Category Archives: On Death & Dying

Dealing with Death, Feelings Associated with Death

My Father & the Symphony of Life

On death, translated…

A few minutes later, the workers flipped my father’s still limp body to the side, he was like a well-behaved child, asleep, not moving at all.

My father had never allowed anybody to do him like this ever, he’d been a serviceman his whole life, he was the forward when he was younger when he’d played basketball, before he’d retired from the army, he worked as a head of a certain department too, a very respected man by all, I suppose.

After he’d gotten out of the services, he’d started making his own way, volunteered for a Hakka magazine, and, when he was asked along, to perform the traditional Hakka skills, he’d gone, as he pleased, NEVER followed anybody’s requests………

But this time, it was, out of his hands, we saw how our father, whose body was weakened by the cancer cells, got lifted onto a gurney………

Pushed, toward the morgue………

Outside of the ICU, the doctor handed me several forms, said, my father was actually kept alive by the machines, that they’d needed the agreements from the families, in order to pull the plug on him, I, being his eldest son, if I agree, then, I should sign on the forms, later on, the medical staff would unplug him, and, allow his heart to stop on its own.

All of a sudden, I felt this heaviness on the pen that I was holding, it’d become, as heavy as a steel blade………

Like the judges of the ancient times, I’d imagined, that if I’d pushed the pen across the “verdict”, and, immediately, I will hear the sounds of sharpened cries from all around.

Every word I’d spoken to the medical staff was like coughing up blood for me, I’d pleaded to the paramedics: to up the dosage, but don’t do CPR on him, I feared, that his ribs may get broken, and my father who can’t speak anymore would have to weather through even more pains.

That was, passed the autumn season, into the winter of 2013.  The Northern Hemisphere was either covered with yellowed leaves, or covered in the first layers of snow.

On an afternoon in the bottom of November, I’d gotten an emergency call from overseas from my younger sister, said that my father’s heart had stopped in his sleep, and the nurses asked her if she wanted to keep him alive

Considering that she’d wanted me to see my father again, she’d signed the papers to resuscitate, which was very difficult for her to make.

And just like so, my father’s heart resumed beating again……

And, I’d immediately bought a non-transfer flight back to Taipei that very night, with the mindset of how the world is covered with the first layer of snow…

Knowing that that was, the last time I’d touched my father’s body, I’d known, that there was still, an old soul, hanging on, because he’d miss us, and I just wanted to feel the last heat from that soul, to this body, because, the snow had gotten thicker, and heavier!

My father had been troubled by gout for a very long time, from the year before, when he was diagnosed with fourth stage lung cancer, his gout came over, back then, there were stones, growing inside of the joints of both his hands, I’d rushed back to visit with him, other than eating his meals, he’d spent his entire days in bed.

Recalling once, as my father sat up, to change into clean underwear, he couldn’t lift his arms up, so the clothes could fit onto him, he’d sighed, “There’s nothing I can do.”

As I’d helped him, I’d consoled with him, “You’re no longer young anymore, dad!”

Actually, I felt very fake, my father’s getting weakened, was the result of the attacks of his cancer cells and his gout combined!

If taking away the cancer and the gout, my father is pretty healthy, he’s already eighty years old, and was still reporting the news for the Hakka magazines, I saw him several times, with a camera in front of him, with a notebook in hand, riding to the place where he was interviewing someone, looked like he was really enjoying himself, and, his son who works in the reporting industry, I just couldn’t say anything, he’d told me proudly several times, “my reporting abilities don’t pale by comparison to you, younger generations at all.”

I’d smiled and nodded, “You get better with time!”

He’d smiled, and gloated even more, “Must have been all the running on the courts when I was younger!”

At the start of this year, my gout started, the doctor saw how my right elbow swelled up like a volleyball, he’d managed to drain a lot of yellow fluid from my joints, and found that my white blood count was over, worried I might be infected, and didn’t know if I had a bone fracture, so, he’d done a complete CT scan on me.

And, it was, a white elderly person who was in front of me.

Because I only had to get my one arm scanned, it was over very quickly.

As I came out, I saw the white elderly man lying in the bed, waiting for the staff to finish filling out his forms, then push him back to his room.  I’d needed to wait for my results from the CT scan, and so, I sat down next to him, and struck up a conversation with him.

I’d asked him, what he had?

“Cancer of the larynx!”, he’d replied in a light voice

“Oh!”, I’d become stumped, didn’t DARE ask him for the stage.

Then, I’d asked him, “How old are you?”

“Eighty-one.”

