"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.

*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***

http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"

Showing posts with label death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts

Thursday, June 19, 2014

At the Three Year Mark

Well, today marks three years since my husband died.  Three years that sometimes seems to have been an eternity, and other times seems to have gone by in a heartbeat.  Depends on which day you ask me.

As I was driving home from work last night around 10 p.m. I suddenly felt very quiet inside, and a little empty.  The very next song that came on the radio made me tear up a bit.  I didn't know what was wrong with me.  It's not "that time of the month!"

During the drive home (it's a 30 min drive) I thought about what might be causing this sudden melancholy.  As I tried to shake this feeling, I switched gears to thinking about the rest of the week and what I had planned.  Then it dawned on me - today is the 18th of June.  And that meant that tomorrow (well, today as I write this) is June 19th.

THE day. 
June 19th, 2011 - Father's Day, that year.

They say that your conscious mind may not remember right away, but your body remembers.  Your unconscious always remembers; always keeps track of the days and dates.  And even though I don't mark time now quite the same way that I have over the past few years, I still am brought face to face with certain days - whether I want to be or not.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Having an End of Life Discussion

For many of us, it's difficult to have a talk with our family members about our "end of life" wishes.  We don't have to talk about it with them because, for some reason, we think that talking about it will:
  • upset them (or upset us)
  • make it happen faster
  • make it more "real"
  • make them think we are waiting for their death
We may think it's too soon to talk about death.  The truth is that it's never too soon.  The difference between a good death and a difficult death seems to hinge upon whether the dying person has shared their wishes.

Robby and I talked about our wishes, but (unfortunately) never in a very serious way.  Robby always joked that he wanted a black gospel choir to sing at his funeral.  He loved gospel music and grew up playing bluegrass and gospel, so it was an obvious choice for him.  Unfortunately we don't have any all-black churches or gospel choirs in the area.  But my daughter did find a recording of a gospel singer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing "Peace In The Valley."  We played it at Robby's service.

Knowing what kind of care your loved one wishes can make their passing much easier - for them and for you.  We (my daughters and I) were able to plan a memorial service that we knew would make Robby proud, from the music to the Marine Honor Guard to the BBQ and beer we offered at the get-together after the service.  We could picture him, watching the whole thing from heaven, smiling and laughing as we told stories and shared memories of him and all that he loved.

If you are wondering where to start, check out The Conversation Project.  Here you can find a starter kit that will help to break the ice, and make your discussion much easier.  You can also see what others have said about their final wishes.

It's never too soon to have a talk like this.  And it doesn't have to be a "grim reaper" talk.  Having these talks around the kitchen table, before the doctor's office or the emergency room, lessens stress for everyone.

What is something you would like to tell your family about your final wishes?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye with Hospice

We learned a few things about saying goodbye during our short experience with hospice.  The main thing I learned was that no matter how much time you have, it's never as long as you think.  You never believe how quickly the time slips away, even though you have been told how rapidly it will be gone.

Take that time to connect with your loved one where they are emotionally.  If they want to talk about memories, then talk about that.  If they want to have a heart to heart chat about their mortality, don't shy away from that topic.  Be honest and direct.  Tell them what is in your heart, and how they have impacted your life.  Tell them they won't be forgotten, and they mattered to you.  Most of all, let them guide the conversation.  Respond to what they have to share with you.

Robby and I never really got to have these talks.  Because of the tumor he really couldn't talk much from the time it was diagnosed, and it only got worse.  The hardest part was not hearing him say "I love you."  He was one of those guys that would tell me he loved me half a dozen times per day.  He would call to check in with me during the day, and he (we) never hung up the phone or walked out the door without saying we loved each other.  Not hearing that for such a long time, and at some point realizing I would never hear his voice again, was heartbreaking.

As their life draws to a close, people tend to withdraw.  They "close in" and sports, politics or what's on TV in the next room doesn't matter.  All that matters is the immediate, the physical.  I'm hot. I'm cold. I love you.  Do you love me?  Be present with them, and listen.  Be quiet and respond.  Hold their hand and let them know you are there.  That is the best gift you can give them as they die.  To be a witness to their life and their death.  And to make sure they are not forgotten.