Coping with Death

I have worked in emergency services for more than 27 years, and I have met a lot of people at their best and worst. If there is one thing we all know for sure, at some point, we will die. We will take our last breath, and our heart will take its last beat. Death has many perspectives, and it can be a time of reflection, sorrow, anger, pain, happiness, celebration, or relief.

I have seen many friends, family, and patients pass away. Some were able to do it on their own terms, and others had their life cut short. Do we really have control? Yes and no. Ultimately, we do not know when we are going to pass, but I am going down fighting. There things people can do to extend the inevitable as much as possible. Control your diet, exercise regularly, have yearly checks ups, and see your doctor when something does not feel right. There are things we cannot control, such as: hereditary issues, our gender, age, and others ability to do harm to us.

I lost my grandmother, with whom I was very close too, when she was 99 years old. She defined living life to the fullest, and she had an infectious spirit that everyone around her appreciated. I watched her take her last breath and I gave her a hug and kiss before telling her it was ok to let go. Two months later, my best friend died at the age of 40 from a massive heart attack. He was a Physician Assistant (PA), and he took care of himself. He worked out, led a great life, and had a beautiful family. He came from work one night after working at the hospital. He was going to bed when shot up in bed, looked at his wife, took his last breath, and passed away right in front of her eyes. This was one of the hardest times in my life I had to deal with because I lost two of my best friends. Many of us have had to deal with the loss of a loved one who was taken way too early. We ask ourselves why anyone or anything would want to take this person from earth so early, when there are people who clearly do not take care of themselves, and do not conform to the standards of society.

How do we cope with death? The answer is simple, time. It takes time to heal, and there is nothing anyone can say to speed the process along. Every person handles death differently, so be patient. However, there things we can do to assist us in getting through this difficult time. HelpGuide.Org is a website maintained to assist individuals with mental, emotional, and social health issues. They recommend turning to friends and family. They may not truly understand, but they can provide emotional support to help you get through it. Sometimes all we need is for someone to listen. Being able to get out those emotions and express our feelings is what we need most. Write your feelings out in a journal if it helps. Three years later, I still send Brent emails. I know you might find it odd, but it is my way of dealing with his loss. He was the kind of friend that you come across once in a life time, and I took his death very personal. So, I like to write him from time to time, and I still have some of the old emails he sent me, calling me various names or saying things that only two best friends could appreciate and laugh about. You must look after your physical health. It is very easy to take the road of self destruction by not eating or drinking. You cannot lie in bed for weeks on end and do nothing, you have to move on. Most of us do not have the sick time to take off for extended periods of time, so we must take care of ourselves mentally and physically. It is ok to have the feelings you have, and it is ok to get angry or sad, as it is part of the process, but you cannot allow it to consume your entire life because there are other people depending on you. Try to plan ahead for those triggers, such as: anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays. Find a way to honor that person in such a way that does not put you into a deep depression. By panning ahead, you make your self ready emotionally, and even though it may be a difficult day for you, you can make adjustments and have a support system in place.

In the end, death is a part of the cycle of life. Our time on this earth is nothing more than a blink of an eye. Enjoy everyday to the fullest, embrace your friends and family because you never know when it will be last time you see them or hear their voice. Take care of yourself, as it will help you get through the worst of times. Be strong, give yourself time to grieve, use your support system, and take time to heal.



About PhDMedic

I have a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis & Resolution, with a concentration in International Peace and Conflict, and I am a National Registry Paramedic with 30 years in emergency services as a provider and educator. View all posts by PhDMedic

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