Waverly, NY cremations

Advanced Illness: Holding On or Letting Go

Before Waverly, NY cremations, advanced age or illnesses are often what causes the death for a deceased person. In Dylan Thomas’ famous poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, the narrator is urging his aging father to “rage against the dying of the light.” Our culture puts a premium on life and does everything it can to avoid and delay – although it eventually comes – death. This often results in a life that may have quantity, but that has little or no quality. It can also lead to unnecessary suffering and pain.  

People have an instinctive desire to continue to live. We experience this as wanting to eat, to do activities, to learn, to grow, to look to the future, and to move forward. We have strong attachments to other living things, including our families, friends, and pets, and we don’t want to leave them. While we don’t decide to continue to live, our actions make living automatic.   

When age and illnesses reach an advanced stage, our thoughts are not of ourselves, but of others. We want to be with our loved ones, and may even feel a responsibility to not fail them or cause them pain and grief. We may have unfinished business, such as making amends or reconciling relationships. Fears may arise about losing control of our lives, being dependent on others, what will happen as we die, and what will happen after we die. They may be so intense that we find them difficult to think about. Feelings or resentment, guilt, sadness, and anger often arise with both the person who is ill and their caregiver(s) about having to do what they don’t want to do.  

Even as death approaches, a sense of hope remains. What that hope looks like changes as death nears. While once it may have been hope for the illness to be cured or a little more time, hope is now reconfigured into present and immediate terms: a good night, one more visit with friends or loved ones, or, even, an easy death.   

At some point, though, in the days and weeks before death, many people don’t have a desire to live any longer. This is not suicidal nor is it a sign of depression. Instead, it’s an innate sense that it’s time to let go. It may present itself as a profound tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest. Often people reach a point where they’ve hit the limit of how much effort they can put into prolonging life. While refusing to let go may extend life a little, death is still inevitable. Prolonging death may translate into a time when more suffering than living actually happens.  

Some family members and friends also go through a door of letting go. They’ve watched the person they love fight, struggle, and suffer, and they no longer want that person to experience any more of that. Other family members and friends may simply not be able to accept that dying is the next best step for their loved one and refuse to believe that is what’s happening.  

Letting go does not mean our loved one wants to die. Instead, it is an expression of their acceptance that death is the next step they will take.  

Before Waverly, NY cremations, our sympathetic and knowledgeable staff at Roberts Funeral Home can help you when your loved one has gone gentle into that good night. You can visit our funeral home at 279 Main St., Wellsburg, NY 14894, or you can call us today at (607) 734-7811.