Wednesday, April 17, 2019

DIMI IS DEAD: A BIT OF ME IS GO




Yesterday we put Dimi down.  He had another seizure and this one did him in.  He couldn’t stand, hear or see much of anything.  We took him to the emergency animal hospital and they medicated him to see if he could survive and live a while longer.  By the morning it was clear that his life was over.  We had tried everything, but it was time to say goodbye.  We sat in a room waiting for the nurse to bring in him, wishing that we could find some way to keep him going, knowing that it was time. It was one of those moments in life when your body is screaming no, and you have to muster up the will to go ahead and do what’s right.  Trying to keep him going would be for us; but a cruelty for him. 

They brought him in, wrapped in a blanket, and handed him to Arleah. His eyes were shut tight and he was uncontrollably shaking.  He was gone from this world and was a mass of pain and suffering.  The vet gave him a sedative and he mercifully stopped shaking.  She then gave him the lethal dose that stopped his heart.  He looked so peaceful as he was dying.  We gave him a kiss on his head and gave him back to the nurse.  It was over, and all we had then was our grief.

At times like these we have always found it bizarre to be filling out paperwork and charging things like a cremation.  We talked about the experience of picking out Sharon’s casket, and trying to decide what the lining should be.  It’s surreal, no doubt, to be dealing with the practicalities of death, when immersed in deep, gut-wrenching grief.  But, in retrospect, life goes on, and it must.  There is no consolation and the world knows nothing of your suffering; and that’s how it should be.

Today, I can think of nothing else but Dimi.  I expect him to be around every corner and think that I see glimpses of him as I leave a room.  If there’s a doggie heaven I can picture him sitting alertly and so cutely, looking for rabbits to chase.  I want him back so much, it hurts.  I don’t know how many more bits of my heart I can lose.  Arleah and I always wonder, every time we go thru this agony, if we can do it again.  I’m sure we will, but not now.

Morrie Shechtman
April, 2019

Monday, April 8, 2019

DIMI IS DYING: REFLECTIONS ON AGING AND GRIEVING


Our little dog is dying and it is heartbreaking to see him wandering around aimlessly, trying, I’m sure, to figure out what’s happening to him.  He has been a good friend and has brought much joy and happiness to our lives.  We feel privileged to have had his companionship for the past fourteen years, and it will be gut-wrenching to put him down.  He has lost control of his bodily functions; he stands in the middle of rooms, staring into space; and wakes up from his deep sleeps, disoriented and puzzled.  It is agonizing watching him disintegrate.  It will soon be time to say goodbye.

Arleah and I have felt, for some time, that we are dying.  We have acknowledged that we are in the last part of our life – it is not grim, nor depressing.  It is sobering, sad, full of loses.  We grieve a lot – for all the places we’ve been, for all the people no longer in our lives, for the places we’ve lived.  We have by no means given up on life.  We still love our work, and feel lucky to start people down the path of personal growth, and help others make profound changes in their lives. 

It is almost impossible to explain to people what it’s like to get old.  It’s not pretty.  There’s a saying we learned, when we were living in Montana, that sums up the experience – “There are no happy endings in nature.” The changes are enormous.  Arleah and I have been risk-takers and goal setters throughout are lives together.  But aging has tempered our risk-taking and our goals have a shorter window and are much less cosmic.  That has been difficult to accept. 

My work is more impactful than it’s ever been, and aging has allowed me to discard the burden of humility.  I am extraordinarily good at what I do.  I discover where people are stuck and what they need to change, with amazing speed and accuracy; and that feels enormously gratifying. Most people find that very helpful; some find it too much, too soon.

Other people, viewing us through a traditional prism, can run the gamut from irritating to insulting.  Most service providers over simplify their explanations of what they’re going to do, and talk way too loud.  I find myself regularly advising people that I have had a number of surgeries, but none of them have been lobotomies.

All in all, becoming an old person has been an ironic experience.  As we face the end, the opportunities to start anew are plentiful and intriguing.  Knowing us, we won’t be able to resist the challenge.

Morrie, At 76
November, 2018

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Poem #21









In the midst 
of

my healing,
 the grief 
still comes 
sometimes.



Wrenching 
tearing 
agonizing,
 as though 
I
found you
 dead 
today.

Monday, February 18, 2019

When Your Child Dies





When your child, and mine, dies, it wipes out everything.  It wipes out the ability to focus, think, relate to people, including family and friends.  When anyone is so profoundly impacted by an event it is not likely that anyone will be in the same place at the same time. Ultimately this death redesigns your core self.  Nothing is so internally life altering as the death of your child. 

In many ways the death of your child creates an invisible prison because no one can see the overwhelming pain or internal distortion.  For me, the first year at least, was simply trying to not hurt so much.  I had the continual sensation of having a hole in my middle.  Not anything visible so people thought me a bit strange. I feel I have become a bit strange as no one can really share that experience, grief is truly a walk alone.

The rebuilding of self and life is slow and arduous, there are no guidelines, you have to make them up as you go.  On the other side of healing is a wholly different person with different priorities, different foci, different needs and a very different philosophy.   

The ripping apart inside is so painful, persistent and complete that it is a wonder that any of us come back at all.  The saddest and most difficult result is that no one can truly be there and very little helps for a very long time. 

Forty + years after her death I am still strange and different from others because the theme is still the same.  “You should be over IT by now”. “Time to move on.”  Etc., etc. in tiresome consistency.  I actually have gotten on with my life, a wonderful, marriage a satisfying career, another child and now our children’s marriages and now grand-children.  It has been a good life, and still, and still I am different and apart from others because… when my child died that wiped out everything.