Wednesday, 26 February 2020

76 Years


As you all know I work in a hospice
I am used to watching people closely
And today I was privileged to watch one old friend say goodbye to their lifelong friend.
I noticed the moment when no one else did.
I noticed it because I was looking for it
Unless you are Scarlett O'Hara saying her goodbyes to the saintly Melanie 
I think friends can be slightly overlooked in the access to their chums in the dying process as family members often take centre stage and today I watched the briefest of a hand hold and a brave kiss on a forehead before the family took things over
I followed the visitor outside and asked if they were alright
" Seventy six years" they said quietly with tears in their eyes " we've been friends for over seventy six years," 
And I nodded an acknowledgement
" Seventy years is special " I said lamely
" That it is !" The visitor said and we shook hands carefully before they walked head down across the car park

59 comments:

  1. This interaction perhaps underlines how friends may feel in that awful storm which is loss and grief.
    Some friends, may not be known to family....and may not feel that their grief is as valid as those felt my blood relatives

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. Well done John for that connection.

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  3. Lost a friend a couple of days ago ... not seventy six years but a long time. Life and death is hard sometimes. XXXX

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    Replies
    1. And is just as hard for a friend tonbare x

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  4. Anonymous10:20 pm

    That understanding encounter, however brief that it was, may well have lent the friend the composure needed to get home without breaking down and crying on the way there.Well done,as usual good man.-Mary

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    Replies
    1. Mary, this isn't about me, I wanted to highlight that friends often get overlooked by everyone when someone is dying.
      Often there sometimes feels that there is a hierarchy of perceived grief with family feeling death more acutely?

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  5. That is why you are such a special person. You notice the little things - the special things and acknowledge those. Special friends or warts and all ones as I like to call them the ones you can be yourself with are more than family. They make the difference. A lot of people can nurse, but they are not the same as an Empath/Instinctive Nurse who sees, hears and feels all. A very special gift. When my time comes I hope that I will be nursed by someone as special as you. You are special please do not downplay that gift as gift it is. Very caring x

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    Replies
    1. I sometimes dislike being an empath

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    2. Empathy is decidedly a double-edged sword.
      Thank you for acknowledging that woman's pain to her. I suspect it helped. I hope it helped.

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    3. I know x Instead of seeing black and white, you see black, white and grey. That helps everyone at the end of the day; its just sometimes you could do without it x

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  6. Friends can become the family we've chosen for ourselves, and that is indeed special. I never thought about friends getting overlooked when a person is dying, but I can see how that must be very common. And often times they're hurting as much as or more than actual blood relatives.

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    1. I've seen in some cases ( not at work) that this is a hierarchy of grief or at least pecieved grief.
      Somepopke genuiningly believe that their grief is bigger than others

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  7. When my aunt died at a Hospice,her husband was there,his brother,my aunt's 2 neices,her best friend and her daughter and myself.Her friend sat very close to her at the end and my uncle at the other side.We left together after being brought a tray of tea and biscuits by a Nurse x

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  8. Losing a dear friend can be hard but I don't think it's comparable to the grief felt by a long term partner. Having had a loving relationship with someone for 24 hours a day in excess of 50 years isn't quite the same as a friendship, however close that's been.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it's that pain I wanted to show in today's blog x

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    2. And I respectfully disagree

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  9. When my uncle was dying in our local Hospital his 5 close friends were there with his brother and myself-I knew they were family for my uncle.Sadly when my mum died her cousins husband and her friend had just left and I wished they had stayed x

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  10. You've reminded me of the time I made a final visit to a friend of my parents' who had been like an uncle to me. I was only 25, he'd been a big and strong man but was bedridden. A woman who was visiting her husband in another room came to ask if I was ok and I was ok but I was also incapable of responding to her.
    I still wonder what she thought and how she had the energy to reach out to me

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  11. Yesterday I got a 'friend' request on fb, somebody I'd not talked to or seen in nearly 50 years. We talked on the phone for an hour. It was great, I laughed like I've not in years, just reminiscing with them. Old friends are like certain pearls, some glisten and glow with time, others not.

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  12. Just read the other comments, I think when I 'pass' my kids will readily include the adults they've known, some all their life. Grief is fine, and necessary, but to my mind what I want my friends and kids and grands to do is remember the good times we had. I think our essence, if I may use the term, lives on, though we do not. In their hearts, memories, and in that way we live on too, until they are gone. I know that with me, when I go, my dad will too. I'm the last person alive who knew him. So we'll pass on together.

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  13. I was the only one present at a friend's end. I was surprised to find no children, friends, relatives. She was loved.

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  14. You are a good one for offering a virtual shoulder to lean on in their time of sorrow.

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  15. Now you're making me cry.

