Julie and I began a journey 4 years ago when I wrote a book review for the book she had written about her father, his cancer diagnosis, and his eventual death.
This began a wonderful friendship, book writing, and editing partnership! From that first book review came the idea to write our own book together; Journey’s End: Death, Dying and the End of Life published in July of 2017 with Xlibris.
We began the process of working on book 2 earlier this year. I figure we have another 6-9 months to go before we publish…..
Again, we have connected and met many individuals who want to be a part of book 2 as we call it, and I love and am energized that we are all writing on a topic that needs to be discussed, planned for, removed from the quiet, whispered conversations to becoming a regular conversation that happens between family members, friends, colleagues, and more…
During all this – book 1 and writing book 2, a lot has happened. I divorced my first husband, Julie’s husband was diagnosed with cancer and died in March of this year-2018, and I recently remarried.
Julie and I have forged ahead and supported one another. She is in Toronto and I in Montreal. But the thing with friendships is modern technology! Smartphones, LinkedIn, and other social media. We find a way to keep in touch! She actually came to Montreal when I presented at a Local Author Salon this past May.
We have met many wonderful professionals along the way…. follow this journey with us.
Here is a sneak peak at book 2- Journey’s End: Cultural, Ethnic, and Religious Perspectives on Death and Dying… by Victoria Brewster
My first experience with human death was when my great-grandmother died when I was in high school. She lived in Florida and I was in New York State. Death became a more regular thing as life went on; both my godparents died and they were like grandparents to me. My ex’s mother died when we were married only a few years, both of my grandmother’s died, both of my ex’s grandmothers died, my brother-in-law’s father died. We actually held two shivas back to back; I remember the funeral home did not believe us when we said to leave the shiva chairs.
My great uncle died, my brother-in-law’s mother died, a former neighbor’s little boy, age 6, died in a tragic accident; my sister-in-law’s father died, a colleague whom I had know for many years died, and I have had many (too many to count) clients die over the years, as I work with seniors/older adults as a case manager.
Needless to say, death is a part of life and cannot be avoided. Our upbringings, values, and morals all play a part, along with religion, culture, and ethnicity; in addition to our openness to the topic.
I do not shy away from the topic, but many will. Not talking about it does not change reality; we will all die. We do not know when, for the most part, but every living thing will die one day.
I explain this to my kids all the time. The trees, grass, flowers, pets, humans will all die one day. I do not want them to be surprised, but they are not, as they too have been exposed to death; their great-grandmother, their uncles’ parents, their aunt’s father, a neighbor’s 6 year-old child whom they knew, their own dog, Zoe, whom they had known since birth. They were present when she was ‘put to sleep’ as she was very sick.
In September 2017, I had to take my youngest daughter’s bunny to the vet, as she was sick. She was three months old and she had been with us for two months. I expected the vet would need to keep her overnight to give her fluids and antibiotics. What I got was, “It is much worse than we thought. There are two choices. We can try treatment, but we do not think it will help and will be expensive or put her down (euthanasia).” My response was, “What? This was not what I was expecting at all! My daughter is not even here to say goodbye. Can I get another opinion? Can you please ask the other vet their thoughts?” The other vet said the same thing. The most humane thing was to euthanize her. I did not want this little bunny to suffer and one could see she was. She lacked energy, she was isolating herself; she was barely eating or drinking, but she still liked to be cuddled. I made the choice to put her down and it was hard. Understandably, my daughter was very upset, but she did understand why I made the choice.
I can honestly say the most difficult funeral I have ever been to was a 6 year-old’s. Listening to the parents and other family members speak, the kindergarten teacher’s speech broke my heart. I do not think I ever cried so much at a funeral as this one. No parent should bury a child. It is, or seems to be, unnatural. Taking my kids with me to the funeral was also hard, but their father and I did not want to shield them from the funeral or the death, and they both wanted to go with us.
My youngest still talks about this child every once in awhile, as they were friends. What I like is the elementary school where this child attended every year does a fundraising event to raise money for the local children’s hospital.
Remembering is important. Memories are important. How do you want to be remembered?