Can we prepare ourselves now to better cope and remain nicotine free during some of life's more certain hurdles by looking ahead and visualizing the steps, process or even the emotions that may be associated with them? Although we each know that there is no legitimate excuse for relapse, the addict deep within knows that some excuses are easier to sell than others. Sadly, many recovered addicts use death as an excuse for relapse.
Death is as much a part of life as birth. If we continue to live we will each eventually lose someone we love. The death of our entire circle of friends and family is inevitable. Our parents will die, our brothers and sisters will pass away, our spouse or companion will eventually leave, our friends will each die, and sadly our children and grandchildren are all destined to eventually leave this world.
I spent time yesterday on the telephone with Debbie who is now a pack and a half into her nicotine relapse. Debbie's mother is in ICU on life-support where her condition is terminal. The end is very near and the family is coming to terms with what must naturally follow. Although the news hit Debbie extremely hard, she knows in her mind that her final goodbye is still ahead, as well as all the steps that normally accompany the death of a loved one.
A few years ago I held my mother in my arms as I watched her draw that final breath. Looking back, it was a very special moment but at the time I never felt more lost and alone. When I laid her down and turned off her oxygen machine it all seemed so final. They couldn't get their stretcher down the narrow hall to her room so I picked her up and carried her out. At the time I still smoked and afterwards I went into the backyard alone with just my sorrow, my memories and my nicotine.
It wasn't long before I found myself inside this big room with about fifty different styles of coffins and this man in a blue suit was telling Dad and I to take our time in picking one out. As the oldest son I also had to write a short statement for the obituary in the paper, I was asked to briefly speak for the family at the church service, I stood by her grave as her coffin was slowly lowered into the ground, and I was expected to handle all aspects of her estate. Many of my relatives smoked and there was lots of smoking every step of the way, even at mom's grave following the funeral.
My prayers are with Debbie and with all who must endure the loss of a loved one. Her quit was young and fragile and she fully understands that she used her deep sense of sorrow as her mind's excuse for relapse. I offer this post in hopes that it might cause others to visualize themselves enduring the death of a loved one, while at the same time keeping their quit safe and secure.
Like most of you, I have not yet experienced death as an ex-smoker. I still face the possibility of someday losing my father and other more senior family members. Although we can never be prepared to have them absent from our lives, we can prepare to NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!