Thursday, September 27, 2012

A tale of mortality

Death is a dirty dirty word for me. Till this day, I have issues dealing with the finality of it. I am unable to discuss this topic without being affected. My maternal grandma passed away when I was very young and both grandfathers passed on before I was born.

But my first experience with the concept of death is no less scary. I was walking with my mum on the way to my kindy and BAM! There was a thunderous roar and I swear I felt some vibrations on the ground too. Next thing I know, there is this LOUD, PIERCING and ABSOLUTELY heartbreaking screeeeeam and wail!

My mum tried to cover up my eyes but I saw the lady. The lady who decided not to walk on anymore, the lady who decided to walk away from it, the lady who chose suicide. Away from her husband, from her child and sadly, from God. Yes, there was a child involved (could be more but I only saw one that day). The boy is possibly around my age then and was peering down at the grotesque scene through the iron grilles at the parapet.

The husband carried the boy and ran down the few flights of steps while shouting, crying and yelling with such grief and such desperation as he tried to reach his wife. The cry of hopelessness, the cry of anguish, the cry for help, the cry for answers.

The lady was still breathing, contorted in a weird position and was foaming in her mouth as she said her final words to her husband and son. The man was pounding on the ground, asking in a tormented tone "why why why???" while rummaging his fingers through his hair, hugging his son and was just desperately, so darn desperately, trying to understand, trying to make sense, trying to say his goodbyes to his other half, trying to be strong for his son and quite possibly trying to hang on to a very fragile thread of sanity and control. Trying.

The incident affected me so much that even now, I have issues with the concept of death. I understand that people do pass on but the finality of it and the grief the family members face (the screams of the husband still ringing in my ears at this point) scares me. 

Dumpling's great grandma is in critical care. She's 91 and has a rich life. Life filled with six children, many grandchildren and one great grandchild - Dumpling. She is one of the most fiesty persons I know (made police reports complaining about her neighbours and even visited the MP to lodge her complaint earlier this year), fiercely independent (travelled along to many countries in her 70s and 80s, prefers to stay alone and cooks her own meals daily) and is just so full of life.

Unfortunately, she had a stroke (not her first but the most serious one) and has been in critical care since last Monday. We visited her and I just sucked at it. I could not touch her without my eyes misting over and I just cannot bear to look at her this way.

When we arrived, Dumpling was shocked too, to see this frail form of a human barely holding on. It is like the very essence of life has been sucked out of her by a dementor and she is barely lucid and unable to make sense of her surroundings.

What's even harder for me is Dumpling's questions on her great grandma. What is a stroke, how does it happen, why can't she move her body and the one I dread - will she get better mama?

I suck at lying so I don't really know how to answer her without getting emotional. The one worry that I have is when it clicks in Dumpling one day and she knows that even the ever energetic mama Sue here will eventually say goodbye one of these days. How does one explain and help your preschooler deal with death? How do you lessen the blow and the pain? How do you help her deal with the fear? 

Even as I write this with my shades on my face as I am tearing on the bus, I am still unsure of how to answer Dumpling when the Lord finally decides to claim her great grandma. For the moment I can only pray that should great grandma leave us, she will leave us with integrity. Leave us with peace, free of pain and discomfort and perhaps even with a smile on her face. Knowing that she will meet her maker and that we are very blessed to have her in our lives. That I for one, am very pleased that Dumpling got to know her great grandma for some years.

Dumpling with Great Grandma Elizabeth de Souza, Feb 2012

Linking up with Sandra:'s Talkative Thursdays


  1. Hi Alicia,
    Just remember in these trying times that the Lord will provide. *hugs*

  2. You know when people act all gung ho and say that they aren't afraid of death? I don't believe them.

    We may psych ourselves up for the inevitable, but nothing can really prepare us (or the people who are left in the World) for the sense of loss. How do you deal with knowing that you will never be privy to that person's laughter, company, and personality?

    That's why it's harder when you're close to that person.

    I think Death, in its various forms - is never easy, both for the one about to face the Grim Reaper, or the one who has to continue to live without the company of a living, breathing person who simply 'is'.

    I don't like hearing 'we all have to go one day' or that the spirit is still alive even though the being is gone. Yes, we all have to deal with loss at certain points in our lives, but it really isn't easy. Time may heal... but the memories will always linger.

  3. Hi Alicia,

    Thank you for sharing this very touching story.

    It is sad that one day we all have to leave this place but I'm sure C's great grandma has lived a good life especially with so many of you who care for her.

    I think when one lived a good life, they leave behind family who will miss them.

    Take heart and be brave. Celebrate today and live well for the Lord.



  4. Thanks for sharing, Alicia.. I can't imagine how traumatic it was for you, having witnessed something like that...

  5. Wow, what a traumatic encounter.

    and actually my maternal grandmother just passed away. i have not had the time to really think about it much.

    but her death causes me to want to spend more time, and be kinder to those who are alive around me, so there will be no regrets when they go.

  6. As I was reading your post, tears swelled up in my eyes. I'm missing my grandma, grandpa and my aunt.

    But I guess everyone of us has a purpose in life, that's why we're here. Your grandma has walked a long way to where she is now, with so many of her loved ones with her.

    One day we'll leave too. but we'll not be forgotten.

    Take care and be strong (for your grandma) *hugz*

  7. I'm not sure how I'll respond to questions on death. It almost seems too cruel to talk to child this young a age. But death is inevitable and knowing that her grandma will be in a better place without pain may lessen the pain. I'm sure dumpling likemyounwill have many fond memories of her grandma. Be strong.

  8. This is a difficult topic to start talking about to the kid.

    My 3.5yo was asking me about heaven (where people go after they die) a while back as well and I had to fight hard to hold back tears trying to explain as calmly as I could.

    I couldn't blog about that sharing session as I will turn to cutting onions when I attempt to write.

    Hope you feel better.

  9. I read, and I didn't cry this time. Because, I am remembering the times I had to be around for my dad when he was frail from illness. I remember that in front of him, I am my usual self. But behind the shower curtain is where I break down and grieve. I psyched myself so much before visiting him each time. I gave him smiles and comfort touches and let him know I am strong. Knowing that a person's life is fulfilled with loved ones around should be enough. Alicia, your granny is lucky to have you around. We should give factual answers to our children when they ask. There's no need to hide the truth because this is life. *hugs* Knowing where she'll be afterlife should be a comfort for all because we know, there is no more suffering in His kingdom.

  10. Alicia, I too have a very deep bond with my grandma (dana's great granny)...the past few years, she's gone through few accidents, one requiring a major neuro surgery and we all feared we might lose her forever...However she's a fighter and I believe C's great-grandma too so cherish the days she's around, make the most memories out of it and commit her to God's hands...Praying along with you...

  11. I wrote a post once about heaven. It's one of my favourite post actually.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Be warned: All content in this blog is copyright protected. Registered & Protected