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Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine in Passing...

There are some things I do not blog about because they are of such a personal nature or they involve people other than myself. So I have not shared anything about what has been happening with my mother-in-law out of respect for her, but tonight, the urge to write about what has happened is just too strong.

My sweet mother-in-law has been taking care of her own mama (my husband's Mawmaw) since she was diagnosed with cancer 6 months ago. I'm sure that it has been hard for her to watch her mama's vitality slowly ebb away, as cancer is not a disease that is forgiving in that way. Mawmaw has been in extraordinary pain and LuLu (my MIL) has been there every step of the way for her. Fussing over her, cleaning her house, cooking meals for the extended family. She has even spent the last few weeks living back and forth between her own home and her mama's. We got a call from her tonight that Mawmaw's battle is over. She's gone to be with Jesus.

My eldest daughter just broke down in sobs when I told her tonight, as she hasn't seen Mawmaw since before Christmas. The last time we went to Mawmaw's as a family was on a Sunday afternoon between church services and K was working in the Nursing Home Ministry, which she does twice a month.

Tonight, as my husband was heading out to be with the family I asked him if K could go with him to see Mawmaw one last time. I know that some might think its morbid to let a 10 year old child see someone once they've passed, but honestly, I don't. If it will help give her some sort of closure, then so be it. She loved her. And she was the only great-grandma my daughter has ever known. When my daddy died, I was only 9 years old, and my family made the decision for me that I was too young to see him that way, and that I should just "remember him the way he was". I have always harbored resentment over that for some reason. I spent many a night trying to picture what he must have looked like after the life was gone out of him...I wish they would have just let me see him.

What would you have done?


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Kim from Hiraeth said...

I think you were wise in allowing her to say goodbye in that way.

Bless her heart, I'll pray for you and your family and especially your little K.

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. I think to make the right decision about a child viewing a loved one after his/her passing, you have to know and understand that particular child. My parents insisted I see my Grandmother after she died and I really didn't want to. I was 10 and truly wanted to remember her alive and full of smiles and affection. Seeing her so still and clearly "not there" was scary and it haunted me for quite some time. To this DAY I feel shaky and ill any time I smell carnations, which were banked around her there where she lay. So for me, it was the wrong decision. So in a way, I have resentment just like you do, but for totally different reasons.

I'm not saying everyone would have that same reaction. I'm kinda weird about death, in truth. You know K, and I am sure if she wanted to see her great grandmother and you supported that, you did the exact right thing!

Amy said...

I think you made a wise decision.

When I was 9 my uncle died of cancer. He lived 500 miles away, but our families vacationed together every year. We were not allowed to go to the funeral. I resent that decision. I think kids of any age should be about to deal with the death of a loved one the same way the adults deal with that death.

I'm sorry for the loss of Mawmaw. I am glad she is with Jesus.

Jill said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I would have done the same thing. There are no other words to comfort you, but I will lift your family in my prayers.

Tamra said...

Wow, I'm so sorry.
I think you did the right thing, though. Everyone deals with death differently, even children. When they know what's going on and still hold to a desire, I think it's wise to listen.

Brenners said...

I'm praying for your family as you grieve. I think you did good.

I would give my child a choice. I was "forced" to look at my dead great grandmother and it haunted me as a girl. I couldn't remember her without seeing her dead face, so from then on, I have chosen not to attending viewings but to remember my loved one as they were. But everyone deals with a loss so differently. I think "closing things off" by viewing can be very healing for some.

Kimberly said...

Oh wow! I am so sorry about your loss. But I do have to agree with you. I was allowed to be with my grandpa in his last moments. As hard as it was....those moments are still so very precious to me. Children need closure just as much as, if not more, than adults. I dont feel there was anything wrong at all about letting a 10 year old say goodbye.

I have you and your family in my prayers! HUGS!!!

Fresh Girl said...

I've not only been on vacation from blogging, but from reading blogs, so I'm late reading this...I'm so sorry about the loss of your mamaw-in-law.

If she had been my daughter, I absolutely would have sent her to pay her last respects. I wouldn't have forced her if she was strongly opposed to it, of course, but I would have encouraged her to do so. Death is very much a part of life, and I don't think she's too young to see that. I remember when my mamaw died -- my brother was just five and we had two little second cousins who were five and four. At the funeral home, when the family viewed the body, we dragged a piano bench up to the casket and let the little kids climb up there and look and touch and ask questions to their hearts' content. Finally they were satisfied and climbed down. I think that went a long way toward removing the fear and mystery of death.

I would have felt the same way you did if someone kept me from seeing my father.

Mummymac (Elaine) said...

I know I'm late - I think you were wise too Karen.

When my own mother passed away last year we had to sit with her 24 hours a day during the last week in hospital. We just didn't have the time or the facilities to bring my kids in there. Their father looked after them at home.

After the funeral my little girl really struggled that she never had the chance to say goodbye to her Granny.

It took months for us to get her through it. I think all kids need to be dealt with differently and I certainly know I need to think more of my kids during times like this. I realise I had to learn the hard way.