When Death is Manageable

Over the years I’ve been to many funerals, and bedsides of the dying, and gravesites. Watching the survivors has been interesting. There is a distinct difference between the people who can handle the death of their loved ones and those who cannot.

You can tell almost immediately when the survivor(s) has had a chance to say goodbye, make amends, and/or heal faulty relationships before their loved one dies. Even when death is more sudden than they expected, those are the people who can smile during the funeral ceremony, even through the tears. They are the ones who greet all their guests at the repast and chat with them. This may be because there is healing in death.

When you see someone throwing themselves over the casket, or screaming and have to be restrained, or fainting, or just adding more drama than necessary, they are the ones who have left things unsaid, held onto grudges that they can’t even remember why they started, or haven’t healed the brokenness in their relationships. They are the ones who can’t be consoled no matter who tries to help them. They take the focus off the deceased and turn it onto themselves.

When we pray for God to heal our loved ones, we have to understand that God’s way of healing may be to remove them from our presence. It’s not always giving them back their health, or restoring them to their healthy selves, it might be death because there is death in healing. Sometimes, the only way a person can be healed is through death, which is the end of their pain, the end of suffering. That is when death is manageable. You’re not happy, but you know they are no longer suffering.

I’ve regretted that I lived 3,000 miles away from my mother when she died and I couldn’t tell her goodbye, but there really wasn’t anything left unsaid. Since she died I have lost my oldest sister, Annie Doris, my youngest brother, Edward (he renamed himself Jahn), and Daddy, who made it to 106 years and his body just literally gave up and out. We expected my sister to die because of her heart health. Thank goodness for her daughter-in-law, my niece, for alerting us to the urgency of a visit and we went right then. I am forever thankful that we got to visit with her and laugh as much as we did.

It was my youngest brother’s death that took me by surprise; none of us was expecting the suddenness of it. He was subject to seizures and it appears he had one that he didn’t recover from. The pain I felt was because he died alone and lay there for two days before my second youngest brother could get into the apartment, as well as to identify his body.

But even with the loss of my family members, if their healing came with death, I can be okay with that. My mother and sister were very sick for a long time. My mother mentally left this earth years before her body followed, so I felt that she was in a better place than being in a facility with every-changing faces, and health providers who didn’t speak English around her, and male nurses trusted to bathe her in private (chilled me to my soul). But my living so far away (at that time) and my sister’s (another sister) health preventing her from visiting as often as she’d like, my mother was drugged to keep her quiet, which is the way most agencies operate when there is no family visiting regularly (even though they’ll swear to you that it doesn’t happen. See this video: http://awm.com/he-didnt-trust-his-moms-nursing-home-so-he-sets-up-a-hidden-camera-what-he-captures-sickening/?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=awm).

So, I was more relieved when she died, because I KNEW damn well she didn’t like where she was (which is why her mind left first). She was tired of the pushing and prodding from countless unknown faces with cold gloved hands. And the worst of her indignities was when they put a diaper on her rather than help her to the bathroom; I was there to see that a part of her leave when the laughing nurse told her, “it’s all right, Ruby, you’ve got on a diaper, you don’t have to wait for us.”

Death is not always the worst thing that could happen to us. Sometimes it’s living with the little indignities we have to face in life that tops it.

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