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  • By Janet M. Gogue

All Souls Day musings on mortality

All Soul's Day

Like most, I’ve lived with many fears. Death is not one of them. It is inevitable. Of course, any death of a loved one is hard to go through sometimes even impossible and surely sudden unexpected deaths are even harder to accept. But it’s a part of life that each soul will journey through.

I was born a Catholic and exposed to its beliefs. But as I grew older I found that some of those beliefs just don’t make sense to me. Eventually, I became more comfortable with my own relationship with God and keeping faith in my own beliefs. Because, honestly, just believing in a greater power bigger than myself helps me keep my sanity.

So, death is something I’ve accepted in life and therefore felt I was prepared for the pain that comes with it. But only to realize that my heart has yet to feel the impact of a loved one dying.

My one and only brother recently passed away after struggling with diabetes for over 20 years. He was only 47. Receiving dialysis for the last seven years had deteriorated his body and weakened his heart even quicker. In and out of the hospital at least once a week was unbearable for him and only made him more miserable.

He started expressing that he just wanted to go already. I understood why he felt that way and because I accepted death was a part of life, I thought it was selfish asking him to keep fighting. Only because he was the one suffering and in pain.

We had a common belief that everyone goes to Heaven, I mean God loves everyone, right? But also that hell doesn’t exist because we’re living it now in this cruel world. So, of course you’re going to heaven to be at peace and no more suffering.

Back in the hospital, the doctors informed him that his heart wasn’t doing good and needed to be on medication that was only administered intravenously. Meaning ,he would have to live in the hospital. But even after doctors told him he would not survive even hours after stepping out the hospital doors, my brother wanted to die comfortably in his home with his wife and daughters and dog. He asked that we give these last days of his life to be with just them and they would call us with any update. He was released on a Friday. We called and was given an update but eventually calls weren’t being answered. That call came the following Saturday and my brother had been cremated that morning.

My brother always told us his instructions to his wife and daughters when he dies is to tell no one until after his body is cremated. Not wanting to burden his family with his death as he felt he already did with his life. And I understood his wishes. My brother had passed the Sunday after being released that Friday and cremated the following week.

I lived those days as if he was still here. Thinking he proved those doctors wrong and lived longer than they predicted and without medication.

Then, reality hit me. He’s gone and now just a memory. His passing left a void.

I am sad for his wife who took care of him and refused to give up. She was loyal to his dying wish. I am sad for his daughters who sacrificed a lot to help care for him while loving and respecting him for the father that he was. I can only imagine the days they had to live after his passing not being able to grieve only to uphold his dying wish of telling no one.

And so now my heart is pained with this overwhelming sadness sheltering me. Assuming that I was certainly prepared for my brother’s death I am now learning the hard process of grieving.


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