DGYAB Stage 1: Denial
At 104 years old, everyone kept telling me how Anais had lived a long and happy life. She’d raised a beautiful family of 9 children with her husband of 72 years. Even after her husband died, just 2 weeks after her 84th birthday, she never slowed down. She drove until she was well into her 90s, and finally agreed to move into her daughter’s home, once her eyesight began to suffer.
She was incredibly involved in her community, volunteering and loved to play hostess. Then, after a full evening of laughter, and wine among friends and family, Anais went to bed. The next morning, her daughter found her unresponsive.
She wasn’t even crying when she called. “My mother has died, please come pick her up.”
At the arrangement meeting, all of Anais’ children piled into the conference room, with their spouses and children in tow. The sheer number of people made the air feel thick, and even after opening the window, it was still incredibly stuffy.
“I want an autopsy.” Brandon, the eldest son, said.
“She was perfectly healthy, and i think the doctors are trying to hide something by not doing one.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard something like this.
“Brandon, it’s likely that there was no autopsy because your mother was regularly seeing her doctor, and she was 104 years old. Sometimes, the body is just tired.”
“She wasn’t tired. You don’t know her!”
He was right. I didn’t know her. What I did know, was that it doesn’t matter whether the person who died was 30, or 104, the loss still shocks the people. It leaves them grasping at straws to make sense of what happened, to find fault where there is none. Sometimes, people need someone to blame.
They ended up paying several thousands of dollars to have a private autopsy done. As I expected, there was no foul play, the woman was just old.
“I just don’t understand what happened.” her son said. He began to cry, and his wife, silently, placed her hand on his shoulder, attempting to comfort him.
We aren’t here to understand why death happens. We are here to understand that it does happen. This is why it’s so important to have conversations with the people you love the most. It won’t dull the pain, but I hope that it will at least help the fog clear.