When we hear a terminal diagnosis, that a loved one or ourselves are now palliative and will receive pain and comfort management with the goal of a good death the ominous thoughts arise;
Is this the last time I will say goodnight to my loved one?
Our last conversation?
Is this our last hug?
Our last meal?
All these sorts of questions arise when we hear that the end is near and life-prolonging treatments are being eliminated. It is only human. It is the rawness of life scratching at us – at our heart – as we face the ending of our relationship with a friend or family member. Many of us do our best to push these thoughts away simply because they are too real and one day it will be the last kiss. It is our way of trying to avoid the raw reality of what we now know – Death is coming, soon.
We so want to deny the realty of our loved one’s immanent passing.
It is often compounded by the worries of all the firsts that will happen the instant death does occur;
It is the first Christmas without them.
The first breakfast at home.
It is their first birthday.
The first night.
When we let our future concerns blend with our current thoughts of all the possible lasts we can become paralyzed emotionally, spiritually and physically because we are so busy thinking about the multitude of lasts and firsts.
The way through as far as I can see is to accept the end is coming sooner than perhaps we all want. That, yes, there will be a series of lasts that if we are not present we will miss. Seems an odd challenge to stay present so as not to miss the last hug or the last kiss and that is what is being asked of us ‘cause we just don’t know.
The firsts can be put on hold for now, put them on the back burner there will be time after death to get ready for them. For now simply do your best to stay present ‘just in case’ it is your last tea together, your last night together, your last meal. ‘Just in case’ it is your last kiss you don’t want to miss it.
Yes it is a challenge to stay so present for your dying loved one that it ‘hurts’ your heart knowing one day it will be your last with them. So to the best of your ability savor each hug, kiss, tea, meal, walk, chat as if it were your last – then you will be sure not to miss it!