Part two of two
Did you already go and see the movie Heaven Is For Real? Or maybe you went to see God Is Not Dead?
For some reason, within the last few months the general public has been really interested in these two movies. Both of them were box office hits. But as I said last week, on the other hand most Canadians do not want to talk about “death” (Harris Decima opinion poll).
In fact, they get “freaked out” even thinking about it.
We all have to face death sometime in our lifetime. We simply do not know when it is going to occur. Mental Health specialists have studied the “fear of death” for years and have concluded that it is more of a combination of other fears that make up the overall fear syndrome. Some of the following quotes are taken from S. Michael Houdmann, CEO of gotQuestions.org :
• Fear of the unknown.
It is absolutely normal to want to know and understand what is going on around us. What happens after death cannot be proven while we are still alive, or at least that is what people, who think they are highly intelligent and super inquisitive, think. Highly intelligent and super inquisitive people usually have serious problems with concepts like “believing by faith”.
Part of this fear also includes the eventual inability to finish the business you were taking care of on this earth. After all we have “responsibilities”!!!
• Fear of loss of control.
Like knowledge, control is something human beings strive for. Again “dying” is outside of our control. Hence, some people’s extreme pre-occupation with exercise, diet, vitamins, news media about health issues, etc ...
• Fear of pain, illness, or loss of dignity.
Many people do not fear death itself, but they fear things like crippling pain, debilitating illness and associated circumstances such as loss of dignity. At times, this type of fear already starts when one contracts the chronic stage of end of life illness ...
• Fear for those left behind.
Again many people might not fear death itself, but they are worried about those they will leave behind. There is no doubt that, in the physical, death causes a permanent separation, at least in this world.
While we are unable to do anything about the “event of death”, like Dr. Marla Shapiro said, there are things we can do to alleviate many of these fears. And her advise to do these things when we are healthy and well rather than when we are in a crisis, is wise indeed.
Practical steps to alleviate these fears include advance care planning, a process of communicating your wishes for end-of-life care, and naming a substitute decision maker. You might need a number of specialists to assist you in this type of planning.
For the legal implications of this type of planning, speak to a lawyer. For the financial implications, speak to your banker, your accountant or your investment adviser. And if you have family that loves you, always include them in this process. Talk openly to those who have to carry out your wishes.
And, of course, these decisions are difficult at times and should always be made keeping your personal “spiritual beliefs” in mind. This column is specifically about and, more importantly, for seniors.
It is not easy for those of us who are old and coming closer and closer to the end of our lives to accept the inevitable. Some of us live in denial. Some of us are indeed afraid. Some of us grieve for ourselves and for the people we will lose when we are dead. Some of us achieve a state of peace about death. Some of us never do.
In another movie called “The Bucket List,” a character played by Jack Nicholson, trying to come to grips with dying, says, “We all want to go on forever, don’t we? We fear the unknown. Everybody goes to that wall, yet nobody knows what’s on the other side. That why we fear death.”
Though I am 65 years of age and have had heart disease for the last 14 years, I believe I have come to grips with these fears, including the overall fear of death.
And I hope and pray that all of you will find that same state of peace about death. But if you haven’t yet reached that state, going to see movies like Heaven Is For Real or God Is Not Dead would not hurt at all. It indeed might make you think about what is to come.
And if you are left with any pressing questions even if you are a secure, devout believer, a friendly visit with a spiritual adviser, pastor or priest might well be very useful.
They might not have any definite answers, but they can pray for you so you would receive that peace.
John Fryters is a 65-year old senior citizen who has lived in Prince Albert for 25 years. He is passionate about providing information about and for his own peer group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org