On living when death is closeby…

As a psychotherapist I sometimes get invited to write for the Irish Farmer’s Journal by the extremely compassionate journalist Maria Moynihan.
This is a particularly touching letter and response I wrote that might help some of you dealing with or in the throws of grief…
 I write this letter with a heavy heart. I also write in the hope you will publish this letter about our mother-in-law, who unfortunately is in her last days/weeks of her life. She has been a loyal reader of The Farmers Journal for as long as our