What I learned from my mom's passing
My mother's funeral was last Saturday and if a funeral can be a great occasion than I guess it was a great occasion. Mom and Dad attended one of those old fashioned churches with a red carpet, tanned wood and union jacks. The sun streamed through the stained glass windows and the choir showed up to sing even though it was a Saturday. All three children spoke, the grandchildren and partners read and mom's casket was carried by her own family (although a somewhat sad sack collection of fedora-wearing hired guns managed the stairs outside, mercifully unseen by the congregation). Because mom had headed up the squad that served tea and cookies after funerals the same squad turned out to put on the dog for her.
I have heard from hundreds of listeners, many of them recounting their own experiences dealing with a parent's death. Some never got over it. A few confessed they couldn't wait for the day to come. One guy (a police officer) wrote to say he was terrified of losing his mom because he didn't think he was up to it.
So a few thoughts and then I'll move on (from this space anyway). First of all, you're up to it. You have to be. There were days when I rode the elevator to my mother's room in palliative care with my heart in my throat. It would have been so easy to find some errand to do and leave someone else there. But you really don't have a choice unless you think you can live with the regret. You do it because you have to and because it's the right thing to do and because you hope one day someone will do it for you.
Lesson two (this one if you know someone who has been bereaved): any gesture from friends, coworkers and even acquaintances is appreciated. No-one is taking attendance at a funeral but it's actually a thrill to see the faces of those who turn up. The whole morning crew plus our boss Mike Bendixen and Kym Geddes showed up from Toronto as a surprise and while I probably got to spend all of five minutes with them I was grateful they were there. A text, an e-mail, flowers from someone you haven't talked to for months or a drive by at visitation are all appreciated.
Lesson three: I have said this on the air and in my last blog post but I hope you will take it to heart; spend time with your parents. When you think of them, give them a call. On those visits where they try your patience remind yourself they won’t be here forever and that maybe they’re getting more out of the visit this time that you are (although surely parents get tired of their kids as well).
Lesson four: Have the talk. Know what the people in your life want in their final days and let people know what you want. Mom had said a few things that would have been helpful had the cancer taken her. But instead she suffered a stroke and could no longer communicate. Everything tells us we got it right. But it would nice to be sure.
Thanks again for the support. It`s been great to share mom with you all these years.