Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dichotomy in Death

No, Dichotomy in Death isn't the newest JD Robb futuristic thriller.  It's the subject of a discussion I've been having on and off via text all day with one of my friends.  Her grandma just died.  Today marks 4 weeks since mine had her (ultimately fatal) stroke (tomorrow is the 4 week anniversary of her death) so death and dead grandmas are still a sensitive subject for me.
My friend's grandma came to death via a different path than mine.  She had cancer and supposedly had it beat, but then she started acting strangely, as if she had some dementia starting.  My friend's mom thought that the cancer had metastasized to her brain.  She started to lose weight at an alarming rate because she stopped eating.  A couple of days ago, they had to bring a hospice nurse into her home (she lived with one of her children) because she was too sick and weak to be moved to a facility, and now she's gone.
And my friend is facing the same quandary that we went through with my dad and my grandma.  That you love someone, and wish she would stay with you forever.  That's the selfish part, of course, because at the same time, this person you love is sick and suffering and in pain.  You want the pain to end for both your sakes.  So you feel bad for wanting the person to die, and selfish for wanting them not to die.
But when the pain inevitably ends in death, you continue to feel horrible.  Because you are glad the pain is over and the suffering has stopped.  And you are sad, so sad, that your loved one is gone.
And of course my friend had the other side of the coin in a different way.  She had a few days to say goodbye to her grandma and know her grandma heard and acknowledged it for what it was.  My grandma was gone when I said goodbye.  Maybe her spirit was hovering in that hospital room and heard but I don't think so--it fled the night before, trying to fulfill my mom's wish to find her mother dead peacefully in bed.  And with my dad, well, from day to day we never knew if he really understood who we were and we didn't know when if ever he'd die so how to say goodbye in that case?  The last time I saw him, about 15 hours before he died, I told him to go and said goodbye but he was so far gone, stage 4 Alzheimer's, brain damage, MRSA burning through him out of control, that he didn't know.  He didn't hear me either. 
That's why I can't be an atheist.  People have to go somewhere. If energy can't be created or destroyed, they have to be around in some form.  They have to know their children and grandchildren and loved ones have conflicting feelings about their deaths.  They have to still be here.  Otherwise, what is the point?

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