People our age have usually lost one or both parents. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles; they are gone as well. Sometimes we lose some of our friends to illness or accident. You go through a sort of “grief/relief” process; grief because they are your people and you love and miss them, and relief because they are no longer suffering.
While it’s never easy to watch one of our loved ones get old and infirm; we understand that this is part of life. Both my parents were in Hospice care at the end, and I was grateful for their help and kindness.
My parents were very accepting of death. As Mom slowly but graciously declined, she would get impatient now and then and drum her fingers on the sheets. I’d be sitting with her, and ask her what was going on. Her answer? “Let’s GO already! I’m ready to go!” Then we would laugh. I told her that even all of her bossiness could not speed up time, and to just relax and let things happen as they would.
A dear friend of hers kept making Mom her favorite cake (one that her aunts used to make), called “Southern Black Chocolate Cake.” Basically it was a rich chocolate cake in a 9″ square pan topped with marshmallows cut in thirds. When the cake was completely cooled, it was covered in a chocolate frosting that was nearly fudge. It was devine, and Mom couldn’t get enough of it. Her friend kept on baking those cakes for her until the end.
The few times Mom would get a bit depressed about leaving this earth, all any of us had to do was ask her if she wanted a piece of cake. That always perked her right up. Dad and I figured that, after she passed on, she had eaten most of the nine Southern Black Chocolate Cakes herself.
So what about the aftermath of grief? For me anyway, it is being reminded each day that both of my parents had good and full lives; that makes me happy. They lived and loved, and when their time came, they were not afraid, but looked toward the next adventure.
Of course, losing loved ones is hard; we go through a “grief/relief/grief” cycle. It’s normal; we miss them and we feel bad about the relief that we feel. But actually there is nothing bad about it; it’s a natural process. If our people who have gone on could speak directly to us after death, they probably would tell us that they are happy, that they love us always, and that when our own time comes, we will be amazed.
When I get sad and miss my people and pets, I put this thought right out in front of me: amazement. How bad could that be?