Dealing with Death of Loved Ones
Carer at Carer at Home
In the space of 7 months I have made 2 trips to my beloved country Jamaica for 2 momentous and #poignant occasions in my life. I travelled to Jamaica on the 22.12.13, my son’s birthday to attend his wedding on new years day 01.01.14. I was privileged to spend 4 weeks establishing links with my elderly mum whose health was in steady #decline. Mum who had #dementia did not recognised her only daughter, but I was blessed in a variety of ways. Because my son Valdin Legister was living at home with mum, he had become one of the familiar persons who represented #consistency and continuity in her life. In a sense he had taken my place in mum’s heart whilst I was away from the roost.
During my 4 weeks at home I was empowered to get some more insights into the #aging processes that are parts of the transitions from birth to death. If I am lucky I might encounter some of the changes I have witnessed throughout my life as a #parent, informal and formal #carer. If I live to be anywhere near to my mum’s age of 90 years old, I will be blessed with #wisdom beyond my age. Now I can honestly say I totally understand the age old adage that my older folks used “once a man twice a child…” Mum went back to being a child who needed attention 24/7 near the end of her life here on earth. I also got a clearer picture of the person I will morph into as I get older, because I am now proud to be #compared to my mother.
I am saying this because at one stage, I’d be #mortified if anyone had the gall to compare me to mum and my grandma. But as the years went by and I decided to delve into my family history, I was dumbfounded to make some discoveries. Whilst in Jamaica I took the opportunity to put some of my studies that I had done about the young and elderly to good use. I pondered to mums every needs applying techniques to revise her #memories despite her dementia. I #sang with her, #talked about her loved ones who had gone on before and did all in my power to preserve her #dignity. It was truly amazing to witness mum being so #humble and grateful whenever anyone did her a good turn.
This reminded me so much of some of the #vulnerable children with whom I worked over the years. The vulnerable children and adults are relying on the practitioners and other health care professionals to provide for their diverse and #complex needs. I felt a sense of purpose when I can implement early intervention strategies from studies and trainings to meet the needs of any vulnerable human being. I must confess that I had a few eye opening experiences being with mum, before heading back to the UK where duty call. That meant I could not stay with mum to celebrate her #90thbirthday, but I left with the #convictions that I would not be seeing her alive again.
Back in the UK I was kept up to date with her progress as per usual. Then after doing Cancer Research UK Race for Life in honour of my brother who died of #Cancer in 2008, on the 30th May in Clapham. I had this strange feelings before going to bed and I just could not stop crying. I can say as part of my beliefs that my loved ones who had gone on before had reached out to prepare me about mum’s passing in advance. In the middle of the night I was woken up by the telephone call I was dreading and was in tuned to the time when mum drew her #last breathe. After getting the news I spent the following weeks making preparations for going home to bury mum. This was one of the hardest couple of weeks I had encountered, but I took things in my stride and carried on.
I #drafted the eulogy and remembrance since I am the one responsible for documenting the family history during those couple of weeks. I continued working as hard as ever, burning the candle at both ends to meet my targeted outcomes. I went back to Jamaica to bury mum, but decided with my siblings that this was a time for the family to celebrate a life well spent. I got home and took part in the preparations, said I was not going to cry, but on the day of the funeral it was a different story completely. I left home in good spirit, walked up to the casket, looked at mum lying there so quiet and life less, touched her face and hands. I guess that’s when the #reality that mum was gone hit home and I could not stop the tears from flowing. So I cried and paced up and down until there were no more tears.
I have been dealing with the death of my loved ones from I was in my teens with the #murder of 2 uncles in their homes from both parents, 2 years apart. The gruesome death of my grandma’s only son totally destroyed her and she never #recovered. She died 2 years later, a month after the death of my dad in 1980. This meant my family had to deal with death 2 folds over a period of time. Then in 1994 I lost my brother at the tender age of 37 years old and strangely enough he was #present when our uncle was brutally murdered and escaped with a few bruises. I lost another brother to Cancer in 2008 after a short illness, he was only #56years old. The other family I had lost were not that significant, because I knew absolutely nothing about the intricacies of death.
Listening to current debates about Euthanasia, the treatment of the vulnerable and the Bill being debated in Parliament… I can’t help but reflect on some of my own experiences throughout the times when my dad and grandma were sick. Dad was sick for over a decade before he died and in the end needed care around the clock. To compound matters, gran took sick and mum had to care for both, with help from her children. I recalled once hearing my brother saying that if it was left to him alone, he would give dad something for him to #sleep. Although I was not home during my brother’s brief illness before his death, I have cause to believe he might have #hastened his life.
All he did to hasten his life was to eat the things that the doctor told him that were not good for his health. I came to this conclusion after going back home and being given certain information and knowing what his thoughts were about #suffering. I know I could not take that pathway if any of my loved ones or myself ever end up like my dad, because of my knowledge, values and beliefs. But this will not take away from the fact that I can understand why some would decide to go that route. I have seen so much suffering in my life time, that I wished there was some way for people to avoid the #indignity of depending on anyone else for their every needs. Before I reached maturity and gain knowledge I remonstrated with a God who would allow my dad to suffer so much.
Suffice it to say that I am wiser about such matters and even though I have mellowed, I wish people did not have to suffer like my dad, and become like my mum in her last lap of her journey. Although I knew mum would die of old age it was still hard to accept losing a loved one, in particular my mother. She was the centre of our life because of the sacrifices she had made for her family when her husband took sick and died years later. I am proud to say that because I had dedicated my life to #educating myself as an older student because I never had the opportunity when younger. I was instrumental in diagnosing mum’s condition, passing information to my family to help them provide mum with care that she would not otherwise have gotten.
When I was still in Jamaica nothing was known about some of the conditions which affected the disabled and elderly. Therefore when these disabled and sick elderly people behaved a certain way, they were #stereotyped and classed as mad, miserable or labelled with a variety of undignified names. In this age of #enlightenment I am glad to say that studying empowered me to address some of the imbalances which made my mum’s later days on this earth a more bearable time for her and her family. I am no prophet and will not claim to be brighter than anyone else, but I am proud of the way I have empowered myself to enable me to cope with the challenges of life. By these tokens I am better equipped to handle my personal and professional life.
There are 2 things that are certain in the trilogy of human kind – birth and death, and after death the resurrection. I am praying even though I am not much of a Christian like my Father and Mother before me. But I wish I don’t have to suffer the indignity of having to rely on others to care for me like my parents before me. I guess this is why I take my health so important and have been making life style changes to keep healthy as long as is reasonably possible. These changes were put in place since I was diagnosed with a variety of illnesses, some of which are #heredity. I intend to keep in tip top shape for as long as I can. However there are certain matters over which we mere humans do not have the final say, so I am more than happy to leave such matters in the hands of the Almighty Father who knows everything best.
Mum has gone on to rest from her hard labours and toil and I am sure all my family are in agreement that mum is better off resting instead of staying on this earth suffering, and having no memories of her family. I am more than confident mum has been #reunited with all her loved ones who have gone on before? She has done a wonderful job throughout her time and I am more than #grateful for the mother God gave me for the 55 years she spent here with me.
Carer at Carer at Home
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Billing Resolutions Manager at E.ON
What I’ve learned is that, in the “Trilogy of Life”, one thing is uncertain and one thing is sure: life and death, respectively. May your lost loved ones rest in peace, Mervelee.