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Category Archives: dying

Watching another set of elderly parents change, consider, reconsider, and wait to be told the “right” answer is so painful.  It brings up fear and and anxiety for those who cannot recall the numerous complicated steps to the the waltz of Life. It shows a glimpse of those things that will have to be attended to, coordinated and arranged for the unwilling participants. 

For me, as I try to be strong and dependable in the light of another crisis of time, faith and family,   there are moments of tears and flooding memories.  It feels like a post traumatic stress response to the the sounds of decay, despair and discordant notes in the trailing notes of the last song.

It has to be OK because there is no other way out.  But the path is no longer clear to walk.  It is always in shadow, with dried twigs and brambles to step around cautiously.  There is movement in darkened corners and fear from not having been on this route before.  There will be many adjustments and accommodations to make the necessary baggage lighter and lighter, until only the soul lifts off to the light, leaving the body with the empty husks and teetering emptiness of acorn shells on the abandoned pathway.




For some reason, in the last two weeks, a couple of people have made comments to me that it is amazing how quickly time has gone by, as it is almost a year since Mom passed, and I should be feeling better. People don’t know what to say, or how to make conversation, or are just really obtuse. I don’t want to call them stupid, but it might be time to change the batteries in their empathy chips when we turn the clocks back tonight.

I don’t count the days since my Mother has passed. I count long months, tears, memories and the knowledge that I am no one’s favorite. It has been ten months since my Mother passed and nine months since my Grandmother passed on. The period of time watching each of them deteriorating has chipped at my heart of glass and left sharp craggy edges.

I still weep copiously at the sight of my mother’s photos and I wonder when she comes to visit, as a spirit from the Light, if she will linger long enough to leave a message in my dreams.

People want grief to be defined and confined to some statute of limitations. Here is the thing that you need to remember: Grief is Messy. It does not care about times or decorum. It hits when it is most inconvenient or when anything special happens in your life. It makes you weep at the hole in your life without a Significant Other who loves you and thinks you are funny, witty and special.

Loss is a plant that never dies; it has deep roots, with periods of growing and waning, fresh bursts, and blossoms in its season, but can never be fully harvested.

People tell me not to be angry at G-d as it was His decision and his judgment. I am not; my mother was lucky to move to a better life out of her imprisoned body. However, I still miss my Mom.

I am very aware of how much time has passed and the dates on the calendar that mark holidays and other major occasions in our lives. When babies are born, I want to call her and share the news and the photos. As my father prepares to walk down the aisle as a proud Grandfather in two weeks’ time, we are well aware of her absence.

This is not a time of crossing X’s on a calendar counting down to some date of freedom. My mother’s spirit was set free and for her it was a joyous reunion with family long since gone. But, for me, I am chained to the date with full knowledge of what it means. The calendar is a masquerade of days. It is not a sign of moving forward; rather it is a measure of the time I have been looking back over my shoulder to see what is left behind.

Thank you for stopping by. It means more than you know.



When we lose someone we love, they take our history, memories, and shared experiences with them. Regardless of our age, we are always children, siblings, parents, spouses, and grandparents.

The first question I am asked is “How old was the person who died?” Despite some rationalization and equivocation for the other person, the mourning and grief is real. The children have lost a parent. It does not matter how old the parent was when she passed, it is a large loss and gaping hole in the hearts of the children.

We are mourning yet another loss to our family structure. Our uncle passed away two days ago. My 85 year old father-in-law said, in his sadness, “My little brother died.” We are reduced to another age in the fluidity of time with memories of summers on the beach, dinners with grandparents, holidays and birthdays. The person who knows and shares your story is gone. You become the lone storyteller with no one to embellish your memories or enhance the details. The witness to the milestones of your life is gone.

Painfully, it is a reminder that you are the remaining mourner, on your own, carrying the bulk and breadth of your family history.

Whether other people lack experience, maturity, or empathy, the loss remains. That is the intangible in the hazy shape-shifting of life. For anyone who has lost someone they love, they can choose to reach out in condolences and understanding to another. It is incomprehensible to someone who has not been in that circumstance. Pain recognizes pain and is capable of extending kindness to another with the knowledge of how extraordinarily helpless it feels standing in the shadow of sorrow. People still walk past you. Heads bob in traffic caught up in their tiny little worlds. How could the world still go on? Don’t you realize who passed and what their contributions meant?

The fingerprint of grief lies indelibly on our hearts.

Thank you for stopping by. It means more than you think.


I am learning from personal experience and exposure, that sympathy has a time limit from those who see me or share it with me. For some, it is a week, with others 30 days seemed to be the cutoff. There was a real and definite change in the effort expended or attention granted. The tone of voice changed or merely there were newer things happening under the sun, understandably, busy with other parts of the lives that moved on.

The act of writing and sending sympathy cards and flowers stops shortly after the funeral, but the empathy and feelings of condolence, hopefully, last much longer. When it is someone who is an acquaintance, we will not know the date of the passing or the months of illness prior, but we can relate to the loss of a loved one.

This is a club that we would rather not belong to, a knowledge where we would prefer to be ignorant. There is a weary look to those who still mourn regardless of the time passed. Perhaps because our extra energy goes to hold back the outpouring of sadness, and emotion, like the Dutch Boy with his finger carefully levered to hold back the flow. The cracks in the heart do not fully heal, the lump is merely covered over.

The people we care about, those in our inner circle, share happy and sad times with us. On special occasions, we recognize the moment of loss reflected in their eyes. There is a quiet acceptance that our loved one is absent, and if cognizant, and empathetic, you can see it in someone else’s facial cues and body language. Loss does not have a use-by date; it is always with us. I can finally look at photos of my grandmother without crying but it took almost seven years. Although, she passed fourteen years ago, tomorrow, she is still part of my memories and those with my children.

Sometimes the small act of empathy– a nod, acknowledgment, shy smile or a hand on an arm, are gentle signals that we understand the feeling of absence. We love those whom we have lost and we love those who carry on. We help to carry the weight while celebrating the survivors — our friends, family, and neighbors. We support them in the immediate fog of loss, but also in the long term swirl of memories in the life that is long and the feelings that are deeply personal.

Love does not expire or end. We can express empathy, as long as able, and those who need it most are grateful to accept it.

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