Paul's Passing Thoughts

Memorial to Kent is a Pondering for Me

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 16, 2018

ppt-jpeg4On Saturday, March 18, family and friends will gather at a local restaurant to celebrate my brother’s life. That’s a familiar way of stating it in regard to his memorial. I suppose it is a celebration of sorts, anyway, I was unable to come up with anything else to begin this writ so that will do.

Emotions are an intricate part of life; part of life itself, a primary motivator. We will experience sadness, anger, happiness, and joy, but of course, the ultimate goal of life is peace and happiness. While happiness is the utopia we all seek, life possesses an array of useful and necessary emotions. Presently, that is. I think we know intuitively that something as wonderful as life will have a happy ending. Nevertheless, much of life’s wisdom entails a good perspective on emotions. The very definition of mental health is the ability to cope with life and the topic of emotions is central to that.

There is no bigger elephant in the room of life than death. To the degree that we reconcile death with life, we conquer life. Ultimately, real present happiness has a solid philosophy of death unless one is living a lie. If you have no perspective on death, the bigger you live will determine how hard you fall.

The Bible has an interesting perspective on this subject; when times are good we should rejoice, but when times are bad we should ponder. While celebrating my brother’s life on Saturday, I would hope that we learn something from his life as well. In death, there is always much talk about what the deceased “would want.” It is safe to assume that those who loved us in this life would want us to be wiser about the life they have left behind.

As a Christian, my way of dealing with death was getting everyone saved because, like most people, I like it when life is simple. So far, so good; everyone really close to me who has passed was a professing Christian. The “they are in heaven” thing tempered the pain. They are in heaven, all is well, we can all move on now. That was easy.

That worked until my grandmother died. Kent and I had a very deep history with my grandparents who lived in Portsmouth, Ohio. Well, it was certainly no mystery to anyone who knew my grandmother that she was a Christian along with every other opinion she had on life. In fact, I can’t remember any life topic that she didn’t have a truism for. In regard to people living together out of wedlock; “Well, of course, they are living together, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” She could have easily started her own denomination.

But I never got over her death. The easy button didn’t work with her. I was continuously haunted by her death. That was about 30 years ago, and I have never returned to Portsmouth, Ohio and probably never will. Too many memories that are gone from the living but still in my mind. Why did I react this way to her death? Why did the easy button not work? That’s not important; what is important is what I learned from her death. I learned that it is not only alright to not “get over” someone’s death and fail to “move on with life,” but God Himself doesn’t get over it; death is not alright with God. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that death is God’s enemy, and will be the last enemy that He defeats.

Per the usual, death is rarely about the person who died only. I learned from my Grandmother’s death that it is alright not to accept death because God doesn’t except it. Refusing to accept death is being like God; it is part of the bearing of His image. The next lesson came with Kent’s death and a particular young lady I worked with at a nursing facility. She heard about Kent’s passing and some of the relative facts surrounding it, and as a result, asked me a certain question every time I saw her in the hallways at work; “Paul, how is your mother?” And as the weeks passed, “Paul, is your mother still doing well?”

This is a person who didn’t know me well or my family at all, so the ongoing question really made me stop and ponder, and as a result, the answer came. In death, as in all things that rob us of peace and happiness, and things that concern us or even frighten us, we look for a happy ending. A happy ending is all we have left. For her, mom doing well after Kent’s death was the happy ending.

God hates sin and the result of sin which is death. I’m sure he saw it coming, but He never chose it. He allowed it because freewill is a foundation of reality and true love. But nevertheless, God will decide the end of the story, and He is a God of happy endings. Happiness is God’s goal; death is His enemy.

The fact is, people that we associate with, and live with, form who we are. It’s not everything that makes us who we are, but it is a large part of it. In healthcare, there is a term referred to as “homeostasis.” This is the “maintenance or regulation of the stable condition or its equilibrium.” But, what is normal for every person will vary, and will be constantly in flux. When we age, we have new normals. We can’t run as fast as we did twenty years ago, that’s our new normal. This defines the rest of our life in many different ways for better and worse. We may not run as fast, but hopefully we are wiser.

Hence, when someone attached to our life dies, a piece of us dies with them. It is said that time heals most things, but really it doesn’t, it just aides us in arriving at our new normal. When someone near to us dies, we change. The new normal will lesson us in some ways, but it should also make our new normal stronger as well. The wonder of life is “bittersweet” as God works toward the happy ending; the Bible states this specifically.

I think all who die want the same thing; they want those whom they left behind to find their happy ending. Kent, knowing that his end was not far away, began writing his ending, he sought a happy one, and he shared it with me and others. For those of us left behind, we must choose the end of our story; inevitably, it is the most important thing we have left to do, and what those who pass, “would want.” We must now honor their lives with how we write our own story.

When those who pass, especially those we loved, were with us, the world had a different feel. They were not with us all the time in our everyday comings and goings, but how we experienced life was different because we knew they were here on earth with us doing something. Perhaps we would call them to find out what exactly. Now we are sad because the opportunity to be with them face to face has passed, but yet, what we are as a result of our relationship with them still abides in the same memories, hopes, and thoughts that existed when they were on earth with us.

Hence, the life we have as a result of our experience with them remains the same, except when we remember that we cannot see them face to face for now. They can no longer help us write our story nor the end of it, we must now do that without them, but when we are in our normal comings and goings, it feels like they are still with us…

…because they are, and a memorial is the sharing of that presence that is still with us, and makes us who, and what we are, and what we will hopefully be in the future.


5 Responses

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  1. Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on March 16, 2018 at 11:23 AM

    Thank you so much for this!


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on March 16, 2018 at 3:29 PM

      My pleasure.


  2. John said, on March 18, 2018 at 5:34 AM

    Yes, when one is faced with one’s own mortality (or the possibility that it’s closer than one ever could have imagined), life also takes on a different feel. Death is indeed an enemy, but ultimately . . .

    I appreciate your sharing this personal part.

    Blessings to your mom, especially.


  3. Barbara said, on March 19, 2018 at 7:05 AM

    Sorry I missed this when you posted it. Wonderful piece Paul, with so many thought-provoking and encouraging statements. This is hard stuff. You bring peace, freedom and accuracy. I had a strong relationship with my beloved and loving parents. Along with eventually caring for them in my home for years before their deaths finally came, they became even more part of my existence. Of course their were trials but my experience was a treasure-house of learning and wonderful memories. I always wish I could have done more. The love you Paul are able to see and share with others is also a profound treasure. I hope that love was realized by others last Sunday. Praying for you always.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on March 19, 2018 at 7:46 AM

      Thanks Barb. Susan wrote a poem for my brother that was read at the memorial yesterday. Will be posting it at some point.


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