Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Departures

We had a houseguest over the weekend - my husband's oldest friend - they've known each other since first grade. It's funny, because they couldn't be more different, yet they've stayed close all these years. Well, hubs probably has never seen a foreign film in his life, but J brought one with him called Departures. It is a Japanese film from 2008 and it is exquisite. It is about a young cello player who loses his job when his orchestra folds. He and his wife go back to his hometown to live in the home his mother left him. He applies for a job advertised as helping with departures, thinking it's a travel agency, but it turns out to be assisting with preparing bodies to be placed in coffins.

I won't give anything else away, but it was fascinating to learn about Japanese culture and its attitudes about the body and death. It made me realize that our culture, although we might do similar things, does not treat dying and death with the kind of dignity and respect I would like. Hospice workers are an exception to this. The ones I've worked with are exceptional and do treat the patient with kindness and respect.  But with retirement communities and assisted living facilities and nursing homes, our loved ones live with strangers, for the most part. We were lucky we could bring hubby's mom home to our house during her last month, and it was a sacred time for all of us.

The film has me thinking that each and every moment of each and every day is sacred. And how we speak to and treat one another should be sacred, too. Not just when someone is dying or has died. I don't want to take life or any one in it for granted. Not for one second. Departures taught me that.



welcome to my world of poetry said...

I have been saying that for years yet one member of my family refuses to speak or let me see his children, it's been 3 months now and I'm heartbroken despite having a lovely vacation .

Claudia Moser said...

I will for sure watch this movie!

Odie Langley said...

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer we had her returned to her home where my sisters and I looked after her. We had a marvelous year with her before she finally passed in 2002. It would have been so much worse if we had placed her in a rest home. I will also watch for the movie. Thanks

Joanne said...

Good thoughts to keep in mind. A little respect goes a long way in a kind word, a thoughtful gesture.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

It's a bit trite, but life really is too short. We never know when the last time we speak or visit with a loved one is, indeed, the Last Time. So we've gotta make the most of every moment, and end every visit with a hug and a smile.

Darlene said...

Great post. We need more respect in our culture.

Karen Walker said...

Yvonne, I am so sorry. I know how you feel because it has happened to me. Keep the faith that they will see the light.
Claudia, it was a very different kind of film
Odie, yes, we did that for my mother-in-law and it is very special.
Joanne, respect is so important.
Susan, amen.
Darlene, thanks

Hilary said...

Hi Karen .. respect for those who are ill, and especially near their end .. my mother fortunately is looked after as it's 24/7 and too much .. especially as we're now into the 5th year. We've been lucky .. and now especially - I spend as much time with her as I can .. and we've appreciated each other so much .. and I've learnt so much from my stroked mother, who can still communicate at times. The staff are pretty good and will be very kind at the end .. though I hope to be there.

Essential for our departure ... being sent with love from those here ... all the best Hilary

Liz Fichera said...

This post hits home for me. My parents are both in their final years and my sisters, brother, and I are having to deal with some of this. It's not easy.

Mary Clark said...

I loved that movie. It changed my whole attitude about seeing a body after death.

Karen Walker said...

Hilary, sounds like a very special time together, which is all we can hope for - to be there.
Liz, yes, it is hard. Sending you hugs.
Mary, me, too.

GigglesandGuns said...

The word "Departure" used when discussing death intrigues me. I'll have to look for this one. Thanks Karen.

Suze said...

Wow-- is it Tuesday, again, already!?

Another lovely telling of truth, my dear Karen. The sacred is everywhere. And everywhen. :)

Melissa Sarno said...

This films sounds really interesting. I am going to put it on my netflix.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

What a beautiful post, so thoughtful and insightful. It is sad how we have come to accept this progressive journey to the nursing home as expected and normal. Thanks for the supportive words on my post - you are hereby appointed to my Advisory Board! I am putting the big money on an illustrated cover and developing my marketing plan daily. That part scares me, but I am just going to ask, ask ask....people will be sick of me :-)

Karen Walker said...

GigglesandGuns, yes, I rather like the word used in that way as well
Suze, yup, another Tuesday - and yes, sacred is everywhere, if we only look
Melissa, hope you like it
Melissa, thank you. I will be happy to help in any way I can

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll look for that film!

Lauracea (Sue R) said...

We do shy from death and dead bodies in our Western cultures. Of course it's wrong, but I know I'm guilty myself and that saddens me. Lovely post, and one that has got me thinking.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great point, Karen...not taking our time with loved ones for granted! And remembering the sacred.

Dafeenah said...

Sounds like an amazing movie. You're absolutely right about treating death and dying with dignity. That is the one major difference I have noticed living overseas. The elderly are treated so differently here. There is no concept of nursing homes etc. The elderly live and are taken care of by their children and it is an honor not a burden.

Helen Ginger said...

You're so right, Karen. And yet we go through each day as if on remote control, not paying attention to each other.

Karen Walker said...

Alex, it's definitely on Netflix.
Lauracea, it's got me thinking as well.
Elizabeth, yes, taking time and not taking people for granted - so key
Dafeenah, yes, I love how other cultures revere their elders
Helen, I'm working hard at not being on automatic pilot as much as possible.

Jules said...

AMEN, sister! I hate the thought of my Grandmother in assisted living but it is where she wants to be.

And I had not heard from you for awhile which was why I thought I had upset you. No worries kind soul, all is good. Sometimes your words more me and I just want to email you and talk, another time. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Arlee Bird said...

I believe my email address is in my blogger profile. But here it is anyway:

jacksonlee51 at aol dot com

Tossing It Out

Helen Ginger said...

I need to follow your lead, Karen.

Karen Walker said...

Jules, so glad we're okay - just email me any ole time
Lee, if it's there, I missed it - so sorry
Helen, we can support each other