Allow Natural Death

Archive for May, 2010

Two grandmothers have the “talk”

I know two grandmothers who believed that it was important to talk about their eventual death. I also know how this desire to speak about dying was received by their respective grandchildren. Nona was informed by the old ways of life and death. Things were basic and clear in her world; tend your loved ones by feeding them very well and love them fiercely. Her nearly snarling “I love you” was often accompanied by a good hard pinch. From the time when his memories of her began, she reminded her grandson, ” I’ll be gone someday. I will die. I won’t be here anymore.” These words were not delivered with high emotion. They were a basic statement of fact. An observance of the obvious nature of life as she had already lived it; people die. I will too. So will you. And so when she had a massive stroke at the age of 92, her grandson was able to gracefully participate in her care until her family allowed her a natural and comfortable death only a few days later. Her family had been well prepared by her own willingness to state the obvious. While she may die, her fierce love for them would stay. No surprises.

Another grandmother contemplated her own passing with some concern for her first grandchild. A young woman in her early thirties, who had been absolutely devoted to her grandmother from the start. She shared large parts of her life with the older woman who thrived on the acknowledgment of her hard won secrets of life. But when this grandmother tried to talk about her eventual death with her granddaughter, she was met with, “that’s enough. I don’t want to hear it”. She was a person who meant what she said and that was the end of it.

But this grandmother knows that she could comfort her granddaughter, before her death, only if her granddaughter was brave enough to hear it. She would find peace knowing that if death were to come, and she knows it will, she will have had one last chance to try to explain to this sensitive granddaughter the depth of her love and the pure joy she has brought to her life. She needs to tell her that this love will continue even after she is gone. No surprises.