Is there a subject more difficult to talk about than death and dying? Especially your own? I can’t think of one. Yet it can be and awesome and rewarding experience.

If your loved one is deemed terminal or near death, it’s probably the last subject either of you will bring up, but at the same time it’s the one foremost in both your minds. The hardest part is getting the subject out “on the table.” Once there, you’d be amazed at how easy it is to discuss.

With my late husband it was relatively easy because he was told he would probably live only two more months. Three months later he went to a Hospice House to be cared for. It’s a small six bed facility where people go to die with caring dignity. He was there another two months and in that time about twenty-five people died around him. One day as a man that he had grown fond of was being taken away, he looked at me and said that he wondered if he would be next. I asked how he felt about that and all sorts of feelings tumbled out.

He shared thoughts and feelings with me that he had never told anyone else. Things that he wanted his children to know but had never been able to tell them. How much he loved them. Why he was so proud of them. How sorry he was that he hadn’t been as good a father as he would have liked to have been.

He contemplated whether he’d rather be buried next to his beloved mother or be cremated and have his ashes strewn in two of his favorite places. For some reason that was a big issue — he was really torn about it. I finally suggested that he could be cremated and I would take a little of his ashes to the seashore and a little to his favorite park and scatter them there so he could blend in with the environment and be a part of it forever. Further, that I would take the bulk of his cremains back home and have them buried in a Catholic Ceremony on top of his Mother’s grave. I contacted his brothers and sisters and got their permission and blessings to invade the cemetery plot. This decision made seemed to give him more comfort and peace than anything else.

As the time grew closer and he grew weaker, he opened up more to me. Not frantically but peacefully, sharing stories with me. Stories that would be lost forever if he hadn’t told them. This became God’s greatest gift to both of us.

It was so obvious that the more he talked — the more he shared with me– the more peaceful he became. At the same time, being allowed to share this very personal part of his life made me fall in love with him all over again. As a bonus I was able to share thoughts and feelings with his children and siblings that they would never have known. Hopefully they will be the treasures to them that I believe them to be. God’s greatest gift to us was giving us the courage and the trust to explore these feelings and to discuss them.

Copyright Shaywardncr 1999