Tuesday, 23 October 2018

I'm not frightened of dying, it's survival that scares me

Last night over Prague we hit a patch of turbulence, it was that rough that the cabin crew didn't even have time to put the trollies away before the Captain told them to take their seats.

There were quite a few audible gasps from my fellow passengers, but I just sat there, looking out the window at the wing, tipping and bumping in the sky.

I used to be frightened of flying, I used to be frightened of heights, but that is an irrational fear and my true fear I faced all those years was my fear of actual death, but over the past year and a half I've come to realise that I'm not frightened of death either, I'm actually frightened of survival.

Last summer, my father died suddenly at home, I was with him within minutes of his collapse and I could tell he was dying. An ambulance had already been called, but I rang them back and went through the protocols with the operator, I was remarkably calm and in control of myself. I wasn't asked to start CPR or do mouth to mouth. I just followed instructions and sat there with my father watching him die until the emergency response teams arrived and took over.

Over the past few months, I've re lived that scene many times in my head, I've separated the sudden death of my father from the scene and I live with the feeling of helplessness watching a person die, not in pain, not aware, not communicating their wants and needs, no blinking of the eye, no rising of the chest, just life escaping them, slowly and there being absolutely nothing I could do to change the outcome.

I'm grateful my father died the way he did, quickly, painlessly and with his family around him, but as much as I didn't want him to die, I also didn't want him surviving and not having a quality of life, whilst waiting slowly for nature to take its course with every goodbye I made getting harder and harder for both of us.

My father died that night, I survived, but the events live with me, they haunt me. I have no regrets, July 11th 2017 was my father's time, he'd lived a full life. I know there was nothing I could've done, nothing different I could've tried that would have changed the outcome, but I live with a feeling of feeling totally helpless. His life was out of my control, like the turbulence last night was out of my control also. I've flown numerous times, I can accept the turbulence is out of my control. I wouldn't survive an air crash from 37,000ft so there was nothing to fear.

I've only watched one person die, I need a bit more time to accept that.

16 comments:

  1. I am so sorry you are still feeling the pain of that night. I agree there was nothing you could do but be there are you did that with grace and dignity at the time.
    I am with you I have no fear of dying, I have a fear of survival with no quality of life which is hard for family and friends as you take time to slip away.
    I work in a hospital and have done for 15 years now but every time the emergency buzzer goes off and everybody swarms from everywhere it still sends a chill through me and unnerves me a lot.

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    1. I've always thought of death about the people left behind and how they cope

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  2. You went through a trauma there and it is still very early days for you. I have no clever words but want to say this a brave and honest post and also does not try to be clever because some things are just too big for that and I get it. #TriumphantTales

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    1. thank you, i guess we can't put a time scale on things like this

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  3. working in health care I've seen people go every way possible. I too, would prefer it to be quick and unexpected. Sorry for your loss #triumphanttales

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  4. Hi Suzanne, for once I'm actually lost for words. What you say makes sense, I wouldn't want to survive and loose my quality of life and dying is final, so I wouldn't know a thing. Ido know what you mean about being on a plane, it does cross my mind that if something were to happen I wouldn't know much about it ( I hope). I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like sitting with your Dad in his final moments, but it was certainly a plus that you know for sure that he didn't suffer and wasn't alone. Saying that it's bound to be something that takes a long time to get your head around and accept. Grieving is never smooth sailing.

    Thank you for sharing your story with #keepingitreal.

    xx

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    1. it's going to take far longer than i could've ever imagined

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  5. It's true seeing someone's quality of life and will to live diminish is awful - we had that with my FIL this year, dying is awful really but (frankly) we all will. I think you're right sometimes survival seems harder. Take care, and thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

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    1. Dying I can accept, it was actually being there that has caused me the long term grief

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  6. Oh wow, this must have been an awfully hard experience, watching your dad die. No wonder it takes a long time to process, and will surely always stay with you. Death can be hard to cope with (for those surviving), even more so when it’s unexpected and sudden, or comes at an early age. Thank you for sharing so honestly, lots of love to you x #PoCoLo

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    1. I was surprised with how quickly i came to terms with his death and shocked by the after effects

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  7. A really tough experience, which has impacted on you in unexpected ways. I can only think I would like to go quickly, or "cease upon the midnight with no pain: as Keats put it. Great post and thanks for sharing it #Tweensteensbeyond

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    1. i guess there's no good way to go other than for the person who dies, it's the people left who have to deal with it

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  8. Oh I'm so sorry you had to go through that and that it still haunts you. Grief can affect you in that way, you can feel ok at the time and devastated later, or devastated at the time and learn to live with it or even both. I do think the aftershock is worse. I've watched three loved ones die, two quickly, one slowly. It's not something you ever really get over, but it does make you think about your own mortality more. I'm not afraid of dying at all, but I am afraid of what my loved ones will feel after I'm gone. Grief is the pits but it does help to talk about it. xx

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    1. thank you for sharing your experiences and sorry it's something you've been through, but guess it happens to everyone sooner or later, my upset is for my children when I die, I saw how they were affected by my grief at losing my father

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