Read Carrie’s story below:
In July 2003, my beloved grandmother was diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable form of brain cancer, and it would ultimately claim her life less than 6 months later. She was only 72.
In the weeks and months leading up to her death, I noticed that those closest to her (her husband, her son, and her daughter – my own mother) held fast in their conviction that she would be healed. They encouraged her to never give up (she didn’t), to keep fighting (she did), and to just trust in God (she did this the most).
At the time, I was only 28 years old. Grandma Dolly and I were incredibly close. Since her husband often had to work until 9:00 in the evening, I would join her once or twice a week for dinner and girl time. I had not yet become a nurse, but had always been fascinated by medicine, so she and I would speak openly and honestly about her cancer and what was happening to her body…..usually over pizza and beers. She was the coolest. 🙂
One evening towards the end of October, she confided in me that, while she so appreciated her family’s love and support, she was frustrated that no one would let her talk about the end of her life and her last wishes. She knew that my faith was strong, but that I was also a realist and that talking about death didn’t intimidate me.
So, that night, we sat and talked for over an hour and planned her funeral, right down to the clothes she wanted to be buried in, to what hymns she wanted the congregation to sing. We talked about how she wasn’t afraid to die, but that she was worried about how her children and grandchildren would handle her death, as most seemed to think it wouldn’t happen. Most importantly, she thanked me for being willing to just listen to her and let her get it off her chest.
I happened to be eating dinner at my parents’ house when we got the call in early January. She had stopped breathing, and the Hospice nurse was on her way. We were at her house in less than 10 minutes. After the nurse officially declared her, my mom and my grandmother’s husband were in a state of shock and disbelief, not quite knowing where to begin. I pulled the list of my grandmother’s last wishes from my purse and shared it with them. They were stunned at first, and then overwhelmingly grateful.
They knew Dolly’s wishes. Thanks to Carrie.
If you need help knowing what to ask, the Missing Pieces Plan provides an entire worksheet on how to preplan your celebration.
Carrie, thank you for sharing your story.