Sunday, February 1, 2015

How Do They Know or Do They?

When an elderly person dies, do they know it's coming?  I don’t mean that they are old and know they will die some day; I mean do they sense the end within a few weeks or hours before it happens?

Two relatives of a close friend have died within the past two months.  One of them, a 96-year old woman, was in frail physical health but incredible mental health.  She was smart, aware and communicative right up till 15 minutes before taking her last breath.  Of course she knew she would die one day, but she seemed to be wrapping up her life during her last few days.  My friend called her to say she’d be over to visit one afternoon and the woman told her she had really done plenty and she should take time for herself that evening.  The woman died the next day.  It was as if she knew the end was about to happen and wanted my friend to remember her the way she had last seen her a few days earlier.
One month later, this friend’s ex-husband sounded very sick during a phone conversation.  The friend urged him to call the doctor but he said he was feeling better and refused to make the call.  He was found dead in his kitchen the next day.  Did he know the end was coming?  Had he lost the will to live and decided to not take any action that could keep him alive?

I’ve been wondering this kind of stuff ever since my dad died a decade ago.  I watched him take his last breath.  Parkinson’s disease had robbed him of mobility and eventually communication.  He was unable to talk during his last week and it was difficult to tell if he realized what was going on around him.  My sister, mother and I were in his nursing home room when he passed away.  It was as if he saw we were all there, he knew we were all in good hands and he decided ‘OK, I’m done’.
Do they know?  I think in some cosmic way, they probably do know.  Some would say God tells them.  I am a bit skeptical about that, but maybe it’s true.  Or maybe the evidence is so obvious at times that a dying person would naturally come to the realization that the end is here.  

I guess I won’t really know till that time comes for me.  My own strong premonition is that I will live to be 100 and will die a few days after that birthday party.  If I’m still writing this blog then, I’ll let you know.

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