I never intended to write about death and dying. I thought this topic could stay bound within the contexts of the current social psychological theorists, but recently I’ve found myself examining my feelings in dealing with my mother’s terminal illness.
I studied Kübler-Ross’s theory, of course, when I worked on my degree in Psychology. Effortlessly, I can recount her five stages of grief. My life over the last few years anecdotally supports much of what she wrote. I know, too, about theories on resilience. Although I haven’t consciously researched the topic of grief, I’ve definitely lived it. As I skim the endless variety of topics available to families dealing with Huntington’s disease, dealing with the last stages of this disorder surfaces in discussions.
My faith rests totally in the strength of the human mind, the spirit of community, the cycle of life. Whenever living with Mom’s Huntington’s disease pulls me under, I’ve reached out to my husband, my son, my sister, and my brother. They yank me back into the light when I feel surrounded by darkness. I have several friends, some in distant cities, who offer comfort and support through their kindness and concern.
And so we deal with dying like we deal with living. We admit our shortcomings during those endless nights and horrendous days. We don’t deny our anger and bitterness as illness chips away Mom in larger and larger chunks. We let sorrow enter our home and sit upon the sofa on Saturday mornings.
We take each day as it comes. We linger over the good moments. We sip and savor giggles and smiles. Words like sacrifice, care, generosity, family and love take on deeper and more honest meanings as they become part of our daily life.
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman