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Author Topic: A Failure to Summon Death  (Read 5409 times)

Altair

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #45 on: March 08, 2019, 04:53:34 pm »
My beliefs say the gods are not only around us, but in us; in a very real sense, they *are* us. But I didn't have the heart/courage to summon the goddess of death, to make my hands Hers for a moment, when clearly that was what was needed.

I didn't fail this time...though nothing as drastic as killing was needed. But it was hard.

My elderly dad decided a month ago that he was stopping all further treatment for his 4th stage lung and prostate cancers, which had metastasized to his liver and bone marrow. In the subsequent few weeks, he declined rapidly. My stepmother was there to take care of him, but I felt compelled to step up and help, going out to his house on weekends and some weeknights to spend the night taking care of him, to give my stepmother a break...and because, when my mom fell ill and died, I wasn't there, because she'd retired overseas. I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.

My dad was always a difficult man, and illness made it worse. Lots of verbal lashing out as his body fell apart and took his pride with it. And then, in the last two weeks, when he was completely bedridden, he was reduced to having us change him and clean him up; and then eventually he couldn't even speak, only groan and make sounds vaguely similar to words on occasion, staring at who knows what, sometimes calm, sometimes thrashing--hopefully not in pain (he was on morphine), but who knows? He started looking like a cadaver.

It broke my heart to see him like that, and a part of me wanted to be anywhere but there, dealing with it. But I kept it up. Part of what kept me going was my pagan belief that we are integral to the gods, that they are around us but also in us, working through us; and in the myths I hold dear, Death stands by the dying as they suffer, bearing silent witness even if no one else can, waiting for the moment when She's fated to give release. I wasn't going to shirk that responsibility.

Last Saturday night my dad was thrashing a lot, trapped and helpless in that body. The only thing I could think to do to try to help was stroke his arm lightly, to give some physical comfort and a sensation of touch so he knew he wasn't alone; and then I talked to him, trying to keep my voice calm and soothing. I told him he was no longer here; that his mind had escaped to the beach, and I described it in every detail, from the feel of the sand as he walked on it to the smell of the salt air...the whole family was at the beach too, including our lost loved ones, all doing the stupid dumb things we are known for (I, of course, was identifying the shorebirds as they went by)...and I went on like that, describing our long summer day at the beach. My dad calmed down and drifted off to sleep.

My stepmother was fixing us some dinner downstairs, and I took that opportunity to go down to eat with her. When we came back upstairs, my dad was dead.

I have no idea if anything I did near the end reached him or made the slightest difference. But I like to think, esp. that last night, that I eased his passage, and took him to a beautiful beach where we'll all be waiting. That I helped set him free, as Death is charged to do.

The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

SunflowerP

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #46 on: March 08, 2019, 06:56:00 pm »
I didn't fail this time...though nothing as drastic as killing was needed. But it was hard.

A thousand of bread
A thousand of beer
A thousand of every good thing
May your father ascend, and may you and his other loved ones be comforted.

(((Altair)))

Don't have much else to say to this, but it sounds to me like, at the very least, what you did did no harm, and could indeed have helped, perhaps quite a lot.

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HarpingHawke

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2019, 12:55:23 am »
I didn't fail this time...though nothing as drastic as killing was needed. But it was hard.

Oh gods, Altair, I'm so sorry. May he ascend.

(((Altair)))
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Hemingway

Morbid

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #48 on: March 09, 2019, 01:00:27 am »
A few days ago, on a lunchtime stroll around midtown Manhattan, I passed a pigeon that apparently had been hit by a car. It was flopping around on the sidewalk in a pathetic and hopeless attempt to right its twisted body. A well-intentioned young woman was trying to reach some humane society on her cellphone to come take the bird away to help it, presumably at some imagined pigeon healing center. (It was hard not to guffaw at her naivete.)

I stood there and knew the only thing that could be done for the bird was to end its suffering quickly. No doubt it was my imagination, but at one point the bird stopped flopping and seemed to look right at me with a plea to do just that. I figured it would be fairly simple: take the bird in my hands, try to calm it, and then give its neck a sharp, sudden twist.

I couldn't do it.

My beliefs say the gods are not only around us, but in us; in a very real sense, they *are* us. But I didn't have the heart/courage to summon the goddess of death, to make my hands Hers for a moment, when clearly that was what was needed.

What would you have done in that situation? What would your beliefs have called upon you to do? And in a very real, practical sense, what role does death play in your daily life? What role do you think it should play?

[Like many nature-based pagans, I also believe in the importance of balance to the natural order, including (especially) the balance between life and death. I think some mainstream religions fetishize life. Maybe because we're coming up on the autumn equinox, a time of balance, this incident and its implications keep returning to my mind...]

