Early days I thought I was going to be a veterinarian. Not many schools back then – accepted and put on a wait list for 2 years before could start. Decided maybe just continue education while waiting and switch to pre-med. That was the beginning of my education about death and dying. Carving up cadavers was a lot different than carving up dead animals. You don’t have a choice but to think about, well, what you think yourself about death and develop a personal philosophy.
Have taken care of several close relatives, incl my mother for almost 3 years, as their bodies slowly wasted away abandoning them. Care-giving is no picnic either – especially when you have emotional attachments to your ‘patient’, and have your own obligations and life to take care of. Rough balancing.
Throw in business travel to many places undergoing major ‘civil unrest’ in the ’80’s – people shot randomly on streets in front of you in broad daylight (drug cartels in Columbia and VZ), stumbling upon dead bodies left to rot in the sun in Nicaragua…I can not even imagine being in a true combat situation or a siege/bombing situation such as Selco, the people in Syria, Gaza or so many other places.
You either crack up mentally (sooner or later), try to squash it all down and ‘carry on’ and deal with the effects of that…or you face the more than unpleasant fact of death and dying, examine it and answer the questions for your own self of ‘why?’, ‘why them and not me?’, ‘is that all?’, ‘what is the point?’ – and look for answers in all of places, hoping someone, somewhere can provide the answers. You either come up with your own philosophy and beliefs that make the most sense to you to make it all ‘understandable’…or…fill in so many different scenarios. Bitterness, cynicism common.
Most people I know have never been with someone they know when they actually take their last breath. They get a call – from police or a hospital or a nursing facility. They have no idea how messy normal death and dying can be. Those that do eventually witness a death can go in to shock as the reality/finality sets in. Witness a violent death or its immediate aftermath? You can not sometimes eat or talk for at least a few days. The human body can take an amazing amount of disease and dysfunction as it slowly rots and shrivels and shrinks before it finally quits working.The human body when it is breached my violent forces can take on an almost unrecognizable form. Yes. Selco of course is correct. Dirty, bloody, smelly….another living organism in process of returning to ‘dust’
Am old enough now that I have determined my own philosophy and set of beliefs that help me face the subject, my own death included. But it wasn’t a quick or rock-less path/journey. But at least I have something to cling and hold onto each time I now encounter it.
My initial thoughts OTOMH on the subject.