Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

Journey Into Wholeness

What can we learn from the dying?

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. ” 

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Kosumosu 3

In my previous post “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine: Song about Ordinary Happiness” I wrote about dying persons whose lives were well lived. Unfortunately, not everyone lives a fulfilled life.  Even so, every dying person has something to teach the living.

One day a nurse informed me of a new patient who declared at the time of hospice admission that she refused to be taken care of by anyone other than white staff.  The patient whom we call Ruth was a white woman in her 9o’s, a successful business woman who was wealthy and highly educated.  It seemed that Ruth had done quit well for herself, especially for a woman of her generation, yet she was a very angry person.

Many of our hospice aides were African Americans, so Ruth refused their care.  Since hospice was not going to accommodate her demands, Ruth hired private care givers who took turns to stay with her around the clock. Except for the hired staff very few people visited her, if any.

Most of our nurses were white, so we didn’t think Ruth would have a problem with them.  But she gave such a hard time for the nurses that on many days I saw them coming out of her room in tears.  Ruth was not only a racist but also a mean person.  As a result, she alienated herself from everyone.

Ruth’s heart must have been filled with fear and pain, since fear breeds hate and pain breads anger.  Her life was a life of tragedy.  Even though she was wealthy, educated, and successful, her life was not well lived.  She lived angry and died the same way.  When we die, we can’t hide how we’ve lived.

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. ” Eleanor Roosevelt said.  What I learned from Ruth is this:  If we want to die peacefully with our hearts filled with love, that’s the way we must live.

6 comments on “What can we learn from the dying?

    • Yumi
      November 25, 2013

      Hi Sue,
      Thank you so much for re-blogging my post!

  1. lmjapan
    November 25, 2013

    It’s so sad to read about someone like Ruth. It seems like she had it all and yet she couldn’t find any happiness. Worse yet, she had to lash out at others to try and make herself feel better. I appreciate how you wrote about her with such compassion and understanding. Many people would be content to just call her out as a bitter, old shrew but you took the time to look in to Ruth’s heart and understand her pain.

    • Yumi
      November 26, 2013

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, it is sad to see someone like Ruth whose heart is filled with anger. Hopefully we can learn from her mistakes and choose love over hate.

  2. socialbridge
    December 3, 2013

    It’s hard not to feel sorry for Ruth and to wonder what the circumstances were that led to her ultimate sadness. It goes to show that material wealth does not necessarily lead to emotional wealth ~ and I think the latter is something we really need at the end of our lives.

    • Yumi
      December 4, 2013

      Yes, her story shows us that money can’t buy happiness… I, too, wondered what happened to her life, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to work with her due to her reluctance to speak to anyone outside her race. It was a very sad case but an important learning experience.

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2013 by in Hospice, Living & Dying and tagged , , , .
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