Processing Ginny's Death
Three weeks after Ginny’s memorial service, Mary met with Bob and Michael to help them process their experience during Ginny’s final days.
After greetings and hugs, Mary, Bob and Michael settled into the sofas that had been moved back into the sun room now that Mary’s hospital was removed.
“Now that you’ve had some time to reflect, what was the most meaningful moment for each of you in Ginny’s last days and hours?" asked Mary.
Bob and Michael looked at each other to see who would speak first.
“Making my mom’s sash with her and then draping it over her body when she died was special to me,” said Michael. "I was glad to be able to help her make something that was so meaningful to her and to fulfill her wish by draping it over her body.”
Tears began to trickle down Michael’s face.
“Thinking about your mom makes you miss her and feel sad,” Mary observed.
Michael shook his head.
Mary, got up and knelt in front of Michael and took his hand. Bob put his arm around Michael.
“It’s normal to feel sad when you think about your mom and miss her,” Mary said. "That sad feeling is going to come back to you throughout your life. Only, it won’t be as strong the more time passes.”
“Lying next to Ginny and holding her while she was dying was so meaningful to me,” said Bob. “I just wanted Ginny to know I was there and that she was not dying alone.”
Bob’s shoulders began to heave as he fought back sobs.
“It’s okay to cry, Bob,” said Mary, as she took Bob’s hand. “The person you had planned to be with for the rest of your life is gone. That’s a huge loss.”
Bob, pulled some tissues from the box on the coffee table and wiped the tears from his eyes.
“I was moved by how much you both strove to fulfill Ginny’s wishes during her last days and as you kept vigil with her," said Mary. "The two of you lying in bed with Ginny with your arms wrapped around her was such a sacred moment. It was an honor to be present for that.”
“We were honored to have you present,” said Bob.
“Mary, one thing that upset me as my mom was dying was listening to her breathing. It sounded like she was choking,” said Michael.
“When a person is dying mucous and saliva can build up in their throat,” Mary explained. “When they become weaker or lose consciousness, they can lose the ability to clear their throat or swallow. This results in a wet, rattling sound as they breathe in and out through the mucous and saliva. I know it was hard to listen to, but your mom was not in pain or distress.”
“I’m glad she wasn’t in pain,” said Michael.
“You know,” said Bob, “I was doing pretty well the first couple of weeks after Ginny died. But this week has been pretty tough emotionally. It feels like Ginny died yesterday.”
Mary smiled at Bob and said, “It’s not uncommon for you to experience what some people call ‘a grief aftershock.’ The pain and heartache of losing Ginny will come back to you when you least expect it, even years later. You never get over grief. You learn to live with it.”
“That’s helpful to know,” said Bob.
Mary talked with Bob and Michael a little while longer then made another appointment to see them. Over the next month Mary met with Bob and Michael two more times, helping them to process their grief, sharing resources for healing, and finally bringing her work with them to a close.