Friday, June 14 2024 - 10:28 AM
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Coping With Death

“Get that—I’m in the shower,” I yell to my husband on a weekend morning. I know it’s probably my father, making a regular morning call. Yet, I still have this emotional hangover from my childhood, when early morning or late evening phone calls were perceived as ominous signs of trouble or death. With three parents now over the age of 85, we live with the knowledge of extended grace for all living parents. Each day brings us closer to that phone call that will signal the end of life for one of our loved ones. So I’m just a bit anxious when the phone rings. Will it be my brother, or my husband’s brother with sad news? Or perhaps it is my father with news that his loved late-life companion has died?

Selfishly, I know that there is never a good time to lose a loved one. Yet, some days or weeks, I plead with God that I am not strong enough or ready enough to deal with a parent’s death. Please, not now—I’m too tired, or there is too much to deal with in my personal life. Death is usually inconvenient. And what if it should be protracted and require that I make many decisions? For myself, it will be the end of both parents and the business of dealing with an entire farm, plus a sibling that I hope will remain on the same agenda with myself. My spouse has two siblings and their wives, which could mean more or less confusion at the time.

Honoring Loved Ones

As I look at the family tree that I have been working on, I’m reminded that so many family members before us lost their loved ones to death. Sometimes it was their children, death by rabies, typhus, accident, pneumonia. Or spouses that succumbed to illness, years ahead of the remaining one. Yet, somehow these people said goodbye and went on to become the next in line as the patriarchs and matriarchs.

Death is inevitable on this planet. And each generation provides a role model for how to cope and deal with death. It’s important. How we handle it speaks volumes about our values and how we intend to finish our own days—as long as we have them.

When that phone call comes, I want to honor my loved ones with a big inhale of all that was good and true in their lives. So it is important to practice breathing, in and out, every day for as long as we can.

Love in, fear out.
Love in, fear out.

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Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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