5 Stages of Death

Unlike much of the population, I luckily was never close to someone that has

died, but my aunt Edna has. Tonight she came by my house and allowed me to

interview her and how she and her loved ones grieved over the deaths of both of her

parents. Both parents died of colon cancer, the father died at age 83 in 2003 and the

mother died at age 76 in 2006. Three things we talked about were how she felt about

the death/how she dealt with it internally, how others in her family dealt with it and how it

helped my aunt, and how it affects her in life right now.

Something that surprised me greatly was how my aunt dealt with the losses. For

one she is very religious, and didn??™t seem to find the answer through faith. She had said

in the beginning she was angry at God, and that even towards the end of her grieving

she found very little comfort in religion. Something that helped her cope was knowing

that her parents were able to die in peace and had lived their lives to the fullest, and

what I really liked was that her mother was able to forgive and absolve of herself of guilt

through traveling all over the country to say goodbye to everybody personally. Her

parents also knew they would die years before and accepted it, as Morrie Schwartz did.

This also gave her many years beforehand to grieve and made it easier when it actually

happened. Something that was hard for my aunt is visiting their graves, something I

thought would have been comforting. She said it would bring out the depression and

anger within her because it would just remind of the pain involved with letting her

parents go. Even though they lived beyond life expectancy, my aunt??™s other relatives

had lived into their nineties, making her feel cheated out of ten more happy years. Lastly

she told me that she had experienced all stages of grief, but not bargaining because

that would just make her feel more sad and desperate. An important thing to do when

examining someone??™s feelings about a dead relative is getting the scoop on the rest of

family

My aunt grew up with one sister on a farm in Arkansas with both parents. When

my aunt was 20 she decided to marry my uncle and move to Chicago, but her sis

stayed. THat was critical in the sister??™s grieving. She would see them multiple times

each day and when they were gone she didn??™t know what to do in the slightest an dis

still grieving 8 years later. Being away from her parents most of the time helped her

cope a lot easier and her sister acts as my aunt??™s connection to her parents as home,

which is a huge help. Her children were also very important in her grieving, my older

cousin actually witnessed his grandfather die. This was a very traumatic event for this

then 14 year old and he would grieve with my aunt and make her feel not so alone.

Also, my cousins were too scared of seeing death again to see their dying grandma

Lastly, my uncle was her rock and her shoulder to cry on and a partner to let her

emotions run wild with. One upside to a death (if you can call it that) is that you can

become a help to others when they lose someone important.

Last year my aunts mother-in-law (my grandma) was also diagnosed with colon

cancer. Her experience with this was extremely beneficial to everyone in my family. She

would tell us to pray and had a whatever will be, will be attitude that helped me deal with

her cancer, but luckily she survived. Now in life my aunt still experiences short spurts of

grief and one of her comments really touched base with me. She had said that

somedays she would call her mom, as she had done everyday while she was alive,

after the death just because she was hoping to get an answer back so she could to her.

This meant a lot to me, recently my not-so-close great-grandma died and her facebook

page was left up. Her other great-grandchildren would post things to make it seem like

she was alive to try to comfort the family. And to me it actually seemed like she was

doing it and I didn??™t feel so bad anymore.

I had originally set up an interview with my aunt to get a project out of the way,

but I really learned something. I used to think I would not experience grief if a family

member or friend died, but i almost shed a tear during her story. I also learned that there

is no exact formula for how someone grieves and I learned that death can help the

living.

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