Completing the Circle
I had never given much thought to whether or not I would step up and take care of my parents when age or illness left them incapable of doing it themselves. I guess we never want to face the mortality of a beloved father or mother, especially when we assume that end will be so far into the future. But life happens and things can change in an instant.
When faced with the reality that I was going to lose my dad, in a brutally short amount of time, my brother and I had a decision to make. I wasn't even conscious of the choice I was making because it was so clear and obvious and right. Of course, he would go home. We would take care of him. We would figure out how to manage it all...our own children, our spouses, our lives. We would see him through this with the end game being lights out on a wonderful life.
Our culture hides from death. We avoid it. We don't talk about it. We certainly don't watch it happen if we can help it. In days past, generations lived under the same roof so when Grandmother's time came, she was cared for by the family. When she died, she was prepared for her final resting place by that same family. She was on display under that same roof so that her family and community could view her. Back then people knew what death looked like. They knew what it felt like. They experienced it wholly and saw caring for the dead and dying as an assumed responsibility...a most natural and clear duty.
Times have changed, of course. Generations rarely live under the same roof anymore. Parents are working outside of the home. There are pressures bearing down on us all from forces far outside of our families and slowly, slowly over time one of the consequences of our evolving society was death was pushed away. It was hidden from us. It was given to someone else to deal with, somewhere else, away from our busy, distracted, chaotic lives. And we are really missing out because of that.
Death is horrendously sad. The weight of it impending is enough to crush the strongest soul and when it comes, it leaves you with an emptiness that no amount of time will every completely fill. But it is also profoundly beautiful. And special. And can leave you more whole, more wise, more capable than you ever thought possible, even with the staggering difficulty of your loss.
If given the opportunity to serve your loved one in this way, I implore you to take it. Face it. Be with them. Experience it. In doing so you complete the circle. Parent to child, child to parent. It is only through experiencing death that we truly understand and become able to fully experience life.
Photo Credit judydouglass.com.