We often hear of the miracle of birth, but what about the miracle of dying? I know that it is strange for me to put it in such terms, but sometimes miracles occur in the dying process.
I recently wrote a chapter for a book that has just been released dealing with long term care issues. My chapter deals with death and dying. I wish that I had included the following stories in my chapter. These are two families that I work with.
Sally battled health issues from middle age on. Before she even had an opportunity to grow old, she was blind and battled diabetes. Unfortunately for Sally’s family, Sally became very embittered and took out a lot of her frustrations on her husband and her children. Though they all loved and cared for her, sometimes that was difficult.
Sally passed away a couple years ago. As I do with all of our life care planning families, we had a “final meeting.” Though I had heard of what they were about to tell me, I enjoyed seeing the whole family sitting around relaying this story to me.
Clinkscales Elder Law Practice has moved. Our new address (which occured the first week of January) is: 2604 General Hays Road, Suite B, Hays, Kansas 67601.
A few months before Sally passed away, she had a significant stroke. Though the stroke affected her mobility, her ability to communicate and care for herself really was not affected. What was interesting was that after she had the stroke, she really could not have been any kinder. After the stroke, the family described a woman who loved her family, who loved her husband, and continually expressed her gratitude for what they had done and for what she had. The bitterness was gone.
While the family certainly was sorry that Sally was gone, they all expressed joy at the last few months that they had with her. They looked at it as a
miracle, but the miracle was not in her stroke, but in their ability to heal their wounds during those last few months of her life.
The second story that I want to share with you comes from a daughter. She had cared for her mom, Betty, for many years. Betty’s husband had died many years earlier, so the daughter had taken a very prominent role with her mother. For many years, her mother lived in assisted living or a nursing home. The last five to seven years of her mother’s life, she was virtually blind.
Betty passed away, and we had our final meeting. The daughter shared a story with me.
A couple weeks before her death, Betty was in the hospital. She was struggling with significant health issues that would eventually lead to her death. One morning, the daughter was in the room with her mother, and her mother opened her eyes. She could see! She could see her daughter, she touched her daughter’s face, she felt her hair. She could see the TV across the room, she could see all the equipment hooked up to her and she could see out the hospital window. It was a glorious time for both daughter and Betty. After seven minutes, Betty went to sleep. Though she woke up later, she never regained her eyesight. That seven minutes will always be ingrained in the daughter’s memory, and, in a way, it was a reward for several years of seeing Betty struggle with blindness.
Perhaps there are logical or medical reasons for why these events occurred, but I know that for the families, the impact of the events was truly a miracle.
“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
– James Barrie