Who will stand by you at the end of your life? Will it be a spouse, a child, a best friend?
Watching my mother deal with a terminal illness makes me think about the fact that few of us ever really think about dying. While we may prepare a will or purchase life insurance, how much time do we spend actually thinking about who will surround us at the end?
In my mother’s case, there is a line of people down the block waiting to surround her. It starts with the inner circle — me, my husband, my children. It then goes out in concentric circles to extended family — nieces, a sister, a brother-in-law, my husband’s family.
Her friends make up the next rung. They have visited, sent cards, flowers, cookies, gifts and more cookies. The final rung is made up of my friends, those who know my mother, and those who do not. They have sent meals, built wheelchair ramps, sung to my mother and spent countless hours visiting with her.
Unfortunately, when you are dying, even surrounded by a circle of love, there is still something very solitary about the experience. I sense with my mother that there is no greater feeling of loneliness because only the person going through it can truly understand what it feels like. But, I still think that having that circle helps — it is a hug, a touch, a look from people next to the bed who show my mother that they care, that they are there, standing by her, not in her shoes, but by her side.
We leave the world the way we lived. My mother lived fully, with love and compassion for everyone around her. She is now reaping the benefits of that with the blessings of having so many people stand by her.
Who will stand by you? It’s something to think about …