In my daily practice, death is, well, a daily thing.  I thing it's a merciful thing that ends the suffering of the living.  But at the same time, I'm never sure if it's my place to decide if a creature's time is up or not.  I've shot mangled animals, animals who got in fights and things like that, because I believed that it would be better to end their suffering.  But they were all difficult decisions. 

But rather, I would commend you.  Firstly for the compassion that you showed, believing that you could end a creature's suffering.  But secondly because ending a life was a challenging thing for you.  It wasn't something that came naturally or easy for you. 

If it makes you feel any better about it, all life is precious, and compassion is among the highest emotions that a human can feel.
For he who has truly lived never truly dies.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #49 on: March 09, 2019, 09:28:54 am »
I didn't fail this time...though nothing as drastic as killing was needed. But it was hard.

My elderly dad decided a month ago that he was stopping all further treatment for his 4th stage lung and prostate cancers, which had metastasized to his liver and bone marrow. In the subsequent few weeks, he declined rapidly. My stepmother was there to take care of him, but I felt compelled to step up and help, going out to his house on weekends and some weeknights to spend the night taking care of him, to give my stepmother a break...and because, when my mom fell ill and died, I wasn't there, because she'd retired overseas. I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.

My dad was always a difficult man, and illness made it worse. Lots of verbal lashing out as his body fell apart and took his pride with it. And then, in the last two weeks, when he was completely bedridden, he was reduced to having us change him and clean him up; and then eventually he couldn't even speak, only groan and make sounds vaguely similar to words on occasion, staring at who knows what, sometimes calm, sometimes thrashing--hopefully not in pain (he was on morphine), but who knows? He started looking like a cadaver.

It broke my heart to see him like that, and a part of me wanted to be anywhere but there, dealing with it. But I kept it up. Part of what kept me going was my pagan belief that we are integral to the gods, that they are around us but also in us, working through us; and in the myths I hold dear, Death stands by the dying as they suffer, bearing silent witness even if no one else can, waiting for the moment when She's fated to give release. I wasn't going to shirk that responsibility.

Last Saturday night my dad was thrashing a lot, trapped and helpless in that body. The only thing I could think to do to try to help was stroke his arm lightly, to give some physical comfort and a sensation of touch so he knew he wasn't alone; and then I talked to him, trying to keep my voice calm and soothing. I told him he was no longer here; that his mind had escaped to the beach, and I described it in every detail, from the feel of the sand as he walked on it to the smell of the salt air...the whole family was at the beach too, including our lost loved ones, all doing the stupid dumb things we are known for (I, of course, was identifying the shorebirds as they went by)...and I went on like that, describing our long summer day at the beach. My dad calmed down and drifted off to sleep.

My stepmother was fixing us some dinner downstairs, and I took that opportunity to go down to eat with her. When we came back upstairs, my dad was dead.

I have no idea if anything I did near the end reached him or made the slightest difference. But I like to think, esp. that last night, that I eased his passage, and took him to a beautiful beach where we'll all be waiting. That I helped set him free, as Death is charged to do.

We should all be so comforting when the time comes. I can’t know what he experienced, but it sounds like you really were there for him. You gave him something that many might not have been able to. I hope you’re ok.

EclecticWheel

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #50 on: March 09, 2019, 10:49:36 am »
I didn't fail this time...though nothing as drastic as killing was needed. But it was hard.

My elderly dad decided a month ago that he was stopping all further treatment for his 4th stage lung and prostate cancers, which had metastasized to his liver and bone marrow. In the subsequent few weeks, he declined rapidly. My stepmother was there to take care of him, but I felt compelled to step up and help, going out to his house on weekends and some weeknights to spend the night taking care of him, to give my stepmother a break...and because, when my mom fell ill and died, I wasn't there, because she'd retired overseas. I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.

My dad was always a difficult man, and illness made it worse. Lots of verbal lashing out as his body fell apart and took his pride with it. And then, in the last two weeks, when he was completely bedridden, he was reduced to having us change him and clean him up; and then eventually he couldn't even speak, only groan and make sounds vaguely similar to words on occasion, staring at who knows what, sometimes calm, sometimes thrashing--hopefully not in pain (he was on morphine), but who knows? He started looking like a cadaver.

It broke my heart to see him like that, and a part of me wanted to be anywhere but there, dealing with it. But I kept it up. Part of what kept me going was my pagan belief that we are integral to the gods, that they are around us but also in us, working through us; and in the myths I hold dear, Death stands by the dying as they suffer, bearing silent witness even if no one else can, waiting for the moment when She's fated to give release. I wasn't going to shirk that responsibility.

