wings and things

14. Death and dying

on August 21, 2017

About a year ago, Anthony had a series of TIAs (mini-strokes) and was unconscious on and off for a few days. I panicked and began funeral arrangements but he ‘did a Lazarus’ and has been as okay as is possible since then. Recently – the last few days – I have noticed a marked deterioration and this afternoon I couldn’t wake him up and he looked deathly.

I am once again afraid even though I know that tomorrow he will probably be bright-eyed again like he was a week ago. On the other hand, I think I better go back to the funeral people and finish the arrangements just in case.

A friend of mine, whose husband has been in care for around the same time as Anthony (he had a massive stroke), has invited me to a seminar this week on death and dying so I’m going to go. I think it will help me to be more prepared mentally and emotionally. If Anthony were suffering constant pain or distress I would be wanting him to die, but he is so comfortable and uncomplaining that I can’t even imagine it.

It is so many years now that I have been trying to prepare myself for Anthony’s death – ever since the prostate cancer diagnosis when the urologist said he probably had 1-3 years to live (around eight years ago!) But then the Parkinson’s disease took precedence and has been by far the more debilitating of the two diseases.

The fact that Anthony is still such a huge part of my life on a daily basis (even when I don’t go in to the nursing home), the fact that I don’t find visiting him and being with him at all onerous, and the fact that we derive so much enjoyment from each other’s company, leaves me ill-prepared. It will not be a relief when he dies; it will be the most grief I have ever felt, and I’m not ready.

I don’t think Ming is ready either, although he just assured me that he is, well, sort of. He also assured me that he will come with me next time I make an appointment with the funeral directors. I think it’s about time we got back to the business side of Anthony’s death.

One of the things I should probably do is to figure out what to do with my ‘Anthony time’ once he is gone. Of course there is the book I’m writing and that will help, but the gap he will leave in our lives is going to be massive.

This feels like the peak of the anticipatory grief I have felt for so long that it’s like a second skin; this is the knife edge of the most terrible mixture of fear and love. But perhaps this isn’t the end after all and tomorrow Anthony will look at me, smile his slow smile and repeat what he said the other day: “You’re still beautiful, Jules.”




26 responses to “14. Death and dying

  1. Julie, this reminds me of a little lady (and I mean little, she was about 4 foot 9 inches tall) who came to our attention every year at the same time. Her mental status would decline greatly, and for a couple of weeks we (protective services) would find ourselves working with the family to figure out what was going on. Without fail, at the beginning of this time period every year, she would start to walk to the police station (about one and a half miles away) and make complaints about people. It turned out that this time of year always centered around the loss of her father. Over my years in this field, it became common to see a decline in someone on or around the anniversary of something emotional in their lives.

    I know this doesn’t pertain to your love and what you are going through. But it resonated with me so strongly when I read this that I wanted to share it with you.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and Anthony and Ming’s love. I truly believe it is meant to guide us and remind us. ❤

  2. Moira says:

    Dear girl, thinking of you. Just take it day by day, go with your feelings and don’t fight them. Your feelings are yours alone. Be kind to yourself and just treasure each day that is left wether it be few or many. Much love, Moira xxx

  3. Leanne says:


  4. Vicki says:

    The Never-knowing must be awful, but I think you deal with the uncertainty very well…..on the surface. I am concerned about the Inner You though. There is no real way to prepare for the future. Just know that you are lucky to have good friends and family around you who can help carry the Grief and support you in every way.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have been gripped by fear since my visit with him and you yesterday. I can’t get the image of him out of my head, lying with his eyes closed and his usual vibrancy dormant. His face was different and I felt afraid. I too am not prepared. He is deeply, deeply in my heart. It is quite impossible to imagine a world without you, Anthony.

  6. While I don’t believe necessarily that one can ever truly prepare for the death of a close loved one, I do think it is less traumatic when it is not ‘sudden’. Whether we are conscious of it or not, I believe our emotions, our mind.. eases into our thought process. No matter ‘sudden or gradual’ grieving will be the harsh reality…. Each person to take their way, and their time…. not what others suggest is ‘enough’…
    When I saw the video you and Ming did, I actually thought you might continue speaking; perhaps in groups of those who are dealing with various forms of dementia, whether it be from the aging process, those perhaps with Alzheimer or Parkinson.. or other forms. I can see this as a real help and giving information in a way that is easy to understand … with a dash of light humour where it can be found…. (There… now that’s just my thoughts.. again) Diane

  7. *hugs* for you and Ming! ♡
    Diana xo

  8. mimijk says:

    Sending you love, prayers and a profound personal understanding…hugs, m

  9. tersiaburger says:

    My dear friend…. The dying process literally has tick boxes. Nothing can prepare you even if you think you are prepared…. It is, however, helpful to recognise the signs of dying. Lots of love – Tersia

  10. I didn’t want to click “Like” on this one, but I want to show support. Keep up your strength, Girl.

  11. susanpoozan says:

    While there is life there is hope!

  12. Luanne says:

    Sending you hugs.

  13. A heart-wrenching but good choice to take the seminar. I don’t think we are ever “ready” in a situation such as this.I even feel a little scared reading this, to be truthful. Makes me want to wrap you and Ming in a big cozy blanket.Glad you are keeping it real.

  14. tootlepedal says:

    Getting organised can only be a very good idea. You can never tell what things will be like when the worst happens.

  15. The thought of losing Anthony would be heartbreaking for you and Ming and nothing will really prepare you for the lose when it comes but if there are things you can do that may help a little then do them and cherish each day you have with him

  16. ksbeth says:

    you are so fortunate to have this time, these days, and these conversations –

  17. Heather Hugo says:

    Dearest Jules, You and Ming are tucked up in my heart where I know God dwells. Dan and I love you so much. Heather

    Sent from my iPad


  18. Cyber hugs. That’s all I can offer. Wish I could do it in person.

  19. Judy says:

    Thinking of you, dear Julie and wishing I could hug you right now. Such a long and weary journey with the destination of grief looming ahead for you.

  20. judyrutrider says:

    I’m in the same place with facing my mom’s decline. I know i should, at the very least, acquaint myself with what to do if she dies suddenly, but I just can’t force myself into action. The thought of life without my best friend is inconceivable.

  21. misifusa says:

    Sending heartfelt hugs Jules. xoxo

  22. Val Boyko says:

    So touching Julie. Hugs to you 💕

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