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November 18, 2010

Working With Death

Filed under: Culture And Society — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 11:01 pm

During the course of my own ill health, I’ve met both young and old patients who’ve been handed a death sentence by our medical oracles. As might be expected, I’ve found both age groups embrace or reject the inevitable and live their remaining time accordingly. What’s stood out however is that young children, if given the chance, are much better at dealing with death than adults.

During the last 20 years, I’ve had the good fortune of knowing a few of the “accepting” young and their families. In those instances, parents provided the space for the rapid evolution of their child, who invariably died with a level of wisdom and insight far beyond their years.

I’ve also known families, who tried to hide what was happening from their terminally ill child – an approach which really didn’t help. The child almost always died in a state of fear, indirectly fostered by the parent’s own denial.

Then there’s adults, and sadly I’ve known more adults that greet the reaper in a state of denial than acceptance. From what I’ve seen, children, if allowed, accept their reality much better than “grown ups”. For example, the last gentleman that my wife and I farewelled, continued to believe he “could not die”, right up until his last days.

We have truly messed up as a society, to allow death to be so perfectly removed from reality that even when we’re dying, we can’t be honest with ourselves. Then again, I don’t suppose you’d think your life could come to an end, if you drove around in flashy cars, lived in McMansions and had enough disposable income to replace all your furniture every 2 or 3 years!

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

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