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Life/Loss/End of Life Intertwined

What's the difference between loss and end of life?

Photo of Christine Cress
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Life/loss/end of life are all intertwined to me and I think our difficulties and challenges with the end of life have so much to do with the first two. How are they separate and distinct from each other and what is the call to action for each? 

Life, to me, is about connecting. Not amassing tons of friends or square footage or cars or granite countertops. It's about connecting with the people that have been placed in your life or who you gravitate to. Loss is the focus of the people left behind- what they are losing when someone loses their capacity for life as we knew it or dies. It's about the lost opportunities- what we didn't do with them or will not be able to do again once they are gone. End of life is about facing the inevitable that all of us must face. For some it's about laboring through the difficulties on the human body before making a transition. I think to make the end of life easier for those that are facing it, we have to get cozy and aware of our feelings of loss and be aware of what we need to express it. Without that, end of life is overwhelming and difficult and like Jonathan Foust (featured post) said, we end up projecting our loss feelings all over the person with the end of life going on. 

I am no expert on end of life or loss. I almost feel like I have no business writing this. I am fortunate enough to have family members that have lived well beyond their 90's so I haven't had much loss in my life...yet. But sadly, all around me...the only funerals I've ever been to have been for children- where loss is more starkly illuminated than the end of life- even with the children who had terminal illnesses. I am not sure I am expressing what I want to very well. I think the point is, that how we live (connect) and how clear we are about our relationship to loss and our ability to express it- is directly linked to "how well" we support those at the end of life. Meaning- how well we talk about it with our children, how able we are to sit with loss for what it is, and how able we are to be with someone's human body discomfort while they labor out of their cocoon of life and emerge into death, wings in tact. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How does the way we live and the way we view loss impact our capacity to be fully present with the end of life?

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a mom first and foremost. Strangely, being at the heart/center of creation of human life also inspires thoughts about loss and death more than ever.

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Photo of Ron Russell

Christine,
I 100% agree with you.  We need to take the idea of "loss" and move it into our current now consiousness in a positive way to help provide direction, and really a path of what's important and to provide a way to view it through our lives.

Photo of James Takayesu

The projection of feelings onto those who we lose is so true - I have seen this many times in families experiencing unexpected loss.  These emotions can lead to reversing DNR orders and escalating care against previously expressed wishes.  Living in the present and making connections is so crucial to creating meaning and enjoying the time we have with each other.  You have expressed your ideas very well, thank you!