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What Women Want - March 2018

28 Feb 2018

A new angle and element to grief

By Abby Crawford

I remember the first time I was aware of death.

The cold clench of grief gripping your heart, the lump in your throat that prevents the words leaving your being, the sting in your eyes as you hold the tears at bay.

I was young, and it was my great grandmother, whom I adored. I remember the enormous pain of the finality of death, that there were no more chances to kiss her papery cheeks, or tell her how much I loved her.

What I also remember is a great sense of family uniting. The phone rang off the hook (not an analogy – literally. It was way before mobile phones!), and food – mainly lasagnes – started arriving for my mother and grandmother to alleviate all household duties whilst they busily prepped for the funeral.

On reflection, there was a great sense of sadness but also of calm – everyone seemed to have a role and knew what to do. I don’t recall it being discussed, but it was as though the decisions that needed to be made had been made long ago.

I have, over the years since then, experienced the death of a loved one more times than I would like. And whilst the grief never eases our acceptance that this is part of life, whether predicted or arriving way to early, increases.

Today, I have sat with a family whose loved one has passed a little earlier than anticipated, yet not entirely unexpected. And today, I am witnessing a new angle and element to grief that I’ve not experienced before.

These young adults, embarking on their life paths and creating their own opportunities and independence, have been jarred home by the death of their parent. They are grief stricken, but they are also confused. They don’t know how to proceed, they’re not sure of how the pieces get put back together to carry out the final farewell.

Today, I witnessed what the heartache of not knowing can do – it can torture the people you love as they try to figure out what your wishes were, how you wanted to go, what you wanted given to whom.

Life lessons are often tough, and often learnt from painful experiences. Please think about your own end-of-life planning. What a woman wants is to never imagine leaving her children, family or friends unexpectedly but what a woman needs to know is there is

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