Some thoughts on living and dying

Difficult topic, right? You may ask: why the hell does she come up with that?

Yesterday, seven years ago my mom died because of aggressive cancer, 54 years old. She got the diagnosis in July of the same year and the state she was in was already very serious. They tried chemo, but it was clear that it would only prolong her life and she couldn’t be healed. After some time it was obvious that she wouldn’t be able to eat solid food anymore because of her stomach and she lost weight and strength massively when August started. By September we brought her to hospital because she was too weak to stay at home and there she was transferred to the hospice station soon, where they took great care of her and where she died. I remember that morning, when I left the hospital, when all the people went to work and school and I went out into the light, aware that my life has changed completely, while their life is going its normal way. Even if it may sound cruel – I also was a bit released because the weeks have been stressful and hard for all of us.

What is worse – losing someone because of an accident or because of a disease? I often think about this question because in my sport, we all have to be aware that it is only a matter of seconds and human failure that people die. Rarely it is a chain of bad factors that lead to fatal accidents or heavy injuries.

Losing someone because of an accident always comes suddenly, you are not prepared at all. Maybe you have to witness it, maybe you’re just on your way home from work when they call you to tell you. In some cases it was tragical, because the person was innocent. In others, it was just a failure, a wrong decision, something that could happen to all of us. That makes it even worse, because yes, it was more or less that person’s own fault. That’s somehow tragical and somehow not. Suddenly there’s a hole where the person was before, you miss him or her and can’t believe it.

But at least you don’t have to watch a disease sucking the whole life out of a person, that was healthy and full of energy some weeks before. During the last weeks, my mom was only skin and bones and lost a lot of hair. Most of the time, she wasn’t able to identify us properly. She couldn’t eat, drinking was only possible in small amounts via a straw and I don’t have to mention that she was under heavy medication. When she talked, we hardly could understand her and even though I tried to fulfill her wishes (my brother, who was always more the mom-kid and understood her better, had already moved to Vienna), I wasn’t really able to. I came to the hospital twice a day and every time I opened the door it was with a heavy heart, expecting the worst.

However, what unites all people that lost someone, is dealing with the pain and grieving. Let me tell you one thing: whatever society tells you, whatever the rules in your culture are, find your own way of getting over it. If you want to celebrate certain days – it’s ok. If you just dig in at home – do it. If you want to go on a journey to free your mind – why not. Don’t let anyone judge you. It simply doesn’t matter. But let go. It may take a while, but you have to set free. You won’t forget the person you just lost. There will be many little incidents, pictures, souvenirs and even behaviors you discover on yourself that will remind you of him or her. They will be present. But desperately clinging on memories with that person and forcing yourself to not let go because you could forget the person will only make you thinking of how he or she died more than of as friend and all the good times you had. And do you really think that your friend or family member would like you to give up your whole life and don’t have fun at all anymore?

I for example tried to fix things when my mom died. I organised the funeral and came back to work two days after. I tried to keep up a normal life to keep me from thinking too much, as I always do in difficult situations. I allow myself to have some silent moments and try to free my mind with sports. I prefer staying alone on that moments to feel the pain. Afterwards I might look like the most normal happy person, I go out and have fun, but these silent hours are important for me.

For all out there that are suffering right now – you are stronger that you may think. Go your way and allow yourself weak moments too. You will find your way of dealing with the whole situation. And: don’t believe in other’s advices too much, it’s your life and not theirs….

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