Death Through a Pinhole

One person’s experience of bereavement.



Most of us fear the passing of time and the ailments of age upon the body; conversely most of us hope to eventually complete this journey one day. No matter how carefully one traverses the minefield of life, it is still a minefield.


Forty-eight hours passing in pink ribbon streams and Satin Bow sobs, tubes of sealed roses and hobbling septuagenarian shop keepers. Teary-smiles shift around the fuzzy images of family long-passed, a half-way dead arm struck numb by the potential to save lives.

 And the final moments of her final grandparent.


Spirit-marinaded, sitting mid-field on a tartan picnic blanket and soaking up the day in denial, while seventy-odd miles away, her Nan—her last grandparent—lay comatose on a bed in a ‘nursing’ home some forty miles away. Alone. And dying. Her body suffering the signs of self-starvation and hyper-dehydration: her mind diluted in the end stages of Parkinson’s. The lucid moments were far and few between; one can only hope her self-famishment was due to a choice not to continue rather than inflicted by a disease-mauled mind.


Emotions borne by a close-one’s death are something of a curiosity to her. One would imagine loss is the sum emotional burden the bereaved would be dealing with, in actual fact ‘bereavement’, she learned, is an intricate web: guilt, anger, remorse and feelings occurring as a result of unresolved conflicts or negative memories, and often denial.


When her granddad died, it was sad that predominantly negative memories of her Nan flooded everything. Something had filtered out all the colours; she was watching a pinhole-video of memories when she needed to watch widescreen. You may wonder how it is possible to focus on a few fallouts, a few misjudgments on both sides and hold them against everything that person was? It was so irrational, but sat like a stubborn stain on her white blouse.


Everything was clouded, it was only with speaking to family, and with time, that the curtains opened and the clouds parted allowing her to view in widescreen once again.

Her Nan and Grandad spent the best years of their retirement going to stay with her parents and looking after her and her brother. Every week, they cleaned the house thoroughly from head to foot so her parents didn’t have to, meaning her Mum and Dad could then spend that time with her and her brother.

Every week they were superbly generous with pocket money—especially as her mum and dad didn’t give her any.

Every week they brought her and her brother a bag of chocolates—gratefully received as her mum and dad didn’t buy chocolate.

Every week they would attend her sport events or assemblies, without fail—and on-time; a sweet refresher from her parents’ guaranteed tardiness to every important event—ever.

How could I have forgotten?


Nan would knit jumpers, school cardigans,gloves, hats and scarves; we were never cold. Nan was the maker of possibly the best pickled onions the world has ever known and would make them on demand because I could happily polish off a jar a week. Nanny also knitted me an exquisite rainbow scarf when I was sixteen, because it was the cool thing to have. It was all colours of the rainbow with long wispy tails and she never even asked for money towards the many tens of bundles of wool she had to buy for it—and probably never used again.

How could I have forgotten?


These things remembered, it dawned on me that I had committed my greatest crime: I cannot remember ever thanking them.


As children you simply take these things for granted. As I grew older I began to realise the gravity of what they gave up, but the opportunity to thank never presented itself when they were alive, or so I thought, and then it was too late. I committed a crime of silence, possibly a crime of pulling a blind-spot on thanking them, always thinking I could do it later. Maybe it was a crime of reluctance to dredge up and deal with the negative memories. The resulting feelings following my grandparents’ death were self-inflicted, but the symptoms are partially permanent; I will always regret not thanking them. I will always regret not clearing the water.


I always hate these cheesy little bits of advice people spoon in at the end of entries, but this once I will make an exception, and I apologise profusely for it!

Make amends in the moment; later may not be an option.


(Thank you for the image.)



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