Words can be comforting, supportive and help validate our experiences – so I feel compelled to share my personal navigation through death and grief with my readers. May my words touch you, help you, talk to your heart, ease memories of saying goodbye and comfort your pain…– Helen’s Journey Blog
The reality of loved ones dying is never an easy one. Yet, what about when you get to the point when you personally feel you shouldn’t be encouraging your dying loved one to keep fighting and hold on anymore? Instead, you feel in your heart it is right for them to go, it would be better for them to be out the pain or suffering or it is their wish to die. How can you express those feelings? How can you give your loved one your ‘permission’ or ‘blessing’ to let go?
I recently found myself in this situation and these questions were running through my head, as these feelings started to weigh heavy on my heart and I needed to find a way to navigate through them – which for me was writing a poem. In this blog post I am sharing the poem I wrote in my Grandad’s last few hours, but I am also writing about my experience with navigating through a loved one dying, with the aim of:
- Helping others have words that express their feelings during similar times and give their family members the words they sometimes need to hear in order to let go.
- Helping others identify with the feelings they themselves felt when they faced a similar situation in their lives in the past.
- You will save the poem to help you through future circumstances when/if they arise in the future, if you haven’t experienced this in your life already.
- You will share this either directly with someone you know going through this or just generally on your social media, email, Whatsapp etc as you never know what people are going through and it could help others through such a heart-wrenching time.
End of Life Poem to give ‘permission’ to a loved one that its okay to go and giving your ‘blessing’ for them to stop fighting and let go:
Below is the ‘permission poem’ or ‘Blessings Note’ I wrote as I sat next to my Grandad Moore in his final hours of life. This poem was me vocalising my understanding for him letting go & the family’s blessing that it’s okay to stop fighting. An hour after finishing this poem, he let go, stopped breathing and embraced heaven.
While you lie there peacefully I want you to know,
We all know the time is right for you to finally let go.
The family are united in love,
with every decision we’ve had to make.
Because we know the clock is ticking,
with every breath you take.
You have had a full and good life,
And we don’t want to see you in strife.
We know your body is tired and really under test.
We all know that you going to heaven,
is really for the best.
It’s not “goodbye” it is “see you soon”
– is the Jesus believers tune.
So we have to trust in God’s timing
and his spiritual plan,
The comforting thing is knowing,
you will soon be reunited with Nan.
So, don’t think of what you are leaving behind.
Instead, may you have heaven on your mind.
From the earthly realm, it is time to depart,
And for your eternal life in Heaven to start.
We will all carry you with us in our heart.
If you would like to save this poem or share it with others, here it is on Pinterest with a general title ‘End of Life Poem’ rather than title of it being my personal one to my Grandad:
How to deal with ‘letting go’ when a loved one’s time has come to ‘let go’ of life:
I had already felt the soul shift in my spirit to change from encouraging him to stay strong and get through it the best he could, to a need to tell him to just let go and to actually die sooner. After my Nan had died a year before, when visiting Grandad I felt it was to encourage him to go on, to keep him laughing, keep him engaged with the outside world and family through technology (video calls, photos, etc). Nan was the organiser, so then the role passed on to organise things in the house to try and make things run as smoothly as they could for him – he nicknamed me ‘the gaffer’ for this reason. HaHa!
However, I had all these feelings and thoughts overloading my mind and heart. Then I remembered a few days before, one of my Grandad’s carers, who also became a friend, said to me often people wait until a family member leaves their side before they let go as the presence of a family member makes them feel they have to hold on for the family. She has also experienced that when family actually tells the person its okay to go, then they will – as hearing is one of the last senses to go even when non-responsive / unconscious.
It was the fourth night in a row I had sat at my Grandad’s side throughout the night (family members were taking it in turns throughout) however, as mentioned above, this time I felt the shift in my feelings. I had to somehow express this different notion of telling Grandad it is okay to go. That is when I opened up my phone and knew I needed to write all these feelings down. For some keeping a diary helps, or listing their questions – but for me it was writing a poem.
I actually finished the poem around 6.15am still by his side. I said goodbye to him at 6.45am. Left the house at 7am. And at 7.20am he passed away. That was the only day after the night shift of sitting with him, that I had left his house & gone home. All the other days I stayed at his house when the next person to sit with him swapped with me.
The fact I wrote this poem telling him it was okay to go, then once I had left he let go – to me has significance to it. It is helping me in the grief process, as in that poem I had already started to say goodbye, and said it is time to go. Acceptance is a big part of mourning and this poem played its part in helping me through the step of acceptance, on the journey through grief.
