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Passing: A Physical Therapists Thoughts on Life and Death December 20, 2010
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Matthew Goodemote MPT, Dip MDT About the Author
Matthew Goodemote MPT, Dip MDT

I found out yesterday that a friend from high school, Dave Perna, died in his sleep over the weekend. Death typically shocks me, but Dave’s passing was a shock in a different way.
 
Death has been a difficult issue for me. I have come to see how everything dies, in the sense that everything comes to an end. I have reflected on this for years and it is only recently that I have really understood the significance of what the ending really means and why it is so meaningful.
 
My way of reflecting on the events of life started because of death. It was my grandmother’s passing that confused and upset me so much that I simply had to understand why it was necessary. The death of my grandmother was an event that literally stopped me in my tracks. I simply couldn’t go on with my life as I had previously. So when the news came about my classmate Dave, I was shocked to hear of his death, but I was even more shocked to feel for the first time that life would go on- because I now understood what life really was.
 
My grandmother’s death was the beginning of my life, in a sense, and I hated that this new beginning came to me because of her death. In the past, when someone died I didn’t really grasp that it was over. I was always left with a sense that I would see them again and that it was more a dream than reality. It’s almost like I wasn’t able to comprehend the finality of the event. I would replay what had happened, I would re-live my memories, and somehow this prevented me from grasping the reality of the ending.
 
Last night, I dreamed that my high school friends and I were celebrating the life that Dave shared with us. We were all young in my dream and we were all truly celebrating the fun times, but at the end of the dream, we came face to face with reality and with it came grief, the grief of a loss that no words can describe and the grief that honors what a person meant to our life and for that matter, what that person meant to life itself.
 
I am thankful for the times I remember about my friend Dave, and I can honestly say I can’t find a bad memory of him from my high school years. There is one New Year’s Eve party at his sister’s house that I remember vividly. It was one he and I laughed about for years.
 
I remember his facial expressions and his love of heavy metal music. He was a genuinely nice guy and had a great sense of humor. I remember a lot of good, and for me that represents a life well lived. His impact will be one that is felt for years to come and his family can be assured that there are people that knew him who will remember him and be grateful for having known him.
 
This life’s ending was abrupt and unexpected. Somehow, this offers me a perspective that I simply can’t find from events that are not so final. Death was the very first time I remember reflecting on life itself and this death confirms the importance of this process. Often we convince ourselves that an event or a thought lives on, but the reality is, they all come to an end, too. Even though it was clear that my grandmother’s life had ended, my unwillingness to let it go actually kept it alive. When a friend of mine’s brother died, I realized that it was OK to let go of the thoughts and events that surrounded my grandmother. This letting go brought peace and with it the realization that it wasn’t the events or thoughts of my grandmother that made it possible for me to carry her with me, it was love…pure and simple. It is love that lives and it is love that needs no thought or event to bring it to life. It’s the opposite. Love is what brings the life to the events. 
 
Putting our attention on love instead of the events is the doorway to peace. Noticing how love doesn’t move or change even though our thoughts constantly change and the events are permanently changing. It is not the event that provides the peace. It is not the event that provides love. It is love that provides peace. It is love that provides love.
 
It is easy to “forget” this and focus on events and the ups and downs of life, but if you can stop and reflect for a minute, you will notice that even in the most painful, grief-stricken moment of your life, it is love that never budged. It is this love that brings peace.
 
I remember the day it dawned on me that it was love that had survived my grandmother’s end. It was love that was the foundation of my reflection on life when my grandmother died. It took nearly 30 years after my grandmother’s passing for me to realize that love was the foundation. It is so clear to me now that love is what lives even after we die. It is love that matters, not the events themselves. It is love that deserves the attention, because with love as the focus, the peace will find its way into our heart. It is love that remains constant and eternal.
 
To Dave’s family and friends, my heart pours out love and the hope that in the midst of the grief, his untimely end will be the confirmation that love is what brought him into existence, carried him through his life, and is where he now returns. He will be missed and remembered- with love.



Matt GoodemoteMatthew Goodemote is the founder and owner of Community Physical Therapy & Wellness in Gloversville, NY. He has degrees in Exercise Science, Health Science, Physical Therapy, and he is one of just over 250 in the world with a Diploma from the McKenzie International Spine Institute. Matthew is recognized as an expert in the fields of Physical Therapy, orthopedics, spinal disorders, sports medicine, and wellness. He is routinely called upon to offer tips and suggestions relating to health and wellness. His unique approach makes him a highly sought after expert at different ends of the media spectrum. He has received requests to participate in studies for scientific journals, and to write articles for trade magazines and popular press magazines such as Fitness to offer proven recommendations that stand the test of time. More of Matt’s blogs can be found at http://www.matthewgoodemote.com/blog/.

The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.
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