Life in Waiting – The Burden of Death

Life in Waiting – The Burden of Death

For the past few days, I’ve been walking around with the feeling of a great weight hanging over me, ready to fall at any moment. Getting things done was a chore. Making plans beyond the next day took all my willpower. I feel like my life is on hold and I’m just waiting.

The waiting part is true and there’s not much I can do about it. But the life on hold part is all my business and I can do a lot about it.

You see, my wife is down in Nashville with her father, who is dying. He was released from the hospital on Friday and is now in home hospice care. ( This is a wonderful site full of excellent information on end of life care) Melissa is there with her sister, stepmother and others to keep him comfortable and help him through this transition to the next world.

Melissa was down there for a week, came back last Tuesday, and then on Thursday got word that her father had taken a turn for the worse. She dropped everything, turned and flew back there.

It’s amazing how the two tiny words “every day” spoken by a doctor can create a sense of urgency in the loved ones of the person to whom those words are spoken. Also, in a very powerful way, these words carry a certain freedom, they give permission to step back from the responsibilities of everyday life and address the deep and transformative issues that arise around the end of life.

I can feel the relief in my wife as we speak. There is an ease in her voice, a clarity that seems to come from that relaxation. Her willingness to give up the responsibilities she has up here to be there with her father and family has obviously been good for her. The opportunities she had to bond with her father during this powerful period of transition brought them closer than ever. And her ability to acknowledge and share her grief and sadness in the supportive environment of her family has had a purifying effect on her.

As she goes through this powerful process down there, I’m here with Ella, feeling disconnected, unclear about my role, and more than a little helpless. How can I support Melissa while she’s in Nashville?

I understand that, from a practical point of view, my staying here and looking after Ella is the best support I can provide. This gives Melissa a chance to be there with her family. But that didn’t make it any easier to be so far away.

This disconnection and helplessness infuses the rest of my life. How do I plan after today? Do I have to arrange childcare on the evenings I teach? How about a Saturday Law of Attraction group? Should I get coverage for this? How about my early morning meetings on Friday?

Ella and I are flying to Nashville for the funeral. But when will that be? today? tomorrow? In three weeks? Every time Melissa calls, I think, “This is it.” And every time I call her and she doesn’t answer, the same thought goes through my head. I can assure you that this type of thinking is not conducive to a focused, productive work life!

In moments of clarity, I recognize this time as a powerful challenge and opportunity to be more fully present in my life. And with clarity comes questions. Good questions that can lead me to a fuller presence. Here are just a few of the questions that arise.

Can I go on with my life knowing that I will be called at any moment?

Can I let go of my notion of “support” and trust that my ability to be here with Ella is the most powerful support I can offer?

Can I acknowledge and take care of my own needs during this time?

Can I find the words to speak clearly to Ella about what is happening?

When I step back from all that is going on and gain some perspective, I really see the blessing of this time. It’s so easy to put life on hold, waiting for some important – or not so important – event to move on. I’ve seen it in myself and in my clients: we wait to hear about a job we’ve applied for. We are waiting to hear if an article has been accepted. We wait to hear if someone we like wants to go on a date with us. We are waiting for a check in the mail. We are waiting for a phone call. we are waiting…

How often do we put our lives on hold waiting for some external circumstance to resolve itself?

Most of the time this waiting, this holding, is so subtle that we don’t even notice it. In this case, it’s anything but subtle. This well-defined sense of paralysis enabled me to explore this place of detention. Now I realize it, I realize it, and so I can choose how to proceed. I take full responsibility for my actions or inaction.

This is both the beauty and the curse of self-awareness: as your consciousness expands, so does the level of responsibility you must take for your life. I choose to take full responsibility for this moment in my life. Will I step forward, as Thoreau says, confidently in the direction of my dreams, knowing that my forward progress can be interrupted at any moment? Or I’ll keep my fingers crossed waiting for all the traffic lights on the road ahead to turn green.

The choice is mine. And in every moment I will continue to make the best choice I can. Because that’s all I can do.

#Life #Waiting #Burden #Death

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