Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Have a thought for those left behind...

...and, if you have loved ones in the teens and twenties, say, and you are dying on a weekend, you might want to think about holding off until mid-afternoon. My tongue is thoroughly in cheek as I write this, thinking of the young person who was called to the hospice because of the death of an elder--let's say a great-uncle. Close family, everyone was coming to be together. Sadly, the great-uncle died between 8 and 9 AM on a Sunday, and when his young relative arrived, it took no great insight at all to discover that Saturday had been a party night. The young person encountered a sign on the patient's door advising a checkin at the nurse's station and came and found me. I gently explained that great-uncle had died about an hour before. Even though the sign was on the door, I explained, it was OK to go in, because there were a number of relatives there enjoying some last time with the beloved great-uncle. The young person took a step toward the room, then reeled back in horror, so unsteady that I leapt to offer an arm. "Do you mean... he, it, I mean... is IN THERE STILL????" Yes, I said, the body is still present. "Oh, whoa, WOW, oh, wait, I don't think I can DO THAT." Eyes like dinner plates, mind slowly grasping the whole scene, slowed, one might guess, by lingering effects of the night before. Look, I said, there are no rules, you certainly don't have to go in, you can do what feels right to you. Would it help, I asked, if I knocked on the door and asked a family member to come and speak to you? "Oh, WOW, oh, yeah, OK, could you do that?" I did. I noticed the young person hung waaaaayyy back, not wanting even an accidental glimpse of... him, I mean it... Family members came out and I left them to work out the details. I imagine that young person was looking for "a hair of the dog" within moments of leaving the hospice!!!

So, elders, let your young relatives have at least a few hours of sleep before expecting them to come join you, er, it, er whatever. Oh, WOW.


Blogger Eliza said...

Now, now. Necrophobia is no laughing matter. Dirty little secret? I am SCARED SILLY of corpses. They, er, it, I mean, WOW, talk about TOTALLY unhinged. I'd have the same reaction no matter WHAT time of day it was or WHAT I had or hadn't been ingesting the night before. I have no clue why this is; I mean usually phobias have their root in SOME type of traumatic experience, but I can't recall any traumatic experiences with corpses (well, I CAN, but I was already scared silly of them at the time, so I dunno that having my great-grandmother die at our house when I was eight counts--I was totally prepared, mind you, since my mother had been providing in-home hospice care to her and we were all clear on the whole "Nana has come to our house to die" thing). I, er, MAY have suggested that if she started croaking, my mother ought to WHEEL HER OUT INTO THE BACK EFFING YARD, EWWWWW NOT IN THE HOUSE!!! Granted, I was eight, but that holds true to this day--the last funeral I went to (also the first one I've been to in my adult life--before I got married I would just make some kind of excuse but The Patriarch is all about obligatory social functions, even funerals) I spent bobbing and weaving in order to keep at least two layers of live bodies between myself and the dead one. I can't even scoop a dead fish out of the aquarium! Yes, I know--RIDICULOUS. But they're just so...*cold*...and...GAHHHHH bodies! Oddly enough I'm not particularly afraid of dying my own self--then someone ELSE will have to deal with the body!

6:43 AM  

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