Saturday, 28 July 2018

I'm scared of dying alone, are you?

I didn’t realise that I was frightened of dying alone. In my darkest hours when I have felt that life is no longer worth living I have fantasised about necking a little white shot of Pentobarbital and slipping away alone in nature or in my bed. Of course that fantasy is somewhat quashed by the laws around Euthanasia here in the UK and the cost (on average you’re looking at around £10k) of being supported by an organisation like Dignitas in Switzerland.

Anyway, I digress as I am not currently experiencing those thoughts, I am working hard on practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, and you know what, I think that is changing dramatically the value I actually place on life, and on my own life in particular.

On Wednesday, as you may have read in my previous post, a dear friend of mine died. She was told only 3 weeks ago that she had terminal cancer, in her lungs, bones and brain and that she had approximately 2 months to live. So she spent the last 3 weeks celebrating her life in her beloved garden, drinking wine, and being cared for day and night by her dearest friends along with a fantastic team of NHS and charity palliative carers. She even hosted a party in that same garden just a week after she had the shocking diagnosis and prognosis. She spent the day enjoying her friends and courageously held court and allowed those that loved and admired her very much to say their goodbyes. I visited her just last week and we sat in nature, admiring the flowers and the work on said garden that one of her close companions in life had done for her. I asked her if there was some excitement about the adventure that dying may be (let's face it none of us know how or when it will be for us) and she said “Yes.” She told me that she hadn't realised how much she meant to people and I said I thought that was probably exactly why she did mean so much to people. She spent her last day at her lovely home drinking and reminiscing with her close friends and what I call her 'adopted' family. She suffered some pain for a couple of hours that was managed by the district nurse who was supporting those that were caring for her in her last weeks, and then breathed a final quiet, peaceful, breath and left life.

My fantasies about dying alone, about controlling when and how I die seem ridiculous to me now. I will remember my friend as a stoic and brave woman who faced death as she faced life, honestly and full-on. I am inspired by the love that was shown to her to continue to develop my own support system as I do not want to live or die alone. I want to feel the hand of someone I love and their final kiss on my cheek. I want to hear the laughing of friends in my final hours and most of all I want my nearest and dearest to know how much I love them as I know they love me.

I am scared of dying alone, and it's taken many years for me to drop the brash “I'm not scared of dying” act and to face up to the preciousness of life and love and friends, whether that be one friend or many. My father too was in the bosom of this family when he died 3 years ago and although his death was a struggle for him physically it was also full of love, I could feel its' presence in the room as his body became still and lifeless.

Life is for living, it's for laughing and loving too and for letting people know how much they mean to you and opening to receiving love back from people. Reach out for help if you feel you need it, for whatever reason, tell your family that you love them if you can, and remember that death could come to any of us at any time. Imagine if you will, how you would feel if these were your last few minutes on earth. Would you have any regrets? Do you want to die alone?

Friday, 27 July 2018

The Lost Art of Solitude

An excellent article about being with ourselves and embracing rather than avoiding boredom.
Click here

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Healing loneliness from the inside out

Click here for Grounded Mind meditation on loneliness

So I woke to the news of the death of a very dear friend. It was not a shock as I had known for a few weeks that she was going to die and I am grateful to have spent a few precious hours with her last week.

But sadness filled my body and my heart as I sat in my garden enjoying the cool of the morning before the heat of the day set in.

I reached for my phone and while searching for a meditation to guide me in being with my loss I found a practice on loneliness and something in me told me that actually my feelings of loneliness overrode even my grief. So I gave this a go and want very much to share it with you.

I will spend more time, of course, honouring my dear friend but for now I’ll leave you with this simple approach to feeling and accepting loneliness as the first steps towards understanding and healing.

David Gandelman the founder of Grounded Mind has over 10 years of teaching experience and has “cultivated a program where he connects energy awareness, ancient wisdom traditions, and humour, to create a safe atmosphere for learning meditation.”

Monday, 16 July 2018

Ageing without children

I just found out about this organisation AWOC - Ageing Without Children. AWOC.ORG

They have an excellent website and a Facebook group too which I have just asked to join. I will let you know more as I interact with the groups members. A much needed organisation in my book.

Here is what they say about the organisation:

AWOC is a UK based organisation aimed at people over the age of 50 without children. This includes people who are without children in later life by choice, circumstance, infertility, bereavement, estrangement, distance or any other reason. We have members from all over the world so please join in. You are more than welcome to join if you're under 50 but a lot of talk will be around issues associated with ageing. The numbers of people ageing without children is increasing and by 2030 there will be 2 million people over 65 without children.

Worth looking into if you are over 50 and childless,for whatever reason.

I’ll see you there.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Why Life Gets Better After Midlife

Just a quick post to let you know about a book I am currently reading.
“The Happiness Curve” by Jonathan Rauch
This has really cheered me up over the last few days. I am always flitting from book to book, website to website, idea to idea, constantly grasping for something that will make me feel better deep inside, you know, in that place where the real, wise, compassionate and happy ‘me’ resides. Anyway for once I am reading a whole book from cover to cover and it sure doesn’t disappoint.

The premise is that after the misery that can be felt in our 40’s, which the author proves by ‘drawing on cutting edge research’, there is a natural upturn when we reach our 50’s. We feel more at home in our own skins and our core values and beliefs become better defined allowing for a greater sense of well-being, hope for our future and ultimately happiness.

The book is easy to read and comprehend ‘featuring practical ways to endure the dip and avoid its perils and helps you find a path through the trees.....demonstrates how we can - and why we must - do more to help each other through the woods’.