What Are Your Family Death Patterns?
There are family death patterns and beliefs about dying that if not understood and changed can cause your death. Two seemingly unrelated things happened last week that reminded me of my family death patterns.
On Friday, I played in a club tennis tournament with my “old fart” tennis buddies, one of whom is Dave Carey, pictured here. The picture was taken at Dave’s Birthday party held immediately following the tennis tournament at the Aston Park Clubhouse. After participating in the tournament, where Dave played about 3 hours of tennis, he then celebrated his 99th birthday. Dave plays tennis about three times a week in our round-robin doubles play.
Then Sunday night, Janae and I attended a concert performed by Loudon Wainwright III. He opened the evening by singing the title song on his new CD, “Older Than My Old Man Now.” He revealed that his dad had died at the age of 64 and had outlived his dad who died at the age of 43. Loudon, who is now 66, realized that he had outlived his Dad. Having three generations of men with the same first name also struck me as significant. His Dad wrote a column for Life magazine for many years and during his performance he read a few of his Dad’s columns.
It was obvious to me that his Dad had influenced him greatly in his music and he had great affection for his Dad but also some unprocessed anger. He also shared that when he was about 64 he got very sick and thought he was going to die. He also said that this new CD focuses on the Double D, “death and decay.” I wondered if this is his way of trying to get some completion with his Dad who probably died before Loudon was ready for him to go. It is hard to have unresolved issues with your Dad that you hope someday to get resolved and then he dies before that happens.
Death and Dying Is A Family Tradition
In my book, Breaking Family Patterns: How To Identify Your Family Patterns, I write about patterns of illness and death that run in families. Loudon’s sharing of the significance of being “older than his old man now” and his bout with illness and possible death about the same age of his father when he died reminded me of how these patterns operate. He apparently broke his family pattern not by trying to run away from it, but by embracing it and focusing on “death and decay” in his new music.
At Dave Carey’s birthday party I thought about my Dad, who like Dave Carey loved tennis, but he gave up playing tennis at about age 89. He told me he was afraid he would fall and break a hip. He lived to be 92. I wondered if he had continued playing tennis whether he might have lived longer. He too had outlived his Dad who died at about age 70. I remember that my Dad had a serious illness about the same age as his Dad had died. We never discussed how he was able to break through that family death pattern, but it must have been hard.
Breaking Family Death Patterns
I remember, when my Dad was 65 I wrote him a letter and told him all the things that I appreciated about him and what he had taught me. He was in tears when he called me to tell me how much he appreciated my letter. He thanked me over and over and then said to me, “I had wanted to write something like this to my Dad, but he died before I had a chance to do it. It is one of the biggest regrets of my life.” I am glad I didn’t wait to express my appreciations. It made the last 27 years we had together much better for both of us.
Having people like Dave Carey in my life reminds me of one way to overcome family death patterns: have relationships with people who are older than you. They serve as reminders that we don’t have to die to keep our family death patterns intact.
You may want to trace the illness and death patterns in your family back at least three generations, if possible. Once you make them conscious, they won’t unconsciously come and get you. I believe if we break our family patterns around illness and death, we can choose when and how we will die. This is one of the benefits of breaking your family patterns.
In another post I share a written exercise I did to help me break my family illness and death patterns. It is something you too can do. I wrote my own obituary.