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DR. JANET SCOTT*

 

By Dr. Janet Scott

The Mid-South Tribune

The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE

And the Black Information Highway

www.blackinformationhighway.com

 I’d Pick More Daisies

            Of course, you can’t un-fry an egg, but there’s no law against thinking about it.

            If I had my life to live over, I would try to make more mistakes. I would relax. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would be less hygienic. I would go more places. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less spinach. I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary troubles.

            You see, I have been one of those fellows who live prudently, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I have had my moments. But if I had it to do over again, I would have more of them—a lot more. I would never go anywhere without a thermometer, a map, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had it to do over, I would travel lighter.

            If I had my life to live over, I would start going barefoot a little earlier in the spring and stay that way a little later in the fall. I would have more dogs. I would keep later hours. I would have more sweethearts. I would fish more. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would go to more circuses.

            In a world in which practically everybody else seems to be consecrated to the gravity of the situation, I would rise to glorify the levity of the situation. For I agree with Will Durant, who said, “Gaiety is wiser than wisdom.”

            If I had my life to live over, I’d pick more daisies.

 Don Herold

***

We all experience many losses in our lifetime. The death of a loved one is one of the most devastating and painful experiences that one encounters in life. It is ranked at the top of the list for stressors. One is rarely prepared for death even though it is inevitable. The topic of death is generally a mute one. Most people would rather not be reminded of his/her own demise. Thus, one usually feels uncomfortable dealing with those who are dying or the process of grieving.

Life is often taken for granted. One rarely thinks of one’s death. The belief is that one will live forever. Each of us has a purpose for being on earth. Often it is a struggle unraveling the many pieces to discover the purpose that one is to fulfill. Once this journey has begun, it is often difficult to conceive that it will end one day 

Reaction to Dying

Terminally ill individuals are given medical information as to their death. They may display the following reactions to this knowledge. They may display the following reactions to this knowledge:

  1. Denial: Unable to believe what has been told to them. This is generally a temporary state.
  2. Anger: Uncontrollable and unexpected emotion to the fact that death is approaching soon.
  3. Bargaining:  An attempt to gain more time to live by making a specific promise.
  4. Depression: A very normal reaction.
  5. Acceptance: Gaining peace for oneself, coming to terms with reality.

Dying varies according to religious beliefs, age, education, culture, attitude of self, attitude of relatives, and one’s emotional maturity.

Help for the Dying

      People feel helpless, awkward, uncomfortable in the presence of a dying person. One can help by:

  1. Resolving within your own feelings about death to better be able to relate with how the dying person feels.
  2. By accepting the manner in which the person chooses to resolve his/her own death.
  3. Being available emotionally and physically for the individual.

Realizing that one does not live forever, it is important that people learn to live more in harmony. This would help to eliminate any anger, guilt, hurt that either party may be encountering at this stage of life. Often times the knowledge of one dying is the catalyst that brings amends between two individuals. Learning to confront and resolve conflict in a more expedient and healthier way leads to more positive interactions. Asking for forgiveness when one is dying may be a form of peace. It may also be viewed as a form of control or manipulation. It can leave both people contemplating what life would have been like between them.

What is Grief?

      Grief is a normal and healthy response to death as well as any significant change or loss. Grieving is the healthiest way to begin to bring about the acceptance of death. Suppressing one’s feelings of grief may lead to emotional or physical illness. The majority of people adapt to death in a successful manner despite the pain, sorrow and the various emotions that one encounters. When one grieves, one may experience three phases: 1). shock/denial, 2). grief and 3).  acceptance.  Incorporated in the phases are loss of appetite and energy, insomnia, fear, loneliness, confusion and resentment. Each individual has his/her own way to grieve. Thus, the grieving period also varies from person to person. The amount of time needed to heal depends on the depth of the wound.

Signs of Healing

  1. Sharing with someone the various feelings that you are experiencing.
  2. Accepting help from others. Support is important.
  3. Seeking help when needed.
  4. Eating properly and exercising
  5. Being aware of any physical changes
  6. Getting involved in community or church activities.
  7. Seeking professional help or support groups when needed

What You Can Do To Help?

            Most people feel helpless in knowing how to reach out to someone who is grieving. Some of the things you can do:

  1. Allow the person to grieve
  2. Be available emotionally and physically
  3. Be patient
  4. Provide a listening ear
  5. Help with any post-funeral activities

People tend to be immediately available once the crisis occurs. After the funeral, when the person is really trying to deal with the acceptance of the death is when support is most needed. The person to this point has probably been in a state of shock or numbness, just going through the motions. Please remember that the healing process takes time. Don’t desert them when they most need you! This is when the feelings of loneliness, depression, helplessness begin to take hold in a person.

African Americans and Death

      The number of homicides in the African American community is devastating. Homicide is the leading cause of death of African American males between the ages of 15-24. This represents 1 in 17 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. Violence is becoming an acceptable factor in our young people’s lives, especially the African American males. They think they are indestructible. They have accepted violence but have little awareness of death. “Wasting” a life means nothing to them. They fail to realize that death touches many lives. They destroy themselves, the people they kill, family members, friends and their contributions to the African American community. African Americans need to be taught that there are healthy ways to deal with anger. Death is not the answer!

      Death is inevitable for everyone. It produces diversified feelings within the bereaved. One way of lessening some of the confusion is to communicate with others your last wishes and desires. Have your “business” in order, make a will.

      Learn to appreciate each and every moment of the day. Having peace within allows you to be at peace with others. This makes living, dying and grieving more realistic and acceptable journeys

###

Dr. Scott is a contributing columnist for The Mid-South Tribune. She is a National Board Certified Counselor and a Tennessee licensed professional counselor with a mental health provider designation offering individual, group, couple and family therapy. Her office is located at 1331 Union Ave., Memphis, TN. 38104; phone: 901-722-8751. Her columns can also be found on the Health Lane on the Black Information and The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE.

 

 

 

 

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