Watching Death

by Dennis Siluk

Like it or not, we think in line with our customs and tradition often times, right down to the level of how we think of death, or about death. I was a licensed counselor for many years, and the issue came up a few times, and I was sad at its results, to hear Americas shamefully trying to avoid talking about it. But let me put that aside and finish the article. Yes customs and traditions set down; do play a big part in how we view death. Death being a normal and natural thing; we mimic our parents and our TV heroes, and how they portray death. Why so much gloom out there on death [?] It has been around for a long time, as long as I've been around anyhow, fifty-seven years. It is often a taboo subject to talk bout it in certain places. But you can see a lot of books on the subject; more than I can count.

I live in Minnesota, and Peru, and I have traveled much through Mexico, Central America, and South America. The Maya, the Inca and the Aztecs took dying as a preparation period, along with rituals to be put into place; when they knew it was near; my mother was much like them. She told me about her preparing for death, three years before she died at 83, in 2003. She was looking death into its face. And just before she died she said, "I'm ready, I'm alright with it, let me go." I was sad, but being sad only says we had good times together, that is what brought my tears, no more times. Selfish in a way; also, my mother left me with some fine last words, something TV never leaves out and parents that do not allow their children to see their dying grandparents, and so forth; on TV, or at the movies, all one can find are grunts for their disappearing heroes. That is not life.

People fear to talk about death, as if it was a storm out of control, brewing just for them. Death is seldom viewed by children in America (as I previously implied), as if it was a private affair. I seen my mother in the hospital 26-times in 23-days, when she was dying; and she was laughing and joking in her death bed. I am grateful for that time. It is a choice I feel, and I'm glad I had the deciding vote. I believe children should be allowed to visit and see their grandparents on their dying beds, should they so wish to, and even pushed a bit to do so. My son's daughter saw her grandmother while she was dying in the hospital, and started crying, she was but a child. But what I feel she will remember is not her crying, but her great-grandmother's smiling, for that was the last picture she saw of her.

Perhaps death is too much like hell for Americans, because most people I talk to think everyone is going to heaven, and thus, hell no longer exists. Be that as it may, hell and death seem to be connected; as my mother used to say, "Dennis, why does everyone think they're going to heaven." I couldn't answer that, but now I can, hell is too close to death, and death is their nemeses.

Author and Poet Dennis Siluk, his web site is: http://dennissiluk.tripod.com

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