Thursday, May 2, 2013

On death and dying (and the good things about black humour)

Song of the day: 'A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal (Noble Maiden Fair)' from the soundtrack of Brave.

So, my grandmother just died. Which is sad. Uh, not to state the obvious, or anything.

And when the family got to know about it, there was grieving, and crying and generally being miserable but still a bit glad because she had been sick for so long and died in her sleep. I suppose that you could call it a good death, if there is such a thing. But more importantly she had a good life, or at least a life worth living, which is the most any of us can ever ask for.

So I stayed over with my sister and her family for the night to comfort them (for them to comfort me), and it was nice. But I kinda got this feeling that I would also have been fine alone at home by myself. And at first I wondered if that was callous, but no. I simply seem to have skipped right to the final stage of grief, if those can be considered accurate to the human experience. I mean, I didn't even cry. And then I realized that I had already done most of the grieving before she even died, because we all knew it was going to happen, although no-one said it out loud.

I think the story I have been writing throughout April (finished on time, by the way. Woohoo!) helped a lot. I didn't realize it at first, but the protagonist was experiencing the same crippling fear of death that I used to have when I was younger, and also dealing with my own grief of my other two grandmothers, which also died only last year. I wrote it without realizing that it was also about me, in a way, and dealt with the feeling that I had about being left alone. I mean, now a whole generation of my family is gone; all six of my grandmothers and grandfathers. And in the end, I realized it by writing it thus:

‘The moments leading up to death may be horrible, but the end itself just is. It’s neither good nor bad. There may be people left behind and there may be people who leave, but if life does anything, it goes on, and so does death. Don’t be afraid, Martha. People may leave, but that doesn’t mean that others don’t arrive.'

It was a pretty cathartic experience, and a good one.

So all in all, my grandmother was an awesome lady. I mean, she put up with my grandfather, for one (long story) and she raised like six or seven kids. She had my mum, which, not to brag or anything, is kinda important to my existence (and also happiness). She never went to what we would think of as a school in present time, but she was wonderfully smart and read like she was racing against someone (and had so many books I can't even count them). She had a wicked sense of humour, and in the tradition of our family a pretty gallows-oriented one. I think she would have appreciated what my best friend said to comfort me when I told her. I hesitate to write it, though, because of the chances of it being misunderstood by, well, everyone.

Ah, screw it, no-one reads this anyway.

'What's up with your grandmothers dying all the time?'

'And here I thought you had made it perfectly clear to your grandmothers that they should stop that whole dying thing. Tch, hipster grandmas.'

I just find this hilarious. But then again I do come from a long line of gravediggers.

Rest in awesome, grandma. We will meet again.

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