Death

All posts in the Death category

Only an Elder Could Write This

Published November 19, 2022 by Nan Mykel

I planned to begin this post with a remark about the movie Little Big Man, released in 1970, with the sentence, “Do you remember Little Big Man, where the elders went out to the jungle to die when they decided it was time?”  Only problem is that I just looked the movie up via Google, and it wasn’t the jungle the chief wandered into but the mountaintop, and he prayed for a different ending and then he didn’t die but returned to his clan, accompanied by Dustin Hoffman.

One thing Covid19 was handy for was culling the population of ancients like me.   In addition to facing the devastation of the projected climate change, our country might soon be staggering under the weight of carrying so many old folks, and even helping them increase their number by research and big tech.  Soon–unless deadly viruses thin my older population again–(the percentages of the aged in our population is growing in the face of ever increasing automation) we the elders are headed for being a heavy burden on our country.  Currently perhaps we are fortunate that so many of our lawmakers belong to the elderly population, and are highly unlikely to sacrifice themselves.

What the Republicans called  “Death Panels” in 2009 –Sarah Palin’s phrase “death panels” derailed proposed provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to pay physicians for end-of-life discussions with patients, a policy designed to make dying more humane, something all Americans desire. Even now, “death panels” has truth-value for approximately half of Americans and is used to paint ACA components as threatening to “pull the plug on Grandma.” David M Frankford

It sounds like your elders are not into self-sacrifice for the good of our younger brothers and sisters yet, and climate change may wipe us all out at about the same time.  However, the spectre imagined by the 1970 movie  Soylent Green tugs at my mind: what of actual food shortages?  I don’t know how contorted my memory is, but I recall the impression the movie made on me when it portrayed a scene of elders willingly sacrificing themselves to be food for the living, but just prior to being harvested were  treated to a rounded surround portraying the former world of nature–verdant forests and trees, pets and other animals in nature.  In my memory of the movie it was an exceedingly peaceful experience as they waited to sacrifice themselves for the good of their younger fellow human beings.

Which brings us to the topic of food shortages in the cusp of climate change.  Can we accommodate the switch to doctored seaweed and fungi, and will there be enough to go around?  See Google entries for creating seafood from fungi and seaweed.  Relieving  agriculture’s percentage of the climate’s pollution would be significant.

All of which leads us to the personal feelings of the elderly about their own death.  Even in the face of great pain, most seem to refrain from suicide–and Sarah Palin didn’t help!  One problem with the thought of suicide is that it imparts a different lesson to offspring about how to solve problems.  Subsequent suicides within the family do become somewhat more common.  Suicide by cop is primarily available only to the younger black folks. Also, there’s the religious element, especially given the reported increase in spiritual concern among the most elderly.

At times I feel apologetic about living so long and inconveniencing the family, but I don’t voice that.  How much do they mind the bother?  Then I remember my dear relatives whose continued existence is important to me, even with the bother.  Something about their continued existence helps fortify me inside.  So it’s a conundrum, and if we survive climate change it will be a growing problem  if we return to the lopsided percentage of the older population.  Of course, I remember now that AI doesn’t need to eat.

As for me, I’m in for the duration, at 87.

MOURNING IN AMERICA

Published May 29, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Thanks to friend Eliot Kalman for permission to share this poem:  Poetic protest/lament by Eliot Kalman, Copyright May 2022

MOURNING IN AMERICA

As the sun that day climbed in the Texas sky,

nineteen fourth graders got dressed to die,

nineteen mothers kissed their kids good-bye,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As that day the sun bore from a merciless sky,

and Uvalde recoiled, too numb even to cry,

while the cops left the bleeding to quietly die,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As nineteen children went to their eternal rest,

with a bullet in their head or lodged in their chest,

and the sun went down in the bloody-red West,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As tears of woe fell in the waning light,

and dirges were played through the long plaintive night,

while the citizenry cried out, “It just can’t be right!”

it’s mourning in America.

 

With one fewer afternoon school bus stops to be met,

and one fewer dinner places to ever be set,

and one fewer eager family pets

to joyously be met,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As the moon that night shone on nineteen empty beds,

and the bereaved faced their losses with inconsolable heads,

while the NRA inexplicably ignored all the wounded and dead,

alas, it’s mourning in America.

KEEPIN’ ON

Published March 1, 2022 by Nan Mykel
 Image: Pixabay

           KEEPIN’  ON

Don’t say why, say how.

Why presupposes an

unattainable degree

of reason, as in truth.
 

Happiness happened

in graduate school, with

wonder and growing edges

always in process,
 

Connecting in the same

tongue searching for the

how, puzzled  by all the

unsolved mysteries
 

All the learning not

yet used!  The flying bishop,

prophetic dreams, who,

what when where how
 

The tip of the plow

still unearthing that

which might be now

or in the future.
 

Could quantum mechanics,

going with the flow, free us

to occupy a niche in

our haunted cave?
 

I’m still curious and

not willing to leave my

lust for understanding

back with my bones.
 

