I guess we are reaching the age where those around us are starting to pass away. Though my husband has lost two good friends to cancer in the last 10 years, death seems to be surrounding us lately.
My MIL’s husband died rather suddenly a year ago this past December. He had been fighting cancer for a year, and no one knew how much it had spread. By the time they realized how ill he was, we really didn’t have time to process it. Up until the last couple weeks, we thought he would recover. It was very hard on our son, for this was the only grandfather he ever knew. Son was alone with him during his last moments.
Right now my husband’s sister is busy dying three states away. She has had hospice service three times in the last two years, but always recovered. Then came this most recent hospitalization. A life-time smoker, she has emphysema, has had at least 3 small strokes, and numerous heart attacks. It’s a tough way to go out. I struggle to have sympathy for her as she continued to smoke even after her emphysema diagnosis. They full on resuscitated her on Sunday and put her on some sort of life support, which they have now withdrawn at her request. We don’t expect her to last through tonight. Her husband, L, strained all the family relationships. I’ve known him 35 years and he’s only had three jobs in all that time, only one of those lasted a year. The only reason he had that job was because they were living with my MIL and her husband, and L was working with him. As soon as he lost that job, they kicked them out. Too bad my SIL had to suffer the consequences of his actions. I suppose though, she made the choices she felt were best for her. Luckily they never had children. My husband regrets she is so far away from her family, with no one near her but her rotten husband. He regrets not making more of an effort to see her before she died. My husband will feel her passing rather keenly even though it has been more than 10 years since they saw each other, due to physical distance, they were still siblings.
We lost a dear dear friend last Spring. He was a very special person to a lot of people, not the least of which was his own family. He was ill for ten years and he had lots of time to prepare, but also had hope of surviving somehow. He was determined to live every moment as if it were his last. It allowed him to take the trip of a lifetime, teach his grandkids how to fish, and create a lot of art. In his last month he admitted to my husband, his best friend, that he was afraid. Husband asked him what he was afraid of. There is nothing at the end. No heaven, no hell. He was able to make his peace with his spirituality and passed peacefully with his family around him. I don’t think anyone could ask for anything better.
Just a week ago my husband’s cousin died unexpectedly of a blood clot during a routine knee surgery. Apparently a blood clot got loose and was in his brain before they knew what was happening. It was a shock. Husband can count his living relatives on two hands, having lost 5 other family members in the last 15 years. He feels each death a little more and feels he will be the last of his family.
We don’t expect my MIL to last the year, but we’ve been saying that for 25 years. She too is a life-long smoker despite numerous heart attacks, and COPD. She has had both her carotid arteries stented. I can’t count the number of times she has been in the hospital. A few years ago she had a defibrillator implanted. It will restart her heart if it stops. And still she smokes. What an awful habit. Worse than heroin addiction. Personally, I think she’s so afraid of dying that she won’t, and with a defibrillator to restart her heart, I’m not sure she can. I look at how she has lived these extra 25 years and wonder what her regrets are. If I had been given an extra 25 years I think I would’ve done more with my time, but I suppose she passed the years happily enough and I don’t judge.
My father died a few years ago, and I didn’t know about it until he was gone about 1 year. I was not ‘invited’ to his funeral due to a long falling out with the family. I was in fact left out of the obituary. I felt absolutely nothing in his passing. I hadn’t seen/spoken to him in more than 10 years at the time. Occasionally I wonder after my mother’s health, but have made no effort to reconnect. Pretty sure she will also pass away without my knowledge. Though since my husband follows a couple of my sisters on Facebook, I might.
Death to me is an abstract. It has touched my life many times in just the past few years. But none have yet to touch my heart. I have not grieved over any of them. The passing of our friend didn’t hit me too hard as he lived in another state and we didn’t see him frequently. It seems that’s why we feel his loss less keenly than we would have if we lived in the same town and saw each other often. The other recent deaths affected me not at all. Am I cold-hearted? I often wonder. I asked my therapist, and for the life of me I don’t recall what she said about it. I suppose she said it’s due to something like I am comfortable with death. I dealt with death a number of times on a professional level and it holds no fear for me. I think some of it is because I have never been that close to any of the people I know who have passed away. Should I lose my son, grandson or husband, my therapist feels I would react quite differently. I feel I would. But for now I think other people would perceive me as being cold.