Most of us don’t want to think about dying.
That news won’t garner a banner headline anywhere.
I’d go so far as to say we desperately attempt to sidestep the notion at all costs, illustrated in part by a society that’s fixated on youth and beauty, while ignoring the loveliness and wisdom ushered in by aging. A disavowal of our mortality is not necessarily a “bad thing;” it could be argued that to function on our day-to-day activities, we require a healthy dose of denial about our end. After all, if we spent too much time thinking about it, we’d never get anything done, rationalizing our dithering with, “Why bother? It’s all futile anyway.”
Yet, there’s no avoiding the Grim Reaper.
At a “certain age,” we need to pull back the curtain and face him, planning for his inescapable arrival. For whether we do or do not, he visits us all.
Recently, I attended a presentation by Dr. Michael Fratkin, director and founder of Resolution Care. In full disclosure, I actually met the good doctor years back as he and I shared the platform at a TEDx event. Back then, prior to establishing Resolution Care, he referred to himself as “a midwife for people on the way out.” Else stated, Dr. Fratkin specializes in the field of palliative care, a specific medical regimen for people with serious illnesses. Although not the same as hospice treatment, it’s my understanding that there is more than a small amount of overlap.
I’ll circle back to our meeting in a moment.
Watching Dr. Fratkin last week, it’s clear that he is the type of medical practitioner in short supply, exuding a warmth and genuineness that puts one at ease immediately; a trait important in any vocation, absolutely essential when dealing with frightened and suffering people (whom he refused to call “patients”). I was captivated by his empathy — I’d go so far as to say, “spirituality” — an attribute one doesn’t often associate with medical doctors.
His talk, although dealing with a frightening subject, actually offered a sense of relief. After all, we’re all on the freeway but few of us know what the offramp looks like. Dr. Fratkin gave us a road map, relaying the experiences and sensations of innumerable souls he has counseled on this path.
When I first heard Dr. Fratkin speak at the TEDx event, one of my clearer memories is a story of a woman about to give birth. What made her narrative so unlike those of countless others is that she and her family knew that their baby — due to a problem in the womb — would barely survive its birth. Dr. Fratkin relayed the account of the family nonetheless decorating the delivery room with balloons, flowers, and a “Welcome” banner. The entire clan was in attendance, despite knowing its soon-to-be tragic outcome.
Raven entered the world, and — as with any newborn — was embraced with joy, hugs, celebration, and comfort. One hour later she passed.
As they say, “there was not a dry eye in the house;” one could hear sobs from several people. “How sad,” thought we, “How can one have the strength to celebrate an experience so saturated with pain, loss, and disappointment?”
Dr. Fratkin continued (paraphrased), “You’re not seeing the whole picture. Imagine this from Raven’s point-of-view. What would YOUR life be like if — from the moment you were born until the second you died — you were totally, completely, one hundred percent immersed in love? All you understood, for your entire time on this planet, was Love. You had no fear, no judgement, no regrets. You were born, existed wholly in Love, and then passed. Can you conceive what that would be like?”
I can’t – but I’d like to try.
Sadly, it’s too late to say our lives have been exclusively encircled in Love.
We’ve been taken advantage of, let down, disappointed, hurt, insulted, taunted, and frightened.
If one looks at it a certain way, one might say Raven was blessed.
There’s nothing we can do about what has transpired. In my stronger, more balanced, mentally-healthier moments, I might go so far as to say they have helped shape us well. Nope, can’t go backwards… Yet, we can affect our present and our future, and that of those we know and will yet meet.
There is no situation where mixing in more Love and caring will make it worse, no matter how little or short-lived.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds over 23 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or 707.442.6243.