“Are you scared?”, I thought, at his age, he’s probably not afraid of dying.

“Yes!”, his voice was shaking, which shocked me, “I love life very much, I fear leaving those I love behind.  If cancer is only painful to me, and I won’t die from it, then, I’m more than willing to put up with it, because, I love this world way too much, I can’t let go of my loved ones, those whom I love and love me.”

A very good friend of mine, fell ill, and started going in and out of the hospitals a lot.

The very first night he was admitted, his heartrate and pulse had stopped, for over twenty minutes, and was found by the orderly who was checking the rooms, they’d performed emergency resuscitation on him, and he didn’t die.

That day, I’d gone to the hospital to visit with him, and we’d held a very lighthearted conversation.

I was very curious of the time his heart had stopped for around half an hour, I’d asked him, if he’d had the near-death experiences like in the movies, seeing how his life flashed before his eyes, how his deceased loved ones smiled at him, and a lighted path………

He shook his head, smiled and told me, “It was like I was in a deep sleep, no feelings at all.  When I woke up, I saw the doctors and my wife by my side.”

“So, that was, a sort of an outer body experience?”

He’d nodded:

I know, that if I’d died, I will bring so much pains to my loved ones.  But, in that condition, it’s just, no joy, no sorrow, no ecstasies, no worries……then………life, had finished, one more cycle.

My father’s body and his coffin were, pushed in, and we stood outside the walls, hearing the fires roar, like hearing the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, silently, stared at the black smoke outside the chimney, coming out, rushing, toward the skies.

I saw, my father, smiling at us, through the rising of the smokes, it though……

And, it was like, I didn’t, see anything, at all!

And so, this, is someone’s final passage of life, to the moment that he’d died, and, the families are still the ones, left with the pieces to pick up.

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Filed under Awareness, Family Matters, Life, Loss, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Properties of Life

Her Life in Picture

On her funeral, her families and friends put together a slide show of her life in pictures, kinda like the ones played at those weddings???

It’d started out with her as an infant, her first step, her first word, so many firsts, to be recalled.  Her life had been a run-on, like the sentence?  She just, kept going, going, going, ‘til she’s finally gone, and, the story of her life, it’d played on, like a projector that’s broken, it just, looped around, endlessly, guess that, would be how her life was, huh?

Her life in pictures, there were ups, and downs, and, a whole lotta in-betweens, and, none of that mattered now, she’s gone, and, she’d managed to change so many lives, and, brightened up people’s lives with her mere presence, and, although she was real young when she’d passed away, nobody can disagree, that in her short life, she’d made the most of her time here.

Her life in pictures, but how?  How can someone’s life, be reduced to a few pictures?  After all, a person is changing, growing, every single day, and, there’s NO way possible, that anybody can manage to capture every single breath the someone takes………

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Filed under Cost of Living, Despair, Loss, On Death & Dying, Properties of Life, Story-Telling

The Face I Will NEVER See Again, on Losing Someone You Loved

Translated…

That Friday, I knew, I will never, see that face again.

I was raised, by my maternal grandmother, when my younger brother was born, my mother dropped me off at my grandma’s, recalling how steep the stairs to the second floor was, how my grandmother would carry me on her back up and down, and I’d never forgotten how warm, her back felt, against my chest, and, maybe, it’s because of this, I’d felt this especially close attachment to my maternal grandmother, every single thing that troubled me, I’d tell her about it.

My grandmother was slimly built, her skin had lost its elasticity, but, her eyes still shone brightly, it’s, as if, a young girl lives inside of her, ready to come out, at any moment, filled her with energy.  Every time I’d told her about my troubles, she would, slap my hands, told me, “Everything is bound to work out.”, this line, and her eyes, had given me the courage I’d needed in times.

With that sort of bright eyes, I thought, that my grandmother could live to a hundred, but, I was, wrong.

What crushed grandma was a serious illness, it came too fast, too hard.

As everybody was gathering in the hospital ward, discussing the treatment options, my grandmother who lay there, on the bed became especially thin and frail, with that emptiness in her eyes; I’d gone up to her, held on to her, and cried, but, my grandmother blinked, and, it’s, as if, that young adolescent girl started, dancing once more, in her eyes, and her face became filled with life once more.

“Don’t cry, you’re a boy, or, grandma will laugh at you, grandma’s just a bit tired is all.”, she’d slapped my hand, smiled, told me, “Everything will work out.”, the next day when I woke up, I went to go wake grandma up, and those eyes, they, never, opened back up again.

