Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Myth Shattered

There's a myth out there -- I think a myth held and cherished by a lot of men -- that women have a kind of innate wisdom about birth and death; that they somehow Always Know What To Do, and that that's why women always seem to be attendant at these crossroads of human life.

I wish that this were true. And maybe it is for some women. But it's not for me.

I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies. And, despite the death of both my parents, I don't know nothin' 'bout helpin' the dyin'. In both cases I am the emotional equivalent of my dad frantically chain-smoking in the waiting room.

7 comments:

Kathryn said...

Oh LC - I suspect you are doing just fine by caring and praying and trying to answer imponderable questions in the face of medical unhelpfulness. And we're praying for your aunt and for you and FT as this long journey winds onwards.

Trish said...

I know that you're in deep pondering mode, but I thought I would offer something of practicality (My specialty; ask some of my dorm mates). I recently read a short book printed by the now defunct AAL called, "Step By Step; Your Guide to Making Practical Decisions When a Loved One Dies." It was fairly helpful, and thus stays on my bookshelf for future reference. Peace to you in your waiting and your pondering.

southernbooklover said...

No one knows what to do during the waiting time. It's awful. You are doing exactly what you are supposed to do: you are there, in prayer and in person.

Pardon my language, but death sucks. Yes, glory is on the other side, but getting there can be agony for all concerned.

Hang in there and know that others are praying for your strength and your aunt's comfort.

Crimson Rambler said...

what Kathryn said. There is grace just in 'being there'.

kg said...

You know, just like that baby has never been born before and doesn't know anything about how to be a baby....your aunt has never been in the position she's in right now either and doesn't know anything about how to be a dying person.
Even if you had experience with dying people and that experience was good you've never been in this position with your aunt before.
It is all new ground, you are both finding your way through it.
Continuing to be there in your way as you are truly is something.
Don't sell yourself short. Be gentle with your aunt and yourself.

LutherPunk said...

the flip side of that myth is that men are inherently incompetent and incapable of being as asset in the delivery room, and that a woman MUST have another woman to serve as a birth coach or must hire a doula. this one especially bothers me because no one knows my wife like me, and we have a level of trust that has taken years and babies to build, so as a man i feel like i am pretty darned good one to have in delivery. i know what mrs. lp wants (we do thorough birth plans) and the doctors and nurses will know if she can't speak for herself at the moment.

on the flip side, you would think that as a pastor i would be better at comforting the dying. but all i know to do is pray the prayer of the church and hold the hands of those who need it. i hope it helps, but i am always worried that it doesn't.

Tom in Ontario said...

I don't think there's any magic formula for comforting the bereaved or being there for the dying. A big part is being there in whatever capacity and for whatever time you can. Another big part is genuine caring. As for the right words, that can be tricky sometimes but some words are always helpful. I found that "this sucks" or "this has to be hard" and "I'm very sorry" are good ones. Also giving permission to feel sad, to cry, to be angry, to feel whatever they happen to be feeling is good too. And offering to pray, whether it's out of a prayer book or out of your heart/mind, is always good. And I stress offering to pray rather than forcing a prayer on them. I always ask, "Can I pray with you?"

And if you say or do the wrong thing? There is forgiveness and you're not going to do permanent damage to anyone. We're only human. And next time around you'll know one wrong thing not to do.