I've had two grandparents pass in a hospice. It's a weird, slow, disconnected experience, marked by brief moments of recognition of what is happening and looong stretches of distraction, disconnection, and acting as if everything is normal. It's waiting in a moment when waiting does not feel quite right, when the inevitable has already been decided. And still, we want to prolong this inevitable and be with the one we love.
I have always wondered if on some level we knew. All of us, for many decades. Has nearly everyone on some level been aware that the piece of plastic they threw into the trash wasn't going to come back? That inevitably one day, all the mines would be turned into landfills?
And perhaps this histrionic landscape of distraction is because we are all in hospice and we feel it. There is too much we don't want to look at. When we look at it, it feels like there isn't anything to do. The waiting feels absurd when we sense the inevitable. And yet we wait, and we find things to do with ourselves.
What are the ways out?
Grief... Grief connects us with where we are. It's hard to feel grief for something that isn't gone yet, but we must try, because it is that anticipation of loss that blunts us from feeling inside our body where we are.
Hope... That even as the things we love pass, there is more to this existence than we can understand or imagine. That out of ashes rises something new.
Presence... Waking up from our stupor to be where we are and appreciate this moment, not in stubborn defiance of what the future will bring but in all of its uncertain reality.
Face cream... Face cream leaves your face feeling silky and, no...wait. Not that one.
We can hope that our planet or species won't die. It's impossible to know the future, and our action does have an impact.
But there is a difference between hope and denial.
And if this hospice theory is true, we must continually look inside of ourselves for the denial that is blunting our ability to be here, on this planet, now, in this magical and uncertain time."