I didn’t ring for the doctor or the nurses, just, stared, at that face, with the jumpiness of a teenage girl, and then, there were, a few drops of water on her face; as I’d reached my hand to wipe it away, I’d realized, that the water, it came, from my own eyes, drip, drip, drip, the tears started falling down like rain, I couldn’t stop it, I didn’t want it to stop either.

“Everything will work itself out,” my grandma’s voice, seemed to ring in my ears, but, she’s a LIAR, I’d started crying, too hard that I couldn’t stand back up again.  There will, NEVER, be a way again.

And so, this, is how a boy, grieved for the loss of his own grandmother, and, because he was, raised by her, that, was why her death hit him, especially hard.

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Filed under Despair, Family Matters, Lessons, Life, Loss, On Death & Dying, Socialization

Last Words

Translated…

Zeng Shen once said, “Before a Man Dies, His Words are Kind”.  In the decades of life, been sucked, into endless moments of guilt, of dirt, and, only in the moment when one is about to pass, one can finally, let it all go, and can finally, say the words of kindness that came from the heart, leaving behind, the last scent of beauty for this world.

And still, it isn’t so in the real world.  The elders wanted their offspring to inherit their “last wills”, and the children always wanted the inheritances instead, and so, the last will will always be debated on.  The children from the rich families would fight each other in court for the inheritances, get the paternity tests, that’s nothing new already.  Emperor Yong-Zhen from the Ching Dynasty, is still being debated on, with NO end to it.

In the detective novels, after the last wills are left, the cases start.  The assortment of the last wills, not only are they filled with mysteries, they’d also make people feel that strong “scent” of death.  The historic “Island to the Gates of Hell”, is probably the weirdest case of all: a soldier who’d returned home after the war, had gotten infected with something serious on his trip back, right before he’d passed, he’d told his comrade, Inugami, “if I couldn’t arrive home, to inherit my great inheritance, all three of my sisters will be murdered.”

But, this was still, a spoken well final words.  More than common were, the deceased was murdered out of the blue, and, before they’d died, they couldn’t mumble their words out, all they could do was, use their final strengths, grabbed onto something, even, using her/his blood, and wrote the illegible writings, to leave the hints as to who’d killed them.  Naturally, under these circumstances, there’s NO way that the person about to die can write legibly, “Mr. Police Man, my husband murdered me!”, and, even IF the deceased was able to write legibly, the handwritten words would have gotten destroyed by the murderer just the same.

“The Words Before Dying”, was like a signal that came out of the blue, the deceased couldn’t use the elaborate schemes to write out the final messages, nor could the person write for that long, the person can only use hints, to try to tell others about her/his murderer’s identity.  By the same token, the detectives must also have an active imagination, to piece together the crime scenes, and, to understand what the deceased was hinting at.

The British master, Charles Dickens also wrote a couple of detective stories, his final work, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, was only half way written, then, he’d died, of a stroke, in the end, nobody knows who the killer is (or rather, why the victim had gone missing).  In the end, a lot of writers, critics critiqued this halfway finished work, found an assortment of explanations, of them all, the British writer, Peter Rollins’s “The Case of the Missing Edwin Drood”, even had Sherlock Holmes, to sort out the case.

Every once in awhile, the Japanese writer, Yoshimura Tatsuya, died of stomach cancer in 2012.  The year before, he’d just planned to finish a series of a hundred volumes of “The Mysterious Creatures”, in the end, he was only able to complete three volumes before his death.  On the day he’d died, there was an obituary written by himself on his official website: “Hi everybody, thank you for supporting my work.  It’s really suddenly, that I actually died this time.  And, the identity of QAZ, and the truth of “The Mysterious Creatures”, after I’d had my funeral, there would be a more detailed notice later on.”

Yes, I must remember, that as a detective story writer, telling my readers who the killer is in my final work, is the most important part of my last will.  And, if the onset of death is sudden, then, you MUST “leave a final message before your time”.

And so, this, is the matter of life and death, the last wills, the final words, from a detective novelists’ perspective, and, you don’t know when your time is up, and, there’s NO way of preparing for it before hand, all you can do, is to make sure, that you do everything you’re supposed to every single day, and the rest, there’s NO way you can make sure!

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Filed under Expectations, Life, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Story-Telling, Writing

As I Leave This World…

Death, is about, to come, finally, it took my hands, and, moments of my past, fluttered, right before my mind’s eyes.  As I leave this world, I wanted to tell the ones whom I loved the most how I felt, but, before I could open my mouth and say those three little words to them, the wind got KNOCKED out of me!

