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On Death and Dying

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I’m going to warn you up front that this post is morbid and depressing. I’m reluctant to write it, but this is what’s been on my mind, and I’m committed to writing what’s true. So here goes.

My friend’s father died last week, and I have been obsessing about death and illness since then. I am terrified of getting older and of dying. And I’m terrified of watching someone I love die.

If I could have, I would have asked my friend if his father was in pain. If he gave any indication that he was ready to let go. His doctor thought he would only live 9 more months, and it occurred to me the night before he died that perhaps he didn’t want to live that long. I imagined being in his father’s place, lying in bed, in pain, not being able to do anything. Not feeling like myself. Perhaps 9 months felt like too much.

When my dad was depressed, he looked like the walking dead. A shell of his former, manic self. It was painful to see him in that state for four years. But he got better, and every day I say a prayer of thanks for this. He is in full form now, reckless in his pursuit of happiness.

It’s disconcerting, all the crazy stuff he’s doing. But if he has to go, I guess he wants to do it on his terms, being fully alive when it happens. And to be honest, that’s how I want him to go, too. I don’t want to have to go through that again–watching him become less and less like himself until he is gone.

I also had the morbid realization that if I were diagnosed with a terminal illness, I would not have anyone to take care of me. No one to take me to my appointments, to make sure I got my meds, to bear witness to my suffering. I guess that’s why people get married. In sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because I don’t have any one who I need to live for, anyway. No children or spouse who relies on me. And I wouldn’t want to ask anyone in my family to put their life on hold to take care of me. I can barely ask for help as it is.

Maybe I wouldn’t even tell anyone. Maybe I’d just keep going to work and playing tennis and blogging until I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t want to be known as the person who is dying during what little time I would have left to live.

That might be a problem with my commitment to honesty and vulnerability in my blog, though.

This is the most depressing line of thinking I’ve had about being single.

When clients are obsessing about things to come, I tell them that they don’t know what the will future bring. That when they get there, they can worry about it then. So I guess for now, I’ll take my own advice.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

2 responses »

  1. I obsess about the same things and my only blessing is that I have 3 grown children who are worried about me and my future.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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