The Reality of Death and Caregiving

The Reality of Death and Caregiving
Death is a part of life. True, but in the face of loss, that's not very comforting. Regardless of the circumstances, whether someone you love has been ill for a long time, passed away suddenly, or was burdened with dementia, the sadness that accompanies their passing is palpable. When my parents went home, a friend lamenting the loss made a profound statement that still rings true to my heart. Having also lost his parents, he referred to the small band of adults gathered on our front porch as a group of orphans. He wasn’t wrong. Age doesn’t mitigate loss. It doesn’t matter how old our parents were at the time of death or how old we happened to be. We feel like orphans when they leave us. Adding to the hard-knock blow of loss is what immediately comes next. Crucial decisions regarding our loved one’s remains have to be discussed, a caveat that underscores that life is unfair. It is perhaps the most vulnerable time of our lives and the worst possible time to make decisions, but we can’t put them off.

Hard decisions

Exiting the air-conditioned, overstuffed funeral home the morning after my mother passed away, I was confused. Having met with the funeral director, my daughter and I walked silently into the sun-drenched parking lot. Of course we were bereaved, but our consultation had also left me shocked and weary. Then, these words slipped through my daughter’s lips and broke the silence: “Mom, Granny would not be pleased.” That was the bit of clarity I needed to penetrate my vulnerability. Arriving back home, I called my siblings and made them aware of the situation, including the cost attached to caring for our mother’s remains. The funeral director had outlined next steps, which included an elaborate price tag. Speaking abou
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