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Dying Is Final, But Passing On Lives Forever


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The following was written by Gregory Smith, MD, a psychiatrist who blogs at Shrink Rapping. The post also appears on MedPage Today's KevinMD.com

Dying is final, but passing on lives forever

It is hard to believe that those we love will die.

We can't bear it. It's too harsh, too complicated, too fraught with emotional baggage and unfinished business and things never said. It's too final. Dead is dead, after all. From the moment of our birth, we are dying. Death can be painful, tragic, too soon, too quick, too slow, too easy, or too hard.

So we soften it up a bit.

She is dying, the doctors tell us.

She is passing on, we tell ourselves.

Dying implies finality and the end of the road. We cannot cheat death.

Passing on implies going through, transitioning, skirting the physics and the metaphysics involved and coming out on the other side, changed somehow, better, calmer, whole. Keeping company with the better angels of our nature while shedding the demons like a skin.

So, we mourn her passing.

No. We might mourn her death, for a short time or for the whole requisite black-clad year, veil of tears and all.

Passing on should be celebrated.


For passing is not going through for naught.

Passing on is not like passing by.

Passing on implies tarrying a little while, leaving something behind, imparting gifts, whispering wisdom.

Passing on goes both ways, forward and backward.

Passing on means leaving that spark, that essence of yourself in someone else.

Passing on means being seen again every time the grand daughter smiles that little smile that everyone knows was first yours.

Passing on means having that song on the piano that you played or sang conjure up memories of an outdoor stage in the park in 1948.

Passing on means leaving a love for the Dying Swan and his fellows every time they perform on stage, whether it's for the King of Siam or the students at a local magnet school.

Passing on is knowing that there are three little maids.

Passing on is knowing what an angklung is and how to play it.

Passing on is hearing over and over and over again from students and parents and associates and countless others who were cajoled and taught and touched and pushed and told to try again.

Passing on is staying in so many ways while leaving.

Dying, yes, but that is so final.

Passing on.

Now, that lives forever.

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When my Mom found out she had lung cancer I thought, Wow!!! they can cure you so much had changed since 1988 when my Dad had same cancer. But it was advanced!!! I always told my Mom yhat God was sending her and I on another journey together!!!! For her it certainly was a journey!! 2 years and many doctor appointments, radiation, chemo,and Blood infection, trips to ER. There was nothing more they could do. So she looked at me and said no more chemo!!! I want to live the time I have left not sick everyday. I want to see my children and grandchildren and great grand-children! She just wanted to savor every moment she had with us!!! So life went on until it could no more. She was such an inspiration to me! So strong, loving, there for us even if she was having a bad day!! So the day came when we said good-bye and I love you for the last time!!! I know God has welcomed her into his kingdom!! Our journey together had ended, but both of us were going to start new journeys!!! It's just parting of ways for awhile til we meet again in God's glorius kingdom!!! I know she is with me, but i miss her hugs, her smell, our conversations!!!!! Well Mom keep a journal of your journeys so someday you can share them with me!!!! Her spirit will forever live on in us!!!!

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