As I leave this world, I feel rather, relaxed, no scent of regret, as I thought I would have, how odd???  As I leave this world, I feel, elated, instead of fearful, as death had come, to embrace me, in his arms now, I know, I’ll be okay, it’s the ones I’m leaving behind that I’m worried over the most.

So, I must take the time I have left, to help them, accept the fact, of the imminent loss of me, because I will die, I can feel it.  As I leave this world, I went, just as I’d come in, kicking AND screaming, I KNOW I’d lived a good life, and, nobody ELSE can convince me otherwise!  As I leave this world, I feel, nothing, NO sorrows, no regrets, and, as I breathed out, that last, final breath………

As I leave this world, I know, I’d finished this RACE, and, although I didn’t win, but, on a grander scale, I know, I’d done, VERY well, for this brief time I was here, and with that, I’d, exhaled, my final breath, and then, nothing.

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Filed under Awareness, Lessons, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life

You Can Give Up if You Want to…

You can give up if you want to, baby, I know it’s been hard, you’re a fighter, I know, but, I don’t want to see you fight anymore, because we’re fighting a war, with absolutely NO chance of us, winning it!

You can give up if you want to, don’t be so headstrong, child, don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine, and, surely, I will grieve, very hard, for you, but, that, is just how people deal with losses in their lives, they CRY, they MOURN for it, but, after a good cry, we still all must, get BACK up and run again.

You can give up if you want to, I know you’re a fighter, but, I don’t want to see you suffer anymore, so, just give up already, love.  You can give up if you want to, I won’t hold it against you, I know you love me, and I know that you know I love you too, and, I just can’t bear, seeing you slowly, deteriorate away, so, just let go, it’ll be okay, I promise………

You can give up if you want to, that doesn’t mean that you’d lost the fight, oh no, I will keep on, fighting, on your behalf, letting the world know your story, I will carry on everything you never got a chance to see and do, I will live on, and let the world know about you, so, you will NEVER be forgotten by anybody whose lives you’d touched.

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Filed under Cost of Living, Healing Process, Letting Go, Life, Loss, On Death & Dying, Properties of Life

Allowing the Elderly to Die at Home

When taking care of the elderly population became an affair of the entire community, from the Front Page Sections, translated…

Last Sunday, I went with my wife to visit my mother-in-law who lives in a nursing home.  Perhaps, it was because of the coming of Mother’s Day, there are more than usual of the families who were there, there was NOT an empty seat in the meeting rooms, it was, extremely populated.

In the three years’ time, because we’d gone to visit my mother-in-law often, the elderly in the home would know us, and we’d engaged in conversations with them from time to time too.  All of the residents are all elderly, coming and going, dealing with death, became a norm here.

That day, the elderly sitting in the next table was someone whom we’d never seen before, she seemed to have been recently admitted.  Turns out, the woman accompanying her, either her daughter or daughter-in-law, kept explaining to her how well the place is, and how she’d be looked after by nurses, how wonderful it is, to be living here.

And still, the elderly woman didn’t buy it, still held her straight face, kept mumbling on how she wanted to go home.  Apparently, the woman had lost her patience, she’d stood up all of a sudden, raised her voices, yelled, “You do not have a place to live in now, do you not know that?”, and her raised voice had, alarmed everybody who was also there, and, all of a sudden, the atmosphere fell silent, and the air froze in the room.

I can understand, that the woman’s attempts to make the elderly feel that there’s NO hope whatsoever for her, to head back to her old home again, but, it’d hit all the elderly there, where it hurt them the most.  I watched my mother-in-law before me, took a long and deep breath, and my wife who’s next to her, silent, seemed, that NO amount of words of consoles would help her at all.

The subject of long-term care kept coming up, if we can allow those elderly who are still lucid, and still able-bodied, to have that feeling of home, maybe, the community live-in care program may be a bit pricy, but, it’s probably worth it!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, I hope, that ALL the elderly can have a “place to feel comfortable” to live out the rest of their lives.

Well, this, is still, extremely IDEAL, but it’s NOWHERE NEAR real, after all, we, the younger generations are working Monday through Friday, and sometimes, we have to pull in our extra overtimes, just to make our payments for the houses, and the bills or whatever, and so, we naturally won’t have the time or the energy, to look after the aging parents or grandparents in our families, and so, sending them into nursing homes is the next best ideal, but, we fail to realize, that the elderly wanted to age in a place s/he is familiar with.  The trouble that’s facing all the generations right now…

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Filed under Life, Observations, Old Age, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Properties of Life, Values