Dying A Fabulous Death . . . Is That Possible?
by Judith Sherven, PhD and Jim Sniechowski, PhD
Think about the reasons you're glad to be
Those everyday things that you may even take for
granted: being able to walk, talk, see, hear,
cook, garden, drive a car, dance at parties, eat a
terrific meal and laugh with friends.
And then think about what it would be like
to start losing most of those abilities.
Jim's mother has lived nearly 91 years, and up until the past year she has enjoyed almost all of the abilities we just listed (though she never learned to drive a car and her hearing and vision were starting to diminish).
Up until a year ago Matka (Polish for mother) came to visit us each year eager to get out, see Jim acting in the local production of 'Scrooge' and meeting our friends over brunch in our dining room.
Up until a year ago Matka produced the annual Christmas party for her Polish women's group at her church and ran Bingo every Monday night at the same church.
In fact, we saw her sing in her church choir on the day of her 90th birthday last December 18th.
But then her life began to fade. At first quite gradually.
And then, by the time we saw her two
months ago in June, she had lost about 30 pounds and her
interest in life. She didn't really care that we were
there, except that it required more energy than she had.
W e knew the end was coming. We just didn't know the form it would take.
Two weeks ago we received a call from Jim's aunt, sister to Matka, who is a nurse.
'It's pancreatic cancer and the doctor says she has only 6 weeks to 6 months to live. But she doesn't know.'
We are of the belief that people deserve to know the truth about their health and their dying. So Jim and his brother quickly arranged to meet in Detroit and be the ones who would let Matka know what was happening to her.
As soon as they walked in she said, 'Sit down and tell me what's happening.'
When they explained that she was terminal, her first words were, 'I knew it.'
She then told about a dream she'd had the week before in
which she was in the living room and her mother walked
in from the kitchen and caringly told her, 'Helen, you
won't see the end of the year.'
Then Matka asked Jim and Bill how long she had. When she heard 6 weeks to 6 months, her face fell. She said, 'That long? I hoped I'd be gone in 2 days.'
Then she sighed, leaned back in her chair and smiled. 'I'm relieved. Now I know where I'm going.'
Then they all began to discuss her wishes. The green dress for her burial. The same funeral home as her husband 9 years ago. No party or luncheon after the funeral.
What a fabulous way to live and die. Accepting the end. No clinging to a life that she knows is drawing to a close. Talking with her sons in one moment . . . and then . . . being drawn inward to the other side which is calling her.
She has a Polish woman who is there round the clock. The state sends nursing care several times a week and hospice workers will now come to visit regularly and it is their commitment to keep her comfortable should she experience pain on her way to making her transition.
We write this to acknowledge Matka, a beautiful soul who honors the life she lived well and fully . . . and who has the wisdom and the spiritual grace to accept the closing of this passage while she anticipates, with dignity, the life to come.
About the Authors:
Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski, The "Be Fabulous" Duo and bestselling authors, invite you to start creating Your Fabulous Life with their daily tips. Just sign up at: