Food: living and dying

The hospice nurse gave me a small blue print off of no more than 5 pages. “This will help” she said in her Mississippi accent. “Gone from my sight: The dying experience.” I looked at my 99-year-old grandmother who couldn’t hear any of the explanations. But she knows. She has been going through all these outlined steps for months now. We knew too. But the typed words on the blue paper screamed the reality.

These few pages offer a small glimpse into the signs of letting go. The first step covered is withdrawal then food. It explains that food is our energy, and it is what keeps us going, moving —living. This is one of the first ways of preparing to die. Stop eating. Actually, it is a gradual decrease. Nothing tastes good. Cravings come and go. Liquids are preferred. “I just don’t feel like eating.”  “I eat because I have to.”  I have heard this from my grandmother for months. I see pictures of her from just last year, and she has lost at least 20 pounds.  I still went out bought her chocolate Boost and put in her fridge even after reading all this, I think she needs this right?

So the blue pages continue with 1-2 weeks before death and then 1-2 days, then 1-2 hours. I think this helps. My mind understands all these things. It understands letting go and not wanting her to be in pain or suffering in any way. She has lived a long and beautiful life, and I know she misses so much of her family that have gone before her. She misses her oldest son.

So food continues on in very small portions. The blue words say it is okay not to eat. “A different energy is needed now. A spiritual energy, not a physical one, will sustain from here on.” But until then, if she wants an extra-large milkshake, she will get one. If she doesn’t, then I have to be okay with that too because she is not yet gone from my sight. Blue pages end with a poem:







The poem actually reminded of Sting’s “The Wild Wild Sea” which I understand he wrote after the death of his father.





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