The Bright Hour

A Book Review: “The Bright Hour” by Nina Riggs

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People tease me about being too interested in death and I do see the subject as something to be explored. After all, it is the last and greatest mystery of all time. We won’t know what it’s like until it’s our death and then we won’t be able to share details. Therefore, I wonder about the subject.

While “The Bright Hour” subtitle is “A Memoir of Living and Dying” I saw it as much more about living. Nina Riggs faces death from terminal breast cancer while she is witnessing the death of her Mother from a blood cancer. Riggs is in her late thirties with two children. She and her husband face cancer with strength and even humor.

The author manages to find beauty and truth because she looks for it. She is brave and she shares her most personal hopes, fear, and treatments. I recommend this book. It will make you smile and maybe shed a tear.

“It’s mostly just normal human drama, negotiating life with your kids, your parents, your partner, your friends, you job, your home, your pets, etc. It’s life.” Nina Riggs

 

Born Terminal

Recently I attended three funerals in one week. Each deceased person was different in so many ways, e.g., age, interests and family unit left behind. But one thing was consistent, each left a hole in the hearts of those surviving. When someone we know dies we are usually shocked. We use words that mask the reality of death. He or she has “passed, gone on or left us” when in fact the person is dead. How we fear that word and that reality. Why is it so hard to accept that we are all born terminal. We will all die. This is no way negates the loss and pain of losing a person we care about but if we could at least acknowledge that life ends for each person surely we would be better prepared for our own death as well as that of others.

We need to move beyond “if something happens to me” to “when I die.” It is inevitable.

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Photo by Pixabay

Death – Intro

Introduction

How many times have you heard someone say, “If something happens to me?” Have you said this? Often, perhaps? I know this may not be what you want to hear, but I must tell you, it is not “if,” but “when.” And, it is not “something,” but it is “death.” Practice with me, say, “When I die.” Did you say it aloud? How did it make you feel? My purpose in this exercise is not to make you uncomfortable, but to help you acknowledge you will die. Of course, you know it intellectually, we all do, but we live and speak as though it is not certain. I am not referring to religious beliefs about the hereafter, but about the here and now. Once we accept the fact we are all born terminal, it is easier to make certain practical decisions. It is more likely we will have important family discussions.

In future posts I plan to examine this subject in more depth. The goal is that, as a result, you will take positive steps to help yourself and your family face this most difficult day that will come to each of us. I also hope you will trust me that this topic can be brought into the light in a way that alleviates some of the dread often associated with the word “death”.

We will examine some of the decisions that need to be made through legal documents and family discussion. We will look at funeral planning and resources available. We will definitely discuss ways to comfort those who grieve, e.g., what to say, not say. If there is adequate interest and feedback, this series can encompass topics such as suicide, CPR, hospice and more.

Thank you for beginning this discussion with me. Soon, we will look at Living Wills and other documents that each of us needs to have in place. Meanwhile, I would like to hear your initial reaction/thoughts regarding our approaching this subject together.

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“Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true story teller who would keep that from you.” Ernest Hemingway