I'm just a typical mom. I have 2 kids, an 11 year old boy and a 6 year old girl. I work and so does my husband. We own a house, we have a dog and a couple of cats. Our biggest issues are having too much month at the end of the money and trying to keep up on housework. All in alll, pretty average.
But there is one thing I would like to talk about. You see, I work in a nursing home. If your mom/dad, grandmother/grandfather needs help, I'm the one doing the helping. I feed people, dress them, change their "diapers" when they're in a mess. When they have no cognitive ability left and are confused and lost, I'm the one who is calming them and showing them where to go. When they are dying, I'm holding their hand.
And this has given me some perspective on life, especially on growing old and dying. Death is not to be feared. It is peaceful. Having seen more than one person die, I firmly believe that (with the possible exception of people who have had traumatic accidents) people make the choice to die. They do not go until they have decided it is time and they are ready. For some people, they want their whole family to be there, others will wait until they're alone. I mention this because I see many family members feeling guilty that they weren't there. Often, the children will sit with their mom/dad while they're dying, step out to get food and the parent will pass while they're gone. For those who are in this situation, I wish I could take that guilt from them because I know that guilt is the last thing the parent wants them to feel.
I think that most people, when they die, would like to tell their families not to mourn: don't grieve my loss; remember the times we had together. I know I will be missed and I wish I could take that pain away. Celebrate my life, don't focus on my death.
Everyone must die sometime, what matters is what they did with their lives while they were here. Love and family are the most important things in life. Never forget this. This is the message that I believe people whose lives are ending would like to get across to their loved ones. I have been on the other side of this experience. In the last year I have lost several family members that I have been close to, and I can say that no matter how much you know they wouldn't want you to be sad, grieving will happen anyway. You've lost this person, and can't see him/her anymore. Holiday are particularly bad as you most notice that they're not there. It is hard, but it gets better. As time goes by, you miss them less, don't notice as often that they aren't there. You get used to them being gone. For those who have recently lost someone, I think that the best thing you can do for yourself is to allow yourself the chance to grieve.
For those who have parents or grandparents who are older, and who have relatives in nursing homes, I have one message that I wish everyone could live by: visit with them! Spend time with your loved ones. More than anything, that is what they want. Even if they can't talk to you or don't know who you are, find time to fit them into your lives. Your mom may not know who you are anymore, but will love spending time with you. Speaking from experience, people with Alzheimer's give the best hugs! If your dad is paralyzed and can't tell you he loves you, I guarantee you he feels it just the same. He loves hearing about your life, no matter how trivial your stories may be. And they all LOVE children. Bring your kids or your grandkids. Give them a chance to get to know this person who has been so important to you. Tell stories of what this person was like when he or she was younger.
I know life is busy. Believe me, I know. Sometimes you don't have time or live too far away. Your loved one understands and doesn't hold it against you. He or she is undoubtedly proud of you and is probably telling stories about you to whoever will listen. But trust me, if you can find a way to visit, even if it's only once a year, the rewards will be huge. Because that's the one thing you can'lt get back after this person is gone. Time and memories. They're so important!
I hope you find my words helpful and maybe even comforting. But most of all, I hope I have convinced you to go visit your loved ones before it's too late.