It's been quite the year... In the spring, I viewed my grandmother in an open casket. This summer I observed my fiance in a coma for a week. I finished off with a winter visit to see dissected human bodies (cadavers) at the local university. I cultivated a new level of appreciation for life to say the least.
Would you take the chance to see a cadaver if you had one?
It's creepy, fascinating and a privilege. The hands, feet and head are covered to maintain moisture, which also keeps the most realistic parts hidden from nervous eyes. Meanwhile, medical students become very comfortable with their cadavers. This is a blessing for those of us who find ourselves in the care of doctors and nurses. A cadaver is the medical students first patient.
We entered the room with large steel tables and body bags and I watched anxiously as the embalmer unwrapped the cadavers, but was quickly distracted by all the eyes going wide when the students held a real human brain for the first time (it's quite heavy). When they felt how tough the IT Band was and experienced the difference in thickness between a vein, artery and nerve, I was right there beside them. It's an honor to be an educator.
What about the smell? It's not pleasant, but it's worth it. Sort of like chopping an onion... (sort of) Having a better understanding of what's beneath our skin is priceless. Feeling more connected with the many structures and organs that support our every need cultivates a profound respect for the miracle of life.
This fueled the students desires to help people take care of their bodies.
Life is such a gift, isn't it? It's easy to take it for granted. Being able to smell, taste, touch, see and hear are the simple joys of life that afford us the ability to interact with the environment and people around us every day. To connect.
Each day we have on this planet - in a body that has hundreds of functions - is a blessing. Our bodies breathe air, pump blood, process thoughts, feel sensations and digest food - automatically. They move us from place to place, are fun to decorate, groom and play with. We get to make many choices thanks to the capabilities of the human body.
You could be a dead body at any moment. It could be tomorrow or 50 years from now. In the meantime, enjoy the touch of your pets, take pleasure in the beauty of your family members, connect with nature and taste each bite of food. Relax at the sound of rain and dance when you hear a song you like. Be present and find pleasure in the simple things.
Your body will continue to age (sorry but it's true), so appreciate it for what it is right now - in this moment and what it does for you with each breath. Even if it doesn't do what it used to. Even if you're frustrated with it. Find the positive. Notice its thriving functions.
Now - take a deep breath, relax your eye lids, smile and give your body a big hug!
If you think human dissection is cool, check out these facts - turns out our fascination with death is not so uncommon after all...
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I'd love to hear your thoughts about life death and any questions you have about experiencing a cadaver... Leave a comment at the bottom.