Although various philosophers and self-help authors may suggest pausing and reflecting on our lives on a regular basis, some residents of Maquoketa and elsewhere are only able to do this at the end, such as when they start receiving palliative care.
And that’s OK – nothing like a deadline to start remembering and assessing everything you’ve been through. It might be too late to get your entire list of unfinished business done, but there are still opportunities to take care of some regrets or address some smaller items you had been putting off for too long.
The team at Above and Beyond Health Care and Hospice are familiar with clients who are interested in examining the good and the bad of their life so far and trying to find value in what they’ve accomplished.
While a precise decision or a definition of success really is up to the individual, our staff is definitely able to get involved in these conversations and encourage people to think of the good highlights from their life as a good starting place for self-exploration.
It’s easy enough, when you’re feeling bad or maybe even fearful about your current situation, to focus more on the negative. You could be in pain, thinking about your mortality and those you’re leaving behind, and focus more on the negative, the bad times, and what you could have done differently or what poor choices you’ve made.
But while it might take extra mental and emotional effort to examine the good things that have happened in your life, large and small, it could be an ultimately rewarding experience and help provide some needed peace – or at least fewer regrets.
Of course, this sounds easier than it might be in real life. You might have spent years trying to avoid some of these deep looks into yourself, your personal value, and your general goals in life. Or maybe you didn’t think you had time to think about these things if you were focusing on other important things like raising a family or working hard at a job.
But now, you can have the opportunity to dig a little deeper and look back. It could be a fun and useful exercise to help you feel good in your final days. Or begin to right some wrongs that you might feel bad about. This act can be done easily, with a phone call, a letter, an email or even by bringing people together.
It might require some tough conversations from you and from those you’re speaking to, especially if they touch on topics and feelings that haven’t changed, or even been addressed for years.
Perhaps there are old disputes from decades before or even pain from childhood, with different people creating grudges and holding different opinions. The original incident or incidents may even be forgotten or more knowledge may have been learned.
Even if all parties are generally comfortable with the status quo, someone taking the initiative to have these discussions and offer forgiveness and love – regardless of original fault or offense – can go a long way in everyone’s healing.
Related to looking for ways to unburden old grievances is the value of getting rid of stuff. Yes, your family may have the task of going through your stuff when you’re gone. To anyone who has done this for a parent, grandparent, or other loved one, this process can be physically and emotionally difficult.
While there might be some items that are financially valuable and others that have sentimental value attached, they won’t know what else to do with some of your other items.
Certainly, your will can list some specific plans for your property, including who gets certain items and how to dispose of the rest.
But what if you can do some of these things ahead of time, while you’re still around to make some of these decisions? This will reduce possible conflict or uncertainty in your family. It can let them focus on their grieving and dealing with their loss.
Getting rid of some possessions now can be good for your mental health as well. This can be done anytime, but the first week of August is a time that many people encourage this way of thinking.
Simplify Your Life Week encourages people to look for ways to downsize, refocus and generally declutter. It’s an opportunity to get rid of items in your life that can cause general stress. Some people who focus on helping people be better organized suggest getting started by getting rid of things that no longer bring you joy.
In the context of trying to help yourself find value in your final days, you can figure out what you’re happy to part with, and either mark items for certain people now, or bring everyone together to “claim” certain items – where you can set the rules. This can avoid hurt feelings or conflict later.
This may not heal everyone’s past pain, but it can be a good way of sharing that you’re eager to make things right.