Navigating through the experience and emotions of a loved one dying
I now want to share with you examples about my experiences navigating through grief at different times in my life, because at each point of grief the thing that helped me wasn’t the same each time round and it wasn’t in the same time frame either. I use these examples as a reminder that we need to be easy on ourselves to take the journey of grief and loss at it’s own pace, for each twist and turn that comes along the way…
If you’ve read my post “Using CREATIVE WRITING / POETRY / PROSE & SONG LYRICS, to express yourself & your inner emotions towards different experiences in life!” then you will know writing poetry and writing in general, is one of my coping mechanisms for expressing myself through different life struggles. So recently when I felt overwhelmed with life and it’s emotions, It was a natural reaction for me to open up my phone and start tying away and this poem just flowed out of me. Maybe writing down your feelings or questions would help you in this situation or other life struggles?
In the past 3 and a half years, along with family, I have cared for three Grandparents in palliative care at home before their deaths. Each case was different in their decline, details, length and personal role – yet all have similar feelings it raises in your heart and mind. The situation of a loved one dying, however it unfolds, forces you to navigate through the experience of caring for and losing a loved one: from decision making, care giving and acceptance – to loss, grief and mourning. Although similar feelings, we all deal with them in different ways, different orders and in different time frames.
There isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ way to feel or deal with issues of dying and death. I think we all have to find what works for us in that moment. Sometimes you cry, sometimes you smile. Sometimes you remember things that make you laugh, sometimes you see something that feels like a punch in the stomach. Sometimes you can’t stop thinking about them, other times you will do anything to keep yourself busy to try not to think about them and get some much needed escapism. It is all trial and error and what worked when grieving a previous death may not be helpful this time around.
After my Grandad Mac died, I couldn’t write about him straight away, but on the 1 year anniversary of him dying I wrote the blog post “Making Friends with Grief! How grief can sometimes be met in a more soothing way by making comforting choices.” In this post I wrote a poem all about the man my Grandad Mac was. It helped me to celebrate his life and his relationship with us all. I encourage you to click the link at the end of this blog post, to read this post that explores different ways you can make comforting choices when it comes to anniversaries and how we mark them. My aim for readers after reading the ideas in this post above is: “May all our friendships with grief blossom to radiate the love we feel for the ones we mourn!“
Grandad Mac’s son, my Uncle Terry died a year later. I was so moved at his funeral that I wrote the blog post “Death’s reminder to treasure loved ones & work towards the legacy you’ll leave behind…” I encourage you to read this blog post to give you a deeper understanding and relevance “to working on the legacy that we leave behind, the love and care we leave behind in loved one’s hearts and the moments and memories that will be shared about us after our departure from this life.“
A year and a half after Grandad Mac’s departure, exactly 4 months after my Uncle’s death – my Nan died. I couldn’t write a poem then either, it just felt so raw. Yet a few months later, on what would have been my Nan & Grandad’s Wedding anniversary I wrote the post “Love and Marriage – a reflection on my Grandparents 70th wedding anniversary!” and in that I share her words to me before she died in order to share life reflections upon love, life and treasuring those we have in it. Again I encourage you to read this post to give a perspective of how blessed we were to have loved at all than to have lost that person in our lives. It looks at changing our viewpoint “from loss to love”. We mourn because of the loss of our loved ones, but after time we may be able to make friends with the grief and once again let that love comfort us, as we still feel the loss but with less rawness.
Yet, there I was an hour before my Grandad Moore’s last breath, finishing off a poem I wrote for him. I feel it is because of the roads I had previously walked down with grief, loss and mourning – that this time on the journey I was able to write my feelings down there and then in the moment I needed to most, no matter how raw it felt. My outpouring into that poem then helped me in the hours following to accept he had died in a different way than I think I would of if I hadn’t have got those feelings out beforehand.
So, I encourage you to find your grief outlet: music, songs, prayers, poems, diary entries, writing about the persons life and character, sharing stories, making photo collages of them, finding forgotten about voice-notes off them on your phone storage, a Bible study plan on grief, etc… – Whatever it is that works for you and at the right time for yourself too. Navigating through grief isn’t easy, but I pray you find what brings you comfort along the way and pick up peace along the way also.– Helen x
My other blog posts about death, dealing with grief and emotions (Click blog titles to open them in another window to read)
- Making Friends with Grief
- Baby Loss Awareness Poem: You will always be my favourite ‘What if’
- Deaths reminder to treasure loved ones & work towards the legacy you’ll leave behind
- Survival Tips for when Life feels Overwhelming
- “Love and Marriage – a reflection on my Grandparents 70th wedding anniversary!”
- Never underestimate the strength of a single light when you feel you are in the darkness of life and death
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