Monday, 14 November 2016

Uncomfortable Thoughts


The great thing about the blog world is that it can be so anonymous, one can be completely honest and confess things to one's blog friends that one wouldn't to one's nearest and dearest.  So it is with my thoughts about a sad event in the family: my husband's youngest sister's funeral last week.  He is one of a family of 7, of which he is the youngest of the first five. 8 years after his birth, his mother had another child and then decided to have another, so as not to have an 'only' child.  Also, in those days - contraception was by no means as easy as it is today.  Hence the first five.  Not to mention the last two. She was in her early forties. I remember my mother-in-law as being fiercely proud, spending her days furiously sewing for her large family and determined that no-one in their small town should ever say that her children weren't well-fed and cared for.  Every time they 'went to town', she would line up her children in the bathroom and wash their fine, blonde hair. She was actually amazing. She put her youngest child, a son, through University, partly by baking 12 sponge cakes daily, which she would ice and take to the local home produce shop. Sadly, both he and his sister, the second litter, are now deceased.  The others are all still living. What does that prove?  The youngest was like a shooting star, he became very sucessful but encountered severe financial problems.  (You may remember he took his own life). His sister was 'different'. I remember asking my husband if she was a Mongol child when I first met him, so different was she from the rest of the family.  I have since learned that she wasn't, but she was definitely a 'few tiles short of a roof'.  My mother-in-law would never admit this, but S was a problem child and grew up to be a 'problem' adult in various ways, but in the end she did hold down various jobs, never asked the family for any help and lived her own life. 
Her funeral was last week.  We are all suffering from guilt.  She had a bad case of flu for five weeks, she was grossly overweight, she smoked, she drank somewhat, she was very sedentary.
Eventually, she was in a government hospital where for some reason they gave her a cortisone injection to which she proved allergic. She swelled up even more, felt awful, but didn't have Medical Aid and died at home one day of a heart attack.
Those that could went to the funeral.  I would say there were about 30 people present, half of which were S's friends - from the coloured or black community.  She was a kind person and had many friends, some of whom travelled far to attend her funeral. She never saw 'color' and thus put many of us, her family to shame. 
We all feel some guilt. We are all better off than she. Could we not have helped? We all say we didn't realise her health situation was so precarious.  Did we turn a blind eye? 
I for one, have worried for a few years that we would have to support S once she reached an age when she could no longer work. She had casual employent but it didn't come with a pension.  
Now, we are all helping with the funeral costs, but I confess that I am relieved that this will be a once-off payment. Relief is the main feeling I have regarding her decease. I feel bad, I feel almost grateful that fate decided things this way.  What is worse - I don't think I am the only one, but no-one else is saying.


  1. "in the end she did hold down various jobs, never asked the family for any help and lived her own life."
    I understand your feelings of guilt, I think we all wonder if we couldn't have done more, said something, intervened, etc. when someone dies at a youngish age. But your statement I've copied above tells me that S lived her life as she wished. Was it what the family would have wished for her? Probably not. But it would seem she lived her life on her own terms.
    It's an awful thing that she was given medicine that she was allergic to and the health providers did not address it properly.
    My condolences to you and the rest of her family.

    1. Your comment is very helpful for me. It's true my mother-in-law never gave up trying to make S live the kind of life the rest of the family enjoyed but yes, S was quite happy as she was. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss.
    If she was happy then she was successful and shes going to be in heaven waiting for her siblings to join her one day.

  3. It is natural to wonder "if only" thoughts and also natural to feel the relief of a burden of guilt. I am truly sorry for this loss and all the pain it generated.

    1. I really appreciate your empathy and understanding. Thank you.

  4. Sometimes I wish my blog was anonymous.
    You've expressed here what many would think, but not say. You're not alone with those thoughts that can be construed as selfish; however, I don't believe they are. You're being honest and realistic.
    My husband's cousin recently passed. A professional, successful attractive woman who was an alcoholic, succumbed to it - severe liver damage. She died practically destitute. I had similar thoughts as yours.

    I agree with Eileen. For whatever reasons, she chose her lifestyle and may have been more satisfied than we know.

    My sympathies also. (Ironically, I enjoyed reading about your husband's family story.)