When I was younger I did not think much about the human life cycle. I had so many years ahead of me that I thought life would just go on. As I age, though I feel young at heart, the years are adding up and I am no longer in the younger age category.
I have become more aware of the human life cycle continuum due to the passing of family and friends. I then look at my mother at age 91 years. She has had the opportunity to experience much change over the decades of her life. When she was born it was uncommon for people to have a phone in the home; there were no airlines; few cars, no computers; no social media; no supermarkets; and only snail mail. The human life cycle continued, though life was simpler.
The human life cycle has six phases. Commencing as a foetus, then a baby, a child, an adolescent, adult and finally older person. The human life cycle came to the fore in my life this past week. My great-nephew Harry was born in Sydney. Harry is beginning his life and a good life it will be. He is a healthy baby with wonderful parents and family. He was born and will grow up in a first world country. This morning on the radio I heard James Bennett, South Asia correspondent for the ABC. He spoke of a baby born on a forest floor while her unassisted mother feared for her life. The mother is a Rohingya refugee having fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. The life cycle for that baby will be very different to Harry’s and very different to mine. We live on the same planet, breath the same air, have the same emotions and desires but not the same opportunities. It is very courageous of James Bennett to bring the story to us in our first world nation. It must be very confronting when lives are worlds apart and a journalist, as one person, in a foreign land, is powerless to change the situation.
This brings me to the other end of the life cycle, the older person. This is where I am. Now, my main goal is to bring fulfillment into my latter years. It is much easier for me than for a Rohingya woman my age. Breathing the same air, beating her breast with the pain and sorrow for what she witnesses. Perhaps death, is a welcome relief in her situation. Death was on my mind, as an “older person”, this past week.
As we reach the end of the human life cycle it is not uncommon to think about death. What will this mean for me, mean for my loved ones and what is it like when I transition? What is on the “other side”? Whatever our beliefs about what happens after death, it is an appointment we all must keep.
To get ready for “our” appointment, my “One & Only” (O&O) and I made an appointment to arrange our funerals. While Harry was taking his first breath we were planning what would happen after we took our last breath – this is the human cycle of life. It was not something I looked forward to, planning my own funeral, until I began to think about it and plan. My O&O and I looked at the coffins at the funeral home and ended up choosing the same one. I listened to many of my favourite music deciding what I would have at my funeral service, what flowers I would have. I enjoyed the experience of making decisions about what would happen at my final farewell. Although, I won’t be there, at least physically, I gained satisfaction knowing that my choices will show parts of my personality. Soon after the day my life cycle ends, my choices will be shared with others.
The experience of funeral planning may not be one that we look forward to but I found it liberating. At the same time, I hope the appointment is a long way away. For now, I have a life to live!