Death doesn’t have to be tragic.
There. I said it.
It’s a weird belief for our Western society, but one I whole heartily believe in. Am I sad? Why yes, sometimes I cry when I eat a good carrot, because Poppa sure did appreciate a good carrot. But I’m not sad for him, I’m sad for myself. I’m sad for MY loss, but I don’t believe his passing was tragic. In fact, it was joyful. You see, my Poppa (maternal grandfather) was pretty special to me, we had a pretty special bond, and we even took care of him a few years ago when my Grandma needed respite. Poppa got an illness while my Mom was pregnant with me that, to make it short and not so sweet, made him lose his short term memory and put him in a constant place of pain. Sometimes he jumped because of the jabs of pain in his back. But he always had a smile and a joke.
(Poppa and 1 yr old Mac)
I didn’t know Poppa before he was sick, but from what I heard he was a pretty special guy. You can read his obituary here. All my life I’ve heard about how hard he worked and how much he did for others. In the time before his passing, he had a stroke which put him in the hospital. Part of me wanted to ignore that he was there. I felt lost, I felt distraught. Some days I had a hard time even getting out of bed. He’ll make it out, it’s not problem, we’ll play crib again. Then he was put into palliative care and we knew things were not going to look up. It was short, it was fairly pain-free, and his passing was joyful.
How can death not be tragic? How can a passing be joyful?
He had a full life. He was surrounded by family in his last days. Almost every daylight hour of his last couple days he was surrounded by his wife, daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren. There was laughter, my boys baked a cake to share, we had a picnic in the garden attached to his room and he felt the sunshine on his face.
The morning after he passed away I woke up with a renewed sense of self. Yes I still cried, (We eat a lot of carrots around here) but I felt more motivated, more determined, more sure of myself than ever. I can’t help but feel like part of his spirit was infused into me. In the 6 weeks since he passed, I’ve stuck to routines that have made our house run smoother, I’ve disconnected from things that made me stressed, and connected with my family and friends in deeper ways. I’ve felt more connected to my own life.
Thats a pretty special gift for him to leave for me.