My beautiful mother-in-law, Madge, is dead. She died on February 13th, 2012 in her home town, Hull in the UK. Her funeral was yesterday. I am very fortunate to have known her and been able to receive her love and generosity.
I am also very fortunate to have been able to care for her last month. When my husband heard that his mother was terminally ill, we immediately made arrangements to travel from Australia to Europe to be with her throughout January. It was a very touching experience – ‘though sometimes challenging. We laughed with her, we cried with her, we cooked for her, and helped her walk through the tiny house she brought her four children up in. We saw how she was getting visibly weaker. At night we took her to bed. Saying “good night” to her was special – so much love and childlike sweetness.
I had a feeling that she was preparing herself for death – without talking about it, to her it was just natural. There was so much grace in her approach.
The time I spent with Madge, and her precious process, made me also think about my own mortality – and the dying process in general. Is there a choice we can make about how we die? I think it is possible. The more consciously we live, the more choice we have when dealing with old age, sickness and death, both that of other’s and our own. Personal inquiry and inner strength help us to face and grow with adverse situations. Conventional wisdom paints it as a descent – but who is to say we can’t rise into death?