Tag: choice

The timing of death


The other day I was reminded of how lots of people feel about the timing of a death. It was when a friend mentioned that she had lost any trust that she would be taken care of now that she had been diagnosed with a rare condition. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to recover and then die from her illness because she feels so let down by life and the universe. She thinks this way because someone she loved and adored died not so long ago. He had suffered from cancer and had tried every cure in the book but died anyway.

Understandably this death seemed wrong to her and she felt that it should never have happened. Her belief in her own healing was shattered because someone she loved had died at the “wrong time”.

Everyone finds death very upsetting, even devastating especially when it’s someone we love, no matter how old or young that person is. Some deaths are violent some are peaceful and they are always distressing. Death is also unpredictable. We don’t know when it will happen we only know that it will happen. (Unless we plan it of course and a tiny proportion of people do that).

Why is it we find the timing of death so hard to accept?

Is it because the whole idea of death is so difficult to grasp?

This remains true even when we have nursed someone through their illness and have been with them when they are in their final days and hours and minutes and seconds. It is very likely that we are left with the feeling or the belief that the timing was wrong. That our loved one should not have died right then. That this event was meant to happen at another time, later of course, sometime in the future, just not now.

This is not always the case, not everyone feels this way, especially when someone is old and frail, or suffering in pain. In those cases it is much easier to accept that death had to happen when it happened. But when someone we love dies young or in childhood or in the prime of life our reaction is often that this wasn’t right that death happened at the wrong time. How often do we hear “gone too soon, tragically struck down in the prime of life” etc.?

Grief is always difficult and it is made much harder to deal with when we hold to the belief that the person we love died at the wrong time. Thinking this way only serves to exacerbate our pain and make healing difficult.

We can never bring our loved one back even though we would like to do that. When I was in the midst of grief I can remember pleading for my husband to come back even though rationally I knew that this was impossible. I couldn’t accept that he had died when he died. I wanted him to die later when he was older. I was the one who should have died first. But actually this was not about him it was about me, and my fear of living life without him.

But it is possible to see what was good and positive about the time that he died. The obvious one is that he was no longer in the pain that had become unbearable.

He also didn’t have to worry anymore that his brain was no longer working. He found that aspect of his illness particularly difficult to bear as he had had a brilliant mind.

He didn’t have to deal with the stressful high profile court case that he was involved in that was going on at that time. Happily there was a successful conviction several months after his death.

He didn’t have to grow old. I’m positive he would not have enjoyed old age. So he will always be remembered as a vibrant good-looking guy.

He died before me, which is what he wanted.

In his last moments he experienced unconditional love and trust.

And there is so much more that was just plain good.

I mention these things not to diminish the impact of his death but to show that there is always another side and to honour the timing of his death and the way he died. After all who am I to say that his death should have been different from what it was? Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. Nothing is all bad nor all good. And death is no different. We are simply not encouraged to see it this way.

Because I was fortunate enough to explore his death and all the circumstances surrounding it in a whole and complete way I can now recognise that actually he was not only born on the perfect day but he also died on the perfect day. As a result of this I experience so much peace and serenity, which is in sharp contrast to how I felt before. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Recovering from grief is about being able to look at things in a totally different way and some of the things we can begin to look at are the year, month, day, hour, minute and second the person we loved died.

You may be very surprised at what you discover.

With love

Josephine x


15/03/2016 More




I woke up to a new day and noticed again how different my life is now, not in a good way…

Granted, it is a misty, damp Autumn morning which evokes a little melancholy so automatically that’s what I started to feel. I used to live with Mark, the love of my life and that is quite different from living alone like I do now. Sometimes I simply wish that life was like it used to be, comfortable and cozy. Full of good company and good fun and good conversation and love. These thoughts, if I dwell on them are actually neither comforting nor helpful. All I feel is sad and alone.

So I’m wondering why my mind wanders to this place? Is it because I want to feel the pain of grief and loss?  Is it simply a habit? I definitely know I have choices so why would I do that to myself? It’s something I’ve often asked myself because I’ve been faced with this choice many times.

The thing is, having this choice is something I have worked hard to get because at one time it wasn’t a choice. I didn’t even know that a choice was possible. I used to live every day in the deepest emotional pain of grief and loss asking myself if this is all that my life is now? When I’m faced with this choice obviously I can do one of two things. Either I can go to that bleaker place because it is simply a habit or perhaps because maybe I’m a masochist. Or I can choose not to go to the dark side and instead turn to that lighter place. The place where I can create new ways of living without my husband.

No matter which I choose I have to notice that the life I used to have with him has changed beyond recognition. But only if I choose the lighter place am I able to see that the things I miss have actually, amazingly been transmuted. I wrote that my life with Mark was: “… comfortable and cozy. Full of good company and good fun and good conversation and love…” And now when I take a closer look – it still is. Not in the same way, not at all because Mark is not here. But without a doubt those things that I purport to miss and feel sad about, remain in my life. Albeit differently. I have to make that choice to see them though.

Would I have chosen my life to be this way? No, is the quick answer. Why not? Because it is challenging and it forces me to grow in ways that I could never have imagined, and that’s difficult. But Life chose it for me. I’ve been a “seeker” all my adult life so I guess it was inevitable that Life would provide this massive opportunity for me to expand my knowledge. And not only that, but then to also teach me how to teach these insights to others.

And how, you might be asking do I have the wherewithal not to succumb to self pity? Because that’s what it is if I were to choose that bleaker place? I use the tried and tested techniques of self love, coaching, meditation and healing. I have to, otherwise I would just spiral down into the abyss of dark self pity. I don’t go there because I can choose to turn to that lighter place because I have an inner core strength that has been created by those tried and tested techniques that are available to everyone.

09/10/2015 More