“Oh, good grief!” When I was younger my mom (and Charlie Brown) would say this a lot, it expressed much frustration and possibly the end of any kind of patience. In other words, it was not a good thing to hear these words.
Now, I think of those words: “good grief” and have a new feeling associated with them. It is nearly a year and a half out from my mom’s death and while my grief does not always feel good, I can view her process of dying and see the beauty in it, see the miracle in it, and see the good in it.
I had never thought of birth and death as a (not quite) matching set of bookends, with birth on one end and death on the other. They were always separated in my brain, one a miracle and one an inevitable (sometimes) tragedy. One an anticipation the other a dread. But they are both miracles.
A few explanations, she was nearly 97 when she died, she’d lived an interesting and pretty glorious life, she went on Hospice in late January and died early July–this was not sudden or unexpected, actually, to be honest when we were told she should be in Hospice we were a little shocked, I don’t think we had thought she would ever die.
Watching her face, her eyes–sometimes loving, other times confused–I could see her journey from one world to another traced there.
I was lucky to witness this. Another explanation, although we (her daughters) were with her (nearly) constantly, she chose death after all three of us had gone to sleep exhausted after surrounding her bedside until 3:00 AM.
After, I started hearing about Death Doulas, a person (not medically) trained to care for someone holistically at end of life. It made me happy to know this is a thing and gave more credence to my miracle bookends.
I have so much more to say about this, but I want to press “publish”–sorry about any typos, etc.