My friend's father died last week at home in hospice care at the age of 91. Also my ex-mother-in-law died at the age of 85.
I've been processing all of this over the past week, and here are some of my rambling thoughts.
A whole generation is passing away. Our parent's generation is leaving us. That saddens me and scares me that we are somehow left in charge.
At a time when so often hear about heroic medical efforts to prolong lives, my friend's family honored their dad's wish to die at home. Such a selfless act.
He and each family member shared goodbyes before he died. This is a tough thing to do, but it was what he wanted, and the family did not hesitate. Instead they drew strength from the fact that there were all with him when he passed on.
And I'm continuing to learn about funeral customs. Open caskets. Widows and children greeting each visitor. Hearing the stories and listening to favorite songs. And lots of tears. I don't know that this is the best way, but maybe somebody more experienced than me understands how these things are important for closure. I tell my friends I prefer a party when it's my time...but it will likely be the same familiar customs.
And I'm learning that the younger generation isn't afraid for their small kids to be around death. When I was growing up my parents seemed to shield us from death and funerals. Now kids are at funerals and open caskets, and parents answer their questions about death. Seems to be a healthier way.
And you really don't know what to do or say for your friends who are grieving. Lots of hugs and just being there when they need you. It's awkward and hard and there isn't really a road map.