The Third Side of Dying (a prologue)

It’s taken me awhile to write this post. Even as I type out the words now, I’m not sure how to proceed or how much to divulge. I suppose I should set the agenda by saying my dad died a little over a year ago. He wasn’t the first loved one’s death I’ve ever experienced or even the most premature. His was one that was tragic, and not in the platitude sort of way you might say about a young man who crashed his motorcycle into oncoming traffic. At least in that scenario, actuarial tables would tell you the death was fairly precedented and in no way unexpected at any age.

No, my dad’s death was the lesser of two evils and an end to suffering. It was the dying part was what was tragic. Unbearable. Undeserved. For all of us.

What I want to describe is how losing a parent, experiencing the process of dying, begging for it all to be different, and how being the caregiver to a hospice patient slapped my head around 180 degrees–how all of this that I have observed, taught, counseled, cared for in my professional role–rushed over me like 30,000 tons of water breaking free from a dam. I am drowned yet alive.

So, maybe I’ll stop there for now. Consider this an introduction. It’s not all gloomy–some will also be downright aggravating (Can I just cancel his cell phone, please?), some will be ironic (funeral food to the rescue!), and some will just soothe (she’s turned into a hugger).

I’ll end this post by resolving how I began. This is merely an intro, a prelude…or simply a map to areas yet to be defined. I will stick with it if you will, following the water where it leads.

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