In times of sorrow

Three experiences of dealing with death

In the past few months several of my friends have had devastating losses within their families. I've witnessed their sadness, shock, courage and strength as they struggle through these very difficult times. I've been extremely impressed by how they have handled themselves and their families during this process.

I've decided to write about the experiences of three friends who, although sharing the same experience of death, had different experiences in the process of death. I've discussed this article with them and asked to use their experiences, minus names of course, and they've agreed. Please do not focus on the loss; I want you to focus on the experiences of the process after death occurred.

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Friend #1 is extremely angry, hurt and disgusted by how some people are behaving after the loss of their family member. Not even an hour after the final breath, people were asking about bank accounts, trust funds, property, etc. Since the final breath, this person's home and property have been raided by those who think they have the right to do such things. No respect for the person who has passed, no respect for the grieving family; all these people seem to be focused on is what they can get that's worth a few bucks. The person who passed had very little, yet since the passing, what little this person had has become a hot commodity.

My friend is struggling to cope with this sudden loss and having to deal with the vultures that keep swooping down to grab what's left is really making the healing process that much more difficult. My friend's heart is broken, her soul is wounded, and these people displaying utter disrespect for the family really should be ashamed of themselves for making a horrible situation even worse by being so greedy.

Friend #2 is also struggling with the passing of her loved one and is working hard to make the necessary adjustments to her life. Her experience with death is a bit different; there was time to make arrangements, make decisions and say goodbye.

The loved one who passed made their wishes known, so when it came time to make decisions near the end, my friend made sure the wishes were followed. Organ donation was the final wish of this ever-loving and generous person. This person even made jokes about what could be harvested, making a serious discussion lighter by making it funny.

My friend recently received a thank you letter and green awareness ribbon pin, which is an international symbol of support for organ and tissue donation, from the Eye Bank of British Columbia, which not only expressed its condolences, but also its thanks for the donation of her loved one's corneas.

This got me thinking: Am I an organ donor? It's not on our driver's licenses anymore; we have to register to be an organ donor. Check out http://www.transplant.bc.ca for registration information. Make sure that your nearest and dearest know your final wishes in regards to organ donation. Your gift could be a gift of life.

My friend will struggle with this loss for a long time, but knowing her loved one could change the life of a visually impaired person brings a little happiness and pride into this picture.

Friend #3 also had time to say goodbye, and in her situation, the loved one had everything planned. There was no question as to what was going to happen with everything. Every last detail was taken care of so the family didn't have to deal with things that tear other families apart, like finances. My friend and their family had the luxury of saying goodbye without the stress, hassles and embarrassment of a funeral feeding frenzy.

Losing a loved one is difficult in the best of circumstances, and it's human nature to be lost and confused during the process that follows. Seeing my friends go through such a hard time and watching as they try to adjust their lives to accommodate these losses has been eye-opening. I am so very proud of my friends for handling their losses with their eyes wide open as to what their loved ones would have wanted in the end. Respect at the end of life - that's what we should all strive for.

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