Saturday, June 12, 2010

Don't Wait For the Funeral

It was one year ago today that I had a “life flashing before my eyes” experience.  In a nutshell: I took some ibuprofen (which I HAD taken before) and had a severe allergic reaction.  The emergency room doctor said I was in anaphylactic shock by the time I got off the ambulance, but gratefully, my airway was never blocked.  (One of the few things that I remember from the ambulance ride was seeing my blood pressure reading of 62/44 and knowing that was far too low, especially for someone being treated for high blood pressure!  The EMT also asked me if I knew what year it was, and after great effort, I answered “yes” but it seems he wanted a different answer.)

This scary experience was the first time I ever truly wondered if I was dying.  Not as in, “Did you see the ending to that movie?!  Ohmigosh, I almost died!” but a real, concrete thought of is this what people feel like before they die?  After the episode was over, I had a difficult time falling asleep for a few days.  Each time I closed my eyes, I would “hear” an ambulance siren and my mind would start to wander to thoughts like what if I really DID die?  I actually thought about how there’d be nothing nice that fit properly to bury me in, so I hoped my husband would opt for cremation.  Then I thought about how my bathtub soooo needed a good scrubbing and wouldn’t I be embarrassed to die and leave it like that?!  (I wish I was kidding or exaggerating; sadly, I’m not.)  I wondered if my husband would remember that I wanted good coffee and a buffet table under a big party tent at my wake and funeral, and NO ORGAN MUSIC!  (I even suggested a jumpy house for the younger kids, as I firmly believe in highlighting the FUN in FUNeral.  Just go with me on this one...)  I thought about how young moms shouldn’t die, and what would my family do?!  I then started thinking about the genuinely sweet words of love and friendship expressed to me after this incident (via written notes, phone calls, emails and Facebook messages) and I was grateful and humbled.  My twisted line of thinking finally led me to believe that we should eulogize while alive.

Almost every wake or funeral I have attended has included multitudes of people remembering the good times, the funny stories, and the highlights of the life of the person who had passed away.  And I always wondered if the deceased person should have heard all this positive stuff before he/she died.  I think the answer is YES!  The fond memories shared after death are only to comfort those left behind…it’s too late for the person who died.  How much good could come from sharing…from eulogizing…before death?!  I think we can all use a good word now and then and how special it would be to hear, “You’re a great friend and here’s why……” or “I love you because…..”  Why not write a note or email or make a call to let a friend or family member know VERY SPECIFICALLY why they are so special to you.  Let your children know what you admire about them and be detailed.  Tell your spouse why you respect him and give an example.  Tell a parent what you have learned from them and how it’s positively affected you as an adult.  Don’t leave things unsaid while there is time NOW!!  It will do a world of good for the heart of the listener!

And now I gotta go scrub the tub so I can sleep well tonight…..

1 comment:

  1. I've never forgotten our chat at a dinner after a family appropriate to this post. Seeing us all grow and mature - I am especially happy that challenging 'family' circumstances have been full of bonding, laughter, and clearer understanding of one another. I won't go into detail here but I just want you to know that I admire you for your courage and your strength as you grew to understand and love your inherited family. I couldn't be happier for my cousin (Gary) to have found the girl of his dreams, which has resulted in 3 amazing children. Because of YOU, Kathryn, your family inspires and uplifts others on a daily basis. God shines from your face every day. Thank you for sharing a part of you on this blog.