Post Mortem Etiquette

NYPD One Police Plaza

NYPD One Police Plaza

Did you ever notice that one of the many stupid things people say when you lose a loved one includes the line, “Oh, I’m so sorry, how old were they?”  Well, since I’ve lost someone close to me, where age was never a factor in determining my level of grief, I have come to both dread and outright hate this question.  But now that it has crawled its way into my consciousness, I have no choice but to confront it head on.

The question alone ‘How old were they?’, implies that based on the answer, the questioner can either have a reaction of utter dismay or a reaction of relief, either way it leaves the person who is actually grieving unnerved.  If I respond with “three months old“: dismay, if I respond “ninety“: relief, (followed by stupid response number two: “well, they lived a long life.”)  Am I supposed to buy that line of crap?  Am I supposed to feel less sad for someone I’ve known my whole life, let’s say my grandparent, vs. someone I’ve known for only three months.

Is my grief mitigated by age?

And then there’s the middle aged dilemma, not quite too young to evoke the shock and awe response, but not too old to get that 2nd line of crap.  In fact, people here aren’t quite sure what to do.  Here’s a suggestion, stop asking the fucking question!

My father died at age sixty-seven.  It was sudden and tragic.  Is my heartache any less?  Of course not.  I didn’t see him as young or old, I only saw him as my dad.

In this I am sure I am not alone.  No one wants to measure their grief in time.  From the new mother who gives birth to a stillborn, or the daughter who loses her ninety-six year old mother, grief is grief.

So to all of those thinking about asking this question next time you are face to face with someone who has just lost a loved one, don’t do it.  Be kind, say your sorry, give and hug and move on.  I know I don’t want to be remembered for how old I was when I died, but rather how I lived.

Don’t you?

Reposted courtesy of http://www.inthepowderroom.com

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Mom’s Taking a Sick Day (goddammit!)

The other day I was feeling pretty sick, but as usual was on the schedule to work.  When I announced to my boss’ I was calling out sick; there was a moment of silence, followed by a cackling, belly full of laughter.  “Mom’s can’t call out sick!” responded my three little managers, rolling around on the floor still laughing.  Oh yeah, I thought.  I’d show them.  I was going to have a sick day goddammit!  Even if it killed me.

Lucky for me I got sick over Christmas break.  My husband was off from work all week which meant I had reinforcements.  So I made my announcement to my husband that I was sick, and needed the day off.  I got the same incredulous look from him that I got from the children, followed by the comment, “Really, you don’t look sick.”  I get this comment a lot.  I have the uncanny ability to look really well when I’m sick.  I’m naturally pale, and when I’m ill and running a low grade temperature, my cheeks take on this pinkish, rosy hue, that makes me look as if I’ve just come from a day at the beach.  The mucous packed sinus’ gives me just that bit of swelling that people pay their plastic surgeon thousands to recreate.  Instead of looking miserable, I look refreshed, so no one takes me seriously.

But I wasn’t going down without a fight, and sternly reinforced my position to my husband that I was indeed sick, and that I was taking the day off to recuperate.  He acquiesced, still suspicious that I was faking it, but smart enough to keep his mouth shut, avoiding unnecessary conflict.  Feeling somewhat vindicated, I dressed in my coziest pajamas, and snuggled myself under my warmest blanket on the couch, in front of the TV, just like my mom used do for me when I was a kid, (the same way I now do for my own children).

As I lay there in full command of the remote control, my three children stared at me in amazement, then fired a barrage of questions:  “Mom, why are you still in your p.j.’s?, Mom, are you sick? Mom, what are you watching?, Mom, can I watch cartoons? Mom, are you going to stay there all day? Mom, are you going to get up to go to the bathroom?  Whose going to feed us? Can we lay there with you?”  I soon realized that as long as I was in sight, I was in mind.  I got up, handed over the remote control, and made my way upstairs to my bed, shutting the door behind me.

Ah, peace and quite until…

‘Knock, knock’,

“Whose there?” I responded.

“Lettuce”

“Lettuce who?”

“Let us in Mom!”

Oh no, they were back; I hadn’t locked the door.  In they came like moths to a flame.  Armed with more questions about what I was doing in bed.  I asked them what their father was doing, and why didn’t they go spend some time with him.  Apparently they weren’t into a Judge Judy Christmas marathon, and wanted to be with me.  And I’m thinking, how is it my husband can spend the day on the couch, uninterrupted, completely healthy, and not helping to keep the children from disturbing their sick mother?  Again, I think he thinks I’m faking it.  And I’m thinking these kids are never going away.  I thought maybe if I could throw up they might get grossed out and leave, but the only person I was grossing out was myself.  What kind of low had I sunk to?

I needed someplace to go.  A reprieve for sick mom’s.  A place where the children couldn’t go, and my husband wouldn’t want to.  But where?  That type of retreat hadn’t been invented yet (but would be going right to the top of my nurse entrepreneur to do list).  I needed help now, and I knew just where to go.

I packed my overnight bag, pulled on my heavy winter coat, kissed my three kids on top of their heads, then said goodbye to my husband.  He looked at me surprised and said, “Where are you going?”  I replied, “To the only place I can get some peace and quiet.“, then walked out the door.

That afternoon, in my cozy p.j’s, snuggled under a warm blanket on the couch, watching T.V. I knew I finally was having that sick day I so deserved.  “More soup honey?”  said my mom as she checked my forehead for a temperature.  “No thanks.” I said.

Then I rolled over and fell fast asleep.

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Reposted courtesy of  http://www.inthepowderroom.com

Happy Belated New Year!

001I know, I know it’s January 18th and I’m a little late for a Happy New Year.  The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  My family and I decided to drive from New York to Florida over the ten-day Christmas/New Year break: me, my husband, our three kids, and the dog.  After a treacherous 12 hour ride (that should have taken 8) over the mountains of Pennsylvania through the middle of a blizzard/ice storm, followed by a slow ride through thick fog, into lonely, dark, back woods, country roads, we made it to our first destination, Virginia.  This was our drop spot for the dog, who was to take her own vacation with my husband’s uncle and his two dogs. ( It’s still a toss up as to who had the better vacation.)

As for the kids, it wouldn’t be a trip to Florida if we didn’t hit some sort of amusement park; amusing for them, nauseating for me.  I happily spent the time with my five-year old, (who was too short for the big coasters), wandering around the Sesame play area of Busch Gardens.  I even managed to stomach the Grover Express, a kiddie roller coaster, that in my opinion, was way too fast and scary for me the little ones.  We spent a great week visiting with family and enjoying the sunshine, when sadly it was time to head home.

Our ride home was far less eventful.  We picked up our pooch, and made it back to New York where we were greeted by a blanket of snow and a frosting of ice.  Gotta love the winter!

We weren’t home a week, when two of my three kids came down with strep throat, and I have been playing nurse maid ever since.  It’s been sleepless nights, and countless doses of medicine; just in time to prepare me for my return to the night shift.  Yes, the night shift.  I’m going back to work in the ICU part-time on the night shift (it’s all that’s available for now).  I’m also going back to school.  So 2013 is going to be a very busy year for me.

On that note, I plan on reposting a few of my articles, (with permission of course), that I had written for a website known as In The Powder Roomhttp://inthepowderroom.com I need a bit of time to catch up on the new posts I want to write, and I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit busy with school, work, family, and life in general.  So until I’m able to juggle it all, and figure it out, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

I hope everyone who reads this had a great holiday season, is not too devastated by the flu, and has a wonderful 2013 to look forward to.

Happy New Year!!