Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Death and Dying 101

This past Friday brought about the words I’ve been dreading…your grandmother is ill and is not expected to make it much longer.

When I found out it was in the late afternoon so I went and picked up Makenna from school and then dropped her off with Chris while I went over to do a bedside vigil. We were told she hadn’t eaten or drank anything for a couple of days. They had oxygen on her and she looked pale and more frail than usual. When she would wake up, she would usually talk with her eyes closed. My brother was told that she had said that she was ready to go.  I can understand her wanting to leave this earth. She’s lived 101 years and misses her family who’ve already passed, which is just about all of them, and she hates it when we leave her.

I took a class in death and dying (best class I ever took,) and it said how that you should ask the person who they are waiting to see. This is so that if they are waiting to pass to the other side until they see someone that you can either arrange to get them there or let them know that the person cares and loves them. Plus, it helps to tell them that it’s okay to pass on. Also, that you should tell them that you will miss them, but that you will always think of them and your love for them. Sometimes they also want to hear that they are forgiven.

Knowing all this and doing it are two different things. It is incredibly hard to say any of those things without breaking down. I did it one other time with my grandfather who I was extremely close to and I just bawled as I said it. I was privileged to be there as he passed even though, at the time, I would’ve told you it was the worst thing to happen to me. Now I look it as a blessing to have been there with him.

So here I was in this predicament again trying to find the ways to say the things I felt needed to be said without turning into a blubbering fool. After my brother left and it was her and I for a while, when she was in one of her lucid moments, I took the opportunity to run through the list. The only thing I didn’t think of was telling her that she was forgiven. This woman who had many trials and has overcome hardships in many different ways, in my mind, is already forgiven for any small misdeeds she may have done.

Well here it is four days later and I have to say, she’s recovered quite well. I attribute that to my brother Josh’s quick thinking and running out to get her, her favorite food….crab. When I arrived on Friday he told me that he went down to the local Chinese buffet and picked up a to-go dish of shrimp and crab. When he brought it back, she woofed down the crab. Then later, I tried getting her to drink some water but she wasn’t too into it, and I found some soda that she couldn’t get enough of. She stated that it was the nectar of the gods. Josh also called my other brother Jared and had him come later with some more crab which she ate quite a bit of.

Between the three of us, we were able to get some food and fluids into her and on Saturday, she was back out of bed in her wheelchair. Then on Sunday we visited with her again and she looked like herself once again. She was alert, happy, and seemed to be doing well. I concluded that she was just sick of the food at the nursing home.

BUT…in my class they also talked about the “second-wind.” This is when the person seems to come back from near death and perk up and you feel that all is okay once again. Then suddenly they take a turn for the worse and pass on. I can only hope that this will not be the case, and that we have some more time with her but again, I realize that she has truly lived a long life on this earth and whatever is in God’s plan for her, we’ll be sad without her, but will look forward to seeing her whole once again.

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