On Death and Dying and Friendship

I've seen a lot of people die. I remember them all. Remember where they died and how they died, even how they lived. Because I can and do remember them, in a way, no one has ever died. What strikes me the most about David Bowie's death is how he made his life and his cancer, his own. He left the world as he lived it. Both were his creation. In the weeks and months ahead, some of his closest friends will understandably wish he had let them play a role in his death, wish he invited them to his bedside and into the final moments of his life. It's a hard pill to swallow to love someone and not be chosen by them or cared for by them at the end of their life as they face the darkness alone. We all die alone. We all take that final step alone, letting go of everything and everyone that make up our lives alone. Sometimes the darkness brings with it primal fears of the unknown, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes doctors limit participations. Sometimes patients do. No two people die or live the same way. There's an old aphorism in hospice that, more often than not seems to hold true: we die as we live. David Bowie's death, like his life, was his creation. From what I know of his art, he always let others put the period at the end of his sentences. He never did that for anyone. He always gave his audience an implicit, if not always an explicit role, even though they may not have known this at the time. He brought his art to the world and let the world draw their conclusions. The manner in which he died seems consistent with the manner in which he lived. I hope his friends and those who loved him but were not with him at his death or a part of his cancer, remember that as he let go of his attachment to this world, nothing diminished.

Death ended a life but not a relationship.

Relationships live beyond death. There is no period at the end of life when there is a loving relationship in life.

Love conquers death.

I hope his friends can come to know this.