Life/Death – Close Together

This is a post from December 2015. Could help people to gain a perspective on the dying process, not half as horrible as one might imagine. The person I mention at the end of this post was Brenda Birchenough, who died 1st July this year.

This morning tooling along narrow Cumbrian lanes between dripping hedges following the on/off brake lights ahead. Listening to the radio. A road diversion due to flooding I presumed but unprepared for. A 20 min drive took an hour! However, good old Radio 4 had me fully engaged (as well as driving of course) with an interview about death and dying. A popular subject. Here is the introductory blurb,.

David Schneider is terrified of death. In his two editions of One to One he wants to try to overcome his fear by talking to those who have first-hand understanding of dying. In this programme, he talks to Palliative Care consultant, Kathryn Mannix. With almost forty years of clinical experience and witnessing over twelve thousand deaths, she believes that a ‘good death’ is possible even when you are seriously ill. She explains the process of dying to David. This, she believes, if accepted by the patient, removes much of the anxiety and fear surrounding the end of life.

Two bundles of information stand out and I’ll remember them for myself (I am well and fine) and for others approaching death. For those in Britain who can listen to the podcast I highly recommend doing so.

One: The vast majority of people pop off when attending loved ones are out of the room for a moment. It just seems there is a preference to fade out of this world when there is a chance people who love you are not around to hold onto your heels! My mother chose her moment, I believe. My dad and I knew she was close to death in the hospital but decided to go home and finish cooking the Christmas Cake and would come back later. Our return ended up having us washing her body not seeing her breath her last. That was fine.

Two: Kathryn Mannix had witnessed thousands of deaths and the process  followed a similar pattern. Going from needing more sleep to sleeping more and being awake less and less and eventually drifting into unconsciousness and dying. Peacefully. Ones worries about being in agony and frightening people, happens but rarely apparently.

Oh I seem a bit cavalier on this subject but as a woman said to me the other evening on the phone, I don’t know how to put this Mugo but it seems life and death are very close together. I respond by saying I think you have put it very well indeed. This thought of hers and what I took away from this mornings program has me better informed and more at ease about death, mine and others.

The post is for the man who lost control of his van yesterday which then entered the swift flowing waters of the River Kent. Today he was found dead in the river.

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4 thoughts on “Life/Death – Close Together”

  1. Thank you for this, RM Mugo. I am reminded of a comment I heard a monk make many years ago to the effect that if we can just relax in the process death will seem normal. The word “normal” has stuck with me…

  2. I’m publishing the following which came in an email. Interesting information.

    “I remember reading somewhere that Tibetan Buddhist monks, when they attend a dying person, will often send the relatives out of the room, so that their emotions don’t hinder the departure. I also recall hearing, when Nelson Mandela was dying, that in his culture the family have to give the dying person their permission to go before they can pass on; as if they need the family’s leave to relinquish their responsibilities. “

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