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  16. I am crying reading this. I am glad the friends got a chance to say
    goodbye.
    parsnip

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  17. That is so sad. My neighbor died at 94. I watched as she grieved each friend as the friend died even though she never got to visit them.

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  18. Barbara Anne4:38 am

    John, thank you for being such a caring person that you took time to be with the friend who was saying good-bye to his/her friend of 76 year's duration. Grief comes in all sizes. You helped.

    Hugs!

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  19. I was with my mother the moment she died, and I gave her the same final kiss to her forehead. We had only known each other for 34 years, but I'm sure I felt the same as your patient's friend.

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  20. Very sensitive of you as I think of my lifelong friend’s death a couple years ago. We had increased contact her final years across the miles from each other when she noted the significance of our relationship all these years. She was the last friend to have known me all my life and I her — arouses unexpected realizations about life.

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  21. ‘Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.’

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  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Sometimes the ties of friendship are thicker than blood.

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  25. Thank you for sharing this - it moved me deeply. And thank you for acknowledging the friend's grief. So glad you were there for them.

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  26. Heartbreaking. Friends are so often forgotten when it comes to loss. You’re a good one, John.

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  27. When my lovely father in law lay dying in hospital, my OH and I visited every day, even though he didn't appear to be aware of anything. One day, his oldest and dearest friend called in to visit. He hadn't seen him for a week or so and didn't realise how much he had deteriorated. I had been OK up until the point the friend grasped my father in law's hand and said "Oh, my dear friend".
    I had to leave the room.

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  28. There are friends I would sooner have around, than a couple of my family members (well one in particular.) Think about it, put it in writing, tell you family and friends who you would want to see or talk with if it appeared your final goodbye was near.

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  29. It is so hard being a friend and not family when someone you love dies. You feel like an intruder.

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  30. I have grieved at the loss of some friends as much, and maybe more, than I have for family. Family can be iffy (especially in-laws) but friends you choose and their impact on your life is precious. Good friends are loved, old friends are treasured.

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  31. you brought me to the time i said goodbye to my dear friend of 50 years. I think the bond is just as strong if not stronger because -a friend is someone who chooses to be connected - nothing is expected - no contract - no bloodline - just love. your writing gave me chills today. thank you john.

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  32. Your post just reminded me of my dad's recent passing and has stirred up a lot of emotions about friends and death. Today is going to be a rough day :).

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  33. Touching. It's hard for me to imagine knowing anyone that long.

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  34. I've some friends like that - who know more about me than my family do, because they've been there for me more, good times and bad. I've a gay friend - we share some of these best people, knowing them is how we met - who made a great comment one time, that "friends are the family you build."

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  35. Saying goodbye is always hard but having the time and opportunity to say it makes everything easier to bear.

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  36. Acknowledging the friend, their friendship is everything.
    You are a good man John.

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  37. I have three life-long close friends. Two of them have virtually no family left. We all know that we'll be there for each other at the end.
    A very moving post, John. Thank you.

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  38. My mother was my lifetime best friend and I didn't get to be there with her at the end to say goodbye. She passed alone, I so regret that still, ten years later.

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  39. Your connection with the friend will have helped a lot, knowing that someone was there to acknowledge their pain and the briefest of touches will have really helped.

    I lost my best friend of over 30 years some years ago and boy did it hurt. No one realises the gap it leaves in your life when someone who is a different sort of soulmate dies. I have never replaced her, and only deleted her number from my phone a couple of years ago when I realised it was starting to bring me more pain than comfort.

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  40. I've seen a few family and relatives that have tried to dictate who can visit when someone is on the final journey. it's so sad when people are turned away after a lifetime of friendship and association.
    I have often let people in after hours to accommodate this behavior.
    The saddest being a gay man who wasn't being allowed to see his 'partner' on his death bed. The adult children didn't like him and he 'wasn't family'. Well bugger that, making arrangements after hours, became a new hobby. All was well though. But it's so sad when people try to take things over.

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  41. Oh, how sad. I understand that a family sometimes seems greedy to take all the time of their dying relative. We all need to remember that lifelong friends are family, too.

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    Replies
    1. Lori thank you... it was thepoint of this entire blog post xx

      Delete
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  44. I thought I'd posted something but it seems to have disappeared.

    My point was that there is a tendency to under-rate what friendship can be. Too often, friends are regarded as casual outliers, family in the centre and friends treated just as disposable ships-in-the-night. The Victorians seem to have had a much weightier sense of the possibilities of devotion and loyalty between friends. Sure, some commentators have picked these over and declared them to be really gay relationships under false covers, but, though gay myself, I don't think we should rush to insist on this whenever two men or two women display a deep and abiding friendship.

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