Saturday, 3 December 2011

Gaining Comfort

The Gray Family circa 1963- Andrew is on the far left
My brother and I could not have been more different. 
I wear my heart on my sleeve, have a rather indulgent way of what Chris calls "emotionally romping" my way through life's ups and downs and despite assurances to the contrary love a "bit of a fuss".
My brother, on the other hand was a private man, who kept his inner most feelings to himself. Unlike me he was not frivolous but, could , when he was well, share a frivolous story with the humour, timing and sharpness of Joan Rivers at her very best.
His preparation for death was a private matter. He shared a few requests with his much respected consultant  who ensured ,with the unwavering tenacity and strength of his wife , Jayne, that they were carried out to the letter...and when the time came, Andrew died at home, without pain or distress and with his wife and son at his bedside.
I found a great deal of comfort in this fact.
I also found a great deal of comfort at being able to complete a few small personal duties before the Undertaker arrived. I gave Andrew a wash, and a shave and I brushed his hair, so he was all "neat and tidy"
It was something simple that his beloved gran would have done.....and it was of her that I was thinking of as I pottered away.
After I had finished , it was Jayne, his wife that realised what I had subconsciously done, as she laughed how much his hair resembled the "slicked over" style Andrew always had as a boy.

It pleased me that she found it in some way comforting

51 comments:

  1. Thank you to the kind and thoughtful comments on my prevous post, all have been read noted and smiled at. I have also had a load of kind emails, phone calls and cards here at the cottage.
    People have been incredibly kind
    thank you

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  3. John, again, I am sorry for the loss of your brother. I am also sorry that I never got to meet him. But last night when I read what people had posted on Janet's facebook page, and in reading your posts and comments, I almost feel like I have.

    Your simple act of caring for Andrew afterwards also touched my heart. I helped dress my Mother after she had passed away. I found it comforting to dress the person who had first dressed me--Just as you found it comforting to 'tidy up' as you put it, the person who no doubt did the same for you when you were growing up.

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  4. What a beautiful little post that was. I'm glad you were able to do that for your brother and I hope all goes well in the days to come. It was just a year ago today that my father-in-law died and I remember all the hustle and bustle in the days leading to his funeral. Try to take some quiet time in the coming days. I always find hanging out with the farm animals therapeutic. :) xoxo

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  5. I think it was marvelous that your dear brother was able to be a home. Your sister in law sounds like a wonderful person.

    This post really touched me. A loving brother taking care of his beloved brother.

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  6. I am so incredibly moved by this beautiful post that I can't write any more.

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  7. I'm glad his passing was peaceful John and that you were able to give him that one last gift of your service.

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  8. This post moved me to tears, you really are a special person John but you don't need me to tell you that. S x x x x

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  9. I learn so much from you. Your thoughtfulness for your Brother was perfect and I can't think of a better way to act at such a sad time. Such strength you have...you teach me much.

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  10. Andrew was blessed with a lovely family. xxxx

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  11. I think it's wonderful that you performed the very respectful "tidying up" of your brother after he had passed. That is a very thoughtful and loving thing to do. xoxoxoxoxo

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  12. My Dad is like that.

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  13. Bless you John Gray for being who you are, your brother for being who he was. I like that you did the washing up that your Gran would have done, I did that for Don, emotional but an intensely personal farewell!

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  14. A wonderful, loving ritual. I hope you are doing okay.

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  15. What a very special brother you were. And I'm sure that Andrew must have seen you that way too. Again, my deepest sympathies.

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  16. Your ablutions for your brother speak volumes about your kind, caring nature, John. My condolences, too.

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  17. What a loving act. I can not imagine the emotions you must have went through.Don't forget to take care of yourself in this sadness my friend.

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  18. Damn it! You've made me blubber.

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  19. Yorkshire pudding took the words from my mouth.
    Bless you,John.
    Jane x

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  20. I am in tears after reading your moving post. How special you are. Bless you my friend and take care.

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  21. John, I am so pleased to read your blog today and to see that your dear brother had a 'good' death. Having lost my first husband in similar circumstances, albeit from cancer rather than mnd, I know the comfort I got afterwards from knowing that everything went just as I planned it would and that it all happened with peace and dignity. You can't ask for more and I know you will all gain great comfort from that in the weeks and months to come.

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  22. It is so meaningful that you could give these last personal gifts to him.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. It is never easy and there are no words that lessen the pain...just know, you are in my thoughts and my heart.

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  23. My heart goes with you. I never had the opportunity to give my sister the proper, personal farewell that you have been giving your brother. All I did, after she was gone, was remove her jewelry and kiss her good-bye. It was an amazing accomplishment for me at the time and I didn't appreciate how much that would matter to me years later. I know it doesn't necessarily make it easier but it definitely DOES matter.

