I grew up in a loving family and, as a child, didn’t realize that there was an unspoken rule that we were never to talk about certain things like money, sex and death. I don’t remember my parents mentioning even one of these topics until 1955 when I was eleven. At that time, my father had been in the hospital for many weeks and all my mother would say was “Don’t worry”.
Then one day, my mother asked my brother and me to sit in the den with her because she had something important to say. “You know your father has been ill and it looks like he will not get well. Don’t be sad. When he passes on, he will go right to heaven and be very happy,” she said. Questions swirled in my mind but she got up and left the room clearly not willing to to talk anymore. Keeping the code of silence, my brother and I just looked at each other but didn’t talk.
My father died a week later. I remember walking up the church stairs behind his casket and my mother looking at me and saying “Now don’t you cry. This is God’s will and I don’t want to see any tears.” I can’t imagine I didn’t cry, but I don’t remember. In fact I didn’t even remember her words until my own daughter was eleven. It was then that I realized that, should her father die, I would expect an ocean of tears and endless questions. That was 1979 and the beginning of my exploration of the topics of dying, death and grief.
The first book I read was Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ seminal work On Death and Dying. Since then I have read hundreds of books , watched countless films, and participated in numerous workshops on the subjects of dying, death and grief. I have endured the loss of many loved ones, including a seven year journey of taking care of my husband. Upon his death in 2011, I became a Hospice volunteer and joined the international movement to establish Death Cafes where people can come to talk freely about all of these subjects.
My mission in life today is to share information on these subjects as widely as possible and this blog is one of the ways to do this. My wish for my readers is that they can expand their views and share them with friends and family so that these topics are no longer taboo in so many lives.