Death, no matter what the cause, is always unexpected and a shock. I know this, and as a death care professional and grief coach, I teach this. Working over 12 years in the death care industry, I’ve seen the emotions of death and grief. I’ve assisted hundreds of families with prearrangements, final arrangements, made aftercare home visits, facilitated grief support groups, conducted workshops, and more. I’ve listened to countless stories of circumstances surrounding the deaths, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and fears related to the future.

I’ve personally grieved the loss of family members and dear friends; however, recently I experienced, for the first time, a slow, impending death. I watched my 91 year old Mother for months as she made her transition. I watched her body return to the fetal position, her frail skeletal frame show protruding bones and unpreventable decubitus ulcers, feeding tube challenges, constant pain. Through it all, though, she never lost her warm smile and her tenacity to fight. I marveled at her strength and wonder if I could ever have that much fortitude. I watched her peacefully die, at home, in her sleep, just as she had said she wanted to die.

I am grateful for the opportunity to experience the process of dying; however, I now wonder if it is more painful than getting the news of a sudden death, such as the result of an accident, or an unsuccessful surgery. I’m sure there is no concrete right or wrong opinion, as we are all unique and we all grieve differently. In addition, the relationship with the person and the circumstances surrounding the death will also be different.

Can you be at peace with the death? I say “yes you can.” I am at peace with no longer seeing my Mother’s physical condition and seeing her in such pain and agony. There is a great sense of peace in knowing that she said she was ready to go. She described the four angels that visited her in her room and said they were there to take her home. An enormous feeling of peace that we gave her flowers while she lived in so many ways; thereby, leaving us no feelings of guilt and regret. Peace from knowing that we ensured that she got the best medical attention and care during her illness (she suffered a stroke seven years before her death that left her bedridden). There is so much peace and gratitude for having the time for family to sit by her bedside during those last few days of her life.

Since we don’t know whether our own demise will be lengthy or sudden, let’s think about the peace that we want our loved ones to be left with. Let us love more each day. Let us pay it forward at every opportunity. Let us take more time for family and friends. Let us see more positive than negative in people and in situations. Let us put down the cell phone for a moment to appreciate what we see and hear. Death is inevitable, but the peace we leave is eternal.

Everything in life is temporary, including life itself. Decide to say “Yes” to the gift of now. I hope you dance with life.

Author's Bio: 

Statistics show that it normally takes 5-8 years to recover from a devastating loss. Dora Carpenter, Certified Grief Coach, Certified Life Coach, and founder of The ANIYA Group Life Coaching Center, says it doesn't have to take that long. She has worked in the death care industry for over 12 years. Her grief coaching practice offers hope, encouragement and support. Dora has authored several books on the subject and has been a guest on Fox 5 Morning News