On Death and Dying (2-8-15)

Each year for the past seven years, talk about death and dying has been alive and well in Dumbarton's Adult Education hour. On Feb. 8 an experienced clinical social worker in our congregation led the discussion. "It's a good time to talk about this issue," she said, "when we're not distracted by the new life of spring."

Dumbartonians were not shy as they shared their thoughts and feelings on a topic often avoided in society. Here are some highlights of what they had to say:

On the dying process:
"I'm not afraid of physical deterioration but I do fear the extinction of consciousness."
"Suffering at the end seems like violence."
"It's comforting to contemplate gratitude when we're experiencing a sense of sheer loss."

On dying alone:
I've seen human suffering so many times. nobody deserves to die alone."
"Where did the idea of not dying alone come from?"
"I've seen people anguished by not being able to be there when their loved one died."
"I don't want my death bed to be a command performance."
"Obituaries often say 'dying...surrounded by family' when that's not true."

On violent death:
"How one dies doesn't diminish the rest of their lives."
"My wife was killed in a car accident. It was wonderful to hear people at the scene had comforted her."

On getting ready:
"I keep putting off updating my will." 
"I need to acknowledge people before they die, let them know they've made a difference in my life."
"What would we want to say to someone right now?"
"Buddhism has helped me a bit to come to terms with death, since Buddhists talk about death as a natural part of life."
"When people are no longer available, I feel like I am slipping away."
"When the Grim Reaper came to claim souls in "The Book Thief," the souls of those who had lived caring lives were sitting up!

--By Ginny Finch