me tightly and thanked me for “just listening”. I feel I was the recipient of the greater gift. I heard her heart sing!

Do you feel taking time to grieve is selfish? Do you believe it is a form of self-pity?

I welcome your comments.

By Moira McDougall 12 Jan, 2017

You are going to win! With these words spurring me on, how could I not be a winner!

This morning I set out on my morning run, and it was hot already. Along the way, I passed and greeted a mum on her early morning walk, pushing her two small children in their stroller. The older child called out to me as I passed them, “you are going to win!”. How could I not honour that proclamation? How could I even consider feeling tired or discouraged with those beautiful words ringing in my ears?

This set me thinking about the many times I feel discouraged, as if I am wading through sludge. I have a strong work ethic, and set myself tasks and deadlines. This works for me when I have a good idea about a desired outcome, because it keeps me on track and I can measure my progress. But what happens when I am not sure about what I want to pursue or produce?

I am marooned in indecision, in not knowing, what my ‘next step’ is. Do you experience this too?

Business and personal coaching works wonders in helping one to define a pathway, helping to break down goals into manageable steps, in order to reach the defined outcome. This supposes that one already KNOWS or at least has an idea of the desired outcome.

One beautiful practice I was invited to participate in, invited us each to choose a Word to define a theme to focus on through the new year ahead, and to choose four Supporting Words to cushion or supplement the Word.

I have chosen SURRENDER.

Nothing works easily when I am pushing uphill, trying to do it all alone. I am not giving up, just practising being present in the moment, experimenting with ‘flowing’ rather than being rigid.

My supporting words are Grace, Gratitude, Courage and Insight – all qualities I will need to call on and include in my daily living.

Which brings me back to the proclamation “You are going to win!” We are all winners when we focus on what inspires us, what gives us meaning, and practice living in the present moment. And when we have others cheering us on!

“You are going to win!” – how does that make YOU feel?

By Moira McDougall 02 Jan, 2017

I have a heavy heart moving into this new year. Endings and more endings, because I am grieving the loss of two people dear to me.

My sister Anne has dementia and she is sliding further into the space between here and there. While she is still physically present, I miss her intellect, her sharp wit, her full presence. She is my older sister. I have known her my whole life. I never imagined that I would not be with her ‘fully’. She was the drawcard for my move to live in Christchurch.

She always looked after my younger brother and I; we looked up to her and trusted her guidance. As the eldest child, she copped the authority of our parents, and she fought hard for her independence. She is super intelligent, and my brother and I had a hard time following after her at school. She chose her own path, and with her husband travelled to places I have only ever dreamt of.

Now, I call on all my parenting and therapy skills as I navigate our relationship. She can’t remember what she ate two minutes ago, or whether she has eaten at all. She can’t dress herself. Her spatial awareness is impaired – steps are a challenge, and she doesn’t recognise familiar objects. Loud noises and busyness upset her, and her tolerance levels are reduced. Soon, she will need to be placed into full time care, which seems like a jail sentence. Excepting, there is no parole to look forwards to.

My heart is breaking. How did her Soul choose this challenge in this Lifetime?


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