Seniors: The Shock of Sudden Death

May 13th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

When someone dies suddenly, unexpectedly there comes with it a shock, much like that of an earthquake.  On an emotional scale it is hard to calculate or register.  It is so because it comes with such force that it is hard to anticipate the after effects.  Suddenly, without warning, the one who was here is gone.  Without advance notice, it hits.  With brutal and devastating quickness it comes and within that moment, your whole frame must accommodate the brutality of it.  Emotions have to be allowed their due.  The body must ready itself for some kind of readjustment.  The mind must take in the information and figure out a way to process it.  The spirit has to rise to the occasion to head off too much damage to the entire universe that is you.

Now, your knowledge bank must take in this new and unwelcome information that has invaded all your senses.  Now, you must call on the depths of your person and faith and grasp of reality to be equipped not to allow yourself to be overcome.  Now, you must make ready for what is next, when you have no idea what could possibly be next. 

These are the moments of wishing.  This is a time of pleading.  This is a transition not fully prepared for.  This is a time for questions. 

Why couldn’t  we have had one more day, one more hour, one last visit?  We did, but at the time we didn’t realize it.  Why didn’t I say all the things I thought or considered saying?  Why couldn’t we have celebrated one more beautiful occasion together?  How did it happen that we didn’t get the chance to say goodbye? How is it so much slipped by us, when we were so close, so committed, so attached, so precious to each other? 

Unanswered queries like these will now have to stay unanswered.  There is no recalling a moment, except in isolated memory.  There is no retracing steps, saying at last what always went unsaid, assuring one another that we would always, always…!  And so it goes.  Regrets are as plentiful as our tears.  Pain is as deep as our longing.  Our wishes are as numerous as our need to be held and reminded of how good it feels. 

Sudden death is the hardest death of all to abide.  When someone suffers a long and abiding illness, one adjusts day by day to the inevitable.  It isn’t erased, but choosing to be compassionate in the face of enduring pain seems to take hold.  When you expect to see your loved one, no matter how defined, on the very next day, or within an hour or two, it just shatters you when you learn that won’t be possible.

So, the soaked handkerchief must be traded for another.  The troubling unanswered questions must be laid aside, the anticipation of one more time must be surrendered.  It won’t happen now.  One is left, thankfully, with deep and abiding memory, with shared affection, with the remarkable sense of connection, even in death, that is like nothing else.  One is cloaked with the blessed peace that comes to us when we need it most.  One is surrounded with dear, close, intimate and sincere friends whose words and embraces seek to offer us mild consolation.

Yet, we continue to seek for more.  The more will come. It comes as our hearts that are broken finally begin to mend.  It will come when our souls seemed somehow joined with the one who has left.  It will come when our spirits are re-energized and made whole again.  It will come.  Letting it come is the gift we are given, for no other way do we keep close to our bosom the undying love we have known.

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