The Elephant in the Room

I have noticed the “ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM” on many occasions and to be honest, sometimes I have been afraid of that elephant.  You might wonder what she is talking about.  You know, that thought in your mind that tells you and others there is something none of us want to mention.

When illness brings with it the inevitability of death, there is a shadow or a cloud that looms in the understanding of it all.  When grandma was diagnosed with cancer the cloud appeared and the typical reactions from family and friends began to occur.

I know? You know & we talk openly

I knew what was going on, that grandma had cancer and the news was not good.  Grandma knew the same things I did and we openly talked about them.  We talked about what it was like, as she described, “to feel the essence of her energy leave her body”, as she became weaker and over time unable to take care of herself.  I listened as she stated, “it wasn’t supposed to happen this way”.

I know? You know & we don’t talk about it

I remember a long time, close friend of my grandma’s who knew what was going on but could not bring herself to talk about the cancer.  The friend and grandma both knew and felt the elephant in the room but no one spoke about it.  Soon the friend stopped visiting and calling on the phone.  I know the friend still cared and was hurting inside but I also know the hurt she caused grandma.

Is there a right or wrong here?  How much does fear and anxiety get in the way?  I understand it is difficult emotionally, spiritually, mentally and so on.  For myself, I feel I was given a gift. 

The “gift” was time, love and grandma sharing her dying process experiences, thoughts and beliefs.  The most important gift she felt she received before dying was having family including grandchildren and great grandchildren (school aged) come and see her.

For all that grandma shared with me, our conversations were not always focused on death and loss; cherished moments were remembering memories with a loved one. As I think back several years later to those moments with grandma, I can feel the sadness bubble to the surface and my eyes softly start to water.

How will you remember or be remembered when death is touching your life?

All my best

Barbara Gillett Saunders

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