Last Saturday night my dad was thrashing a lot, trapped and helpless in that body. The only thing I could think to do to try to help was stroke his arm lightly, to give some physical comfort and a sensation of touch so he knew he wasn't alone; and then I talked to him, trying to keep my voice calm and soothing. I told him he was no longer here; that his mind had escaped to the beach, and I described it in every detail, from the feel of the sand as he walked on it to the smell of the salt air...the whole family was at the beach too, including our lost loved ones, all doing the stupid dumb things we are known for (I, of course, was identifying the shorebirds as they went by)...and I went on like that, describing our long summer day at the beach. My dad calmed down and drifted off to sleep.

My stepmother was fixing us some dinner downstairs, and I took that opportunity to go down to eat with her. When we came back upstairs, my dad was dead.

I have no idea if anything I did near the end reached him or made the slightest difference. But I like to think, esp. that last night, that I eased his passage, and took him to a beautiful beach where we'll all be waiting. That I helped set him free, as Death is charged to do.

Altair, thank you for sharing.  What a poignant story.  I wish you well, and may light perpetual shine upon him.  Amen.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

TheGreenWizard

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #51 on: March 17, 2019, 06:14:05 pm »
I didn't fail this time...though nothing as drastic as killing was needed. But it was hard.
There's many things I want to say, but for some reason, this is all I can say:
May Hermes Khthonios guide your father's soul to the Underworld and may Kharon give him safe passage to Hades.

May Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, whisper in Hades' ear, and speak of the virtues of your father and of the love he had (and still has) for his family - living and dead - and may Hades pass fair judgement on him.

May he rise to Elysium, and join his loved ones who have passed before him, at the beautiful beach you described to him during his final moments in this world, and have comfort for all eternity.
May the Gods be kind to you and your family, bringing comfort, love, closure during this time.
(((Altair)))
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MadZealot

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Re: A Failure to Summon Death
« Reply #52 on: March 17, 2019, 06:30:37 pm »
I didn't fail this time...though nothing as drastic as killing was needed. But it was hard.

My elderly dad decided a month ago that he was stopping all further treatment for his 4th stage lung and prostate cancers, which had metastasized to his liver and bone marrow. In the subsequent few weeks, he declined rapidly. My stepmother was there to take care of him, but I felt compelled to step up and help, going out to his house on weekends and some weeknights to spend the night taking care of him, to give my stepmother a break...and because, when my mom fell ill and died, I wasn't there, because she'd retired overseas. I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.

My dad was always a difficult man, and illness made it worse. Lots of verbal lashing out as his body fell apart and took his pride with it. And then, in the last two weeks, when he was completely bedridden, he was reduced to having us change him and clean him up; and then eventually he couldn't even speak, only groan and make sounds vaguely similar to words on occasion, staring at who knows what, sometimes calm, sometimes thrashing--hopefully not in pain (he was on morphine), but who knows? He started looking like a cadaver.

It broke my heart to see him like that, and a part of me wanted to be anywhere but there, dealing with it. But I kept it up. Part of what kept me going was my pagan belief that we are integral to the gods, that they are around us but also in us, working through us; and in the myths I hold dear, Death stands by the dying as they suffer, bearing silent witness even if no one else can, waiting for the moment when She's fated to give release. I wasn't going to shirk that responsibility.

Last Saturday night my dad was thrashing a lot, trapped and helpless in that body. The only thing I could think to do to try to help was stroke his arm lightly, to give some physical comfort and a sensation of touch so he knew he wasn't alone; and then I talked to him, trying to keep my voice calm and soothing. I told him he was no longer here; that his mind had escaped to the beach, and I described it in every detail, from the feel of the sand as he walked on it to the smell of the salt air...the whole family was at the beach too, including our lost loved ones, all doing the stupid dumb things we are known for (I, of course, was identifying the shorebirds as they went by)...and I went on like that, describing our long summer day at the beach. My dad calmed down and drifted off to sleep.

My stepmother was fixing us some dinner downstairs, and I took that opportunity to go down to eat with her. When we came back upstairs, my dad was dead.

I have no idea if anything I did near the end reached him or made the slightest difference. But I like to think, esp. that last night, that I eased his passage, and took him to a beautiful beach where we'll all be waiting. That I helped set him free, as Death is charged to do.

Holy shit, man.

I am so, so sorry.

My sis & I did something similar for our Ma: stood vigil with her as she crossed over. Only difference is we were holding her hands as she went.

What you did for your Dad was not only loving. It was sacred, selfless, and brave.
And it's gonna leave a mark.

Here for ya, if you wanna talk.
Superman is uncircumcised. Change my mind.

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