Question: Dear Luise: My mother is very close to death. It’s been a long and terrible experience for her, and for all of us. I am trying to keep everyone and everything on as even a keel as I can. I don’t know how to counsel my teen age children or face my mother’s request to be cremated. Most of this has fallen on my shoulders and I have no prior experience in how to help myself or others through it. Please Help. Sue
Answer: Dear Sue: There are so many different things to consider here. You, first and foremost, since you are the person everyone is depending on. Do you have anyone you can talk with about this; your pastor, a best friend, someone who does grief counseling? You need to talk, probably at length, about how you feel and how this is affecting you and your life. With your children, the most important thing is to not have the subject be off-limits. Get a dialogue going, any conversation that will allow them to ask questions and offer input. If you have a spouse, enlist his help, as well, and see what’s going on with him. Have you talked about this with your mother? How does she feel? The gist of this is that the whole family has to have feelings about this very difficult situation, and they need to be aired and heard for everyone involved to be able to move through it.
From your comment, I assume that cremation is something you disapprove of, fear or have something else going on about. In that area, I would strongly suggest that you focus on the fact that there is probably little you can do for your mother at this stage of her illness. So please give her the peace of mind of knowing that her request will to be carried out, and the less said about your considerations, the better. She has made her decision based on her own beliefs and probably already knows that you have a differing opinion in the matter. Honor her, Sue. Let her know that it’s her body and her choice and you respect that.
I would like to add that our comings and goings are part of life. You can convey that to others, once you accept it yourself. You don’t have to like it, but everyone of us will leave, and those that follow, and those behind them. My parting thought is that when this is over and your mother has passed, give yourself a much-needed rest. Start planning it now, and know that it is extremely important that you carry out your plan when the time comes. Blessings, Luise