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The Long Lonely Walk

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Death is hard to live with. In times gone by we grew up around death. People died of illness and in childbirth and were cared for by their families and local health providers. People were held in state in their homes after death for the mourners to come. In days gone by, we saw, heard and smelt the beginnings and end of life, and lots in between.

Animals were slaughtered on farms and small holdings. People kept animals for food and we grew up around the beginning and the end of life.

Our lives are now sanitised. We do not like to think of death, we do not see it, it makes us uncomfortable. We do not speak about death and dying with our children. The elderly live among us but the infirm have been locked away since Victorian times. Sanatoriums were originally designed to be safe havens for those unable to cope with wider society, but they became somewhere to hide those, society did not want to see.

We lost our tolerance for the darker side of life.

Today we expect the sick to be in hospital, or somewhere they can be looked after such as a ‘home’, we often hear discussion about how someone should ‘do something’.

Elderly are allowed in public but only the functional ones that behave like us. If they eat dinner noisily or dribble their food they rarely go to restaurants, for fear others will be uncomfortable and embarrass them with derogatory comment. Heaven forbid should their clothing smell of damp or urine.

Animals are seen in fields but they are transported to factories to be processed away from our eyes, how many of us would eat meat if we had to kill it and process it ourselves?

We are unprepared to cope with death.

Death in old age can be a challenge. It’s a long journey of hospital appointments, decreasing ability, decreasing independence. It’s usually invaded by professionals from all areas, banks, health services, utility companies, all with demands to ensure capacity, capability etc. As ability reduces, and help is needed, independence requires more and more involvement from others, privacy disappears.

Watching family members slowly experience this, can be soul destroying

Dad spent his life learning, he believed one should never assume anything, always check facts, and always answer questions you have with evidence. He felt strongly that one is as young as one thinks and behaves, learning keeps you alive, interest is your strength throughout your life.

Gardening was one thing Dad had an interest in. He lost his own father at a young age and was very poor. As a child, he was taught by an uncle how to garden to feed his family. His uncle showed him how to grow weeds to eat. He taught himself how to grow other things, starting with food and moving on during his life to more exotic plant life.

I enjoyed plants and the country but did not garden until after Dad died.

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