Should that occur, I shall

go out hollering and hope

to transition into someone

else’s Muse.

Do You Remember?

Published March 4, 2020 by Nan Mykel

I’m trying to re-connect with a book on dealing with grief over the loss of a spouse.  It was upbeat in that it suggests the spouse does not have to say goodbye, but can carry the loving memories with them.  If anyone can remember even the existence of this  book it would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry I’ve been away so long–had a date with pneumonia for 5 days in the hospital.

Thinking about something else…

Published February 1, 2020 by Nan Mykel

Author Unknown

DEAR ANCESTOR

 

 

 

 

Your tombstone stands among the rest;

Neglected and alone.

The name and date are chiseled out

On polished, marbled stone.

It reaches out to all who care

It is too late to mourn.

You did not know that I exist

You died ere I was born.

Yet each of us are cells of you

In flesh, in blood, in bone.

Our blood contracts and beats a pulse

Entirely not our own.

Dear ancestor, the place you filled

One hundred years ago

Spreads out among the ones you left

Who would have loved you so.

I wonder if you lived and loved.

I wonder if you knew

That someday I would find this spot,

And come to visit you.

 

Image: goldenhummingbird.com

SOFT LANDING

Published September 28, 2019 by Nan Mykel

Sure,  time’s moving faster,

whitewater rafting between

treacherous shoals.

Slow it down, slow it down!

Time’s winged chariot

catches one’s breath. How

to gentle into a peaceful

landing…How best to live until we

drift into the long day’s end?

 

Positive feelings about aging

equal longer life, they say.

How shall we maintain that frame

of mind? For me, it’s Curiosity!

The mysteries will always remain.

Wonder and wondering will fill

my parachute and help it to

gentle me down to a soft landing.

 

 

 

More Thoughts on Shame and Guilt

Published January 14, 2019 by Nan Mykel

(I punched the wrong button somewhere along the line and can’t post images any more. My screen says: (Technological message doesn’t print on blog, just Dashboard). If anyone knows what to do please advise. Back to this post: [Well, there you go. I don’t know what I’m doing in this technological world]. Welcome, image.

I committed the cardinal sin of using words without defining. In my earlier post on Shame and Guilt I referred to “narcissism” without defining it as “healthy narcissism,” or “self esteem.” Obviously (to me) that definition is permissible because if my primitive ancestors hadn’t cared about themselves above all else I won’t exist. We’re all the product of organisms who won over their neighbors. Pledging one’s life to helping others, unfortunately, can also function as a way to improve one’s self esteem or “puffing oneself up,” as I said in my original post.
The closest I’ve come to sniffing out unequivocable altruism (maybe) are the postings showing one kind of animal protecting another kind, or a seeing dog helping a blind one.
Ernest Becker is somewhat extreme in his attempt to tear down defenses which help us avoid seeing life as it really may be, with everything doomed to die.

Man does not seem able to “help” his selfishness; it seems to come from his animal nature…In man a working level of narcissism is inseparable from self-esteem, from a basic sense of self-worth….When you combine natural narcissism with the basic need for self esteem you create a creature who has to feel himself an object of primary value…The basic motivation for human behavior is our biological need to control our basic anxiety…To have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression–and with all this yet to die…We need to assure ourselves that we have achieved something of lasting worth…It doesn’t matter whether the cultural hero-system is frankly magical, religious and primitive or secular, scientific and civilized. It is still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning…To become conscious, aware of what he is doing to earn his feelings of heroism is the main self-analytic problem of life.

“A person spends years coming into his own, developing his talent, his unique gifts, perfecting his discriminations about the world, broadening and sharpening his appetite, learning to bear the disappointments of life, becoming mature, seasoned–finally a unique creature in nature, standing with some dignity and nobility and transcending the animal condition; no longer driven, no longer a complete reflex, not stamped out of any mold. And as Andre Malraux wrote, the real tragedy is that that it takes sixty years of incredible suffering and effort to make such an individual, and then he is only good for dying”…He has to go the way of the grasshopper, even though it takes longer…. Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, Simon and Schuster, Free Press Paperbacks, New York).

Now what does all that have to do with me? Let’s avoid the religious question if we may. I’ve said my head is atheistic and my heart is hopeful.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that my apologies and suffering over transgressions against others is a way to protect my self esteem. I’m working on abandoning that part of me and focussing on my “heroic journey,” of which I am aware. I seek to be a hero by creativity, my blogging, empathizing with others including my children, absorbing beauty and nature, feeding my hungry curiosity and giving free reign to my imagination.

I JUST DIED

Published December 23, 2018 by Nan Mykel

What’s it like? Like nothing else.

I’m liquid, and by the way I am we, not me.

Not gotten use to it yet.

It’s kinda like I’m my own blood stream

–or, I mean we are. Life is everywhere,

and alive. We were like bumps, sticking

out of the stew. Now we are

interchangeable, if that makes any sense.

Shut your eyes and feel the force field?

We are it.

 

(I may have posted this earlier).
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