    By the way, really glad to know you haven't tripped over anything, backed into anyone, chased foxes, blocked traffic, or gotten into fights with any turkeys these past few days. I'm sure your brother is proud.

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  24. there is time yet mitch

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  25. I am so sorry for your loss John. I missed your previous post so had not heard the news. What a lucky man your brother was to be so surrounded by love! I'm sure that he will live on in the hearts of his family and all who love him.

    My heart goes out to you and the feeling of loss over the passing of your brother. I know that there is nothing that I can say or do to lesson your pain.

    Please know that I care.

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  26. Thank you, John, for sharing those private moments with your brother. I'm glad you were there with your family. I am so sorry for you all. Hugs, John.

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  27. I am very tearful writing this John, you really are a lovely person and what a wonderful thing to carry out that last kind act for your brother. Such a beautiful post. My thoughts are with you all.
    Much Love
    Jo xx

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  28. I'm glad you could do him one last favour.
    You were fortunate in his way of passing, that he could give so much to you all.

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  29. That one final act of love you were able to perform for your brother will hold a special place in the secret parts of your heart forever. It's been nearly two decades since my mother died, but I still take solace in the fact that I painted her nails while she was laid out in the funeral parlor. (She would have been appalled at the sight of her unpolished nails!)

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  30. God bless you John Gray.

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  31. I am glad that your brother is no longer suffering and that his wishes were carried out. My heart breaks for you though. You love and concern for your brother has been so apparent in previous posts. Much love, Linda

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  32. You have written a beautiful tribute to Andrew, your love for him shines ...
    Those final acts of kindness and nurturing I think is what gets us through the what has to be our most difficult challenges in life, losing a loved-one.
    I combed my dad's hair (the way he liked it) and fussed about his appearance when he laid in a tiny viewing room at the undertakers.
    I cherished those final days with him, I talked and told him jokes just like we were sitting in the living room of his home.
    My thoughts are with you and your family as you make it through these difficult times.
    Hugs,
    ~JO

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  33. John I think your beloved Gran would have been smiling down on you as you washed Andrew. My thoughts and prayers are all around you and your family xx

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  34. John, you did your Gran proud!

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  35. God bless you, and your family, John.

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  36. Washing the body is a lovely ritual. How calming and wonderful that you could perform this last task for him. In many ways you are blessed. Be strong. Cx

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  37. Thank you all again... but I have to uderline that I am just an ordinary person who had an ordinary relationship with a brother who had to face a bloody awful illness...

    xxx

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  38. You were a good brother, John. Your last act for Andrew was so loving and kind.

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  39. Nothing speaks louder of your love for your brother than your last act.

    Take care of yourself.

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  40. So glad you were able to return him to what hopefully was a happy boyhood.These simple tasks dignify and you have done a beautiful thing for a dear brother.

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  41. John, I just saw the news. I'm so very sorry, so relieved for Andrew, and aching some...for the weight of your family's loss.
    You gave Andrew his last ablutions...I'm glad for it. I really am. I remember when I wrote about bathing my mother way-back-when you left the comment:

    “last offices”
    is the last act of respect and love you can do for a loved one!
    it is a hard act to do….( I couldn't do it for a loved one—even though I have laid out literally 100s of people)…
    I take my hat off to you dia……

    And to you, John. Well done for Andrew and Jayne and you.

    Now I'm off over to Janet's to read the tributes and loving memories.

    With my deepest condolences and respect,
    Dia

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  42. It's so good to hear that you were able to groom Andrew. I remember my brother shaving my father and getting comfort from it. I helped dress my husband in his Oxford City Morris Man's outfit and down the track, I really feel that having that personal involvement after death is very helpful in helping the living accept and move through the grieving process.

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  43. What a very moving post.

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  44. I am glad you were able to complete "a few small personal duties," and i'm sure it has helped you in your grief.

    Like YP, this moved me to tears.

    I'm glad Andrew is no longer in pain but sad for those he has left behind.

    megan

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  45. I was so very sorry to hear of your loss. I never met your dear brother, but I have followed Janet's blog for quite some time now and realize what a very brave man he was and what a very loving family he had. You are all a family to be proud of and my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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  46. So sorry for your loss, John. I am glad your brother was peaceful in the end and you were there to tend to his final needs. Deepest condolences, Lisa

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  47. Andrew was a very lucky man to have been loved so much by so many. I understand the comfort that you got from caring for Andrew for the final time. I hope you'll take good care of you too.
    Maura X

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  48. It's the little things at these times that give everyone some comfort

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  49. What an incredible Brother you were to Andrew. No regrets. May you find abouding peace and joy in knowing that, John. Even past the very end. What a privilege it must be to have you in the lives of those that you love. Big smiles and much love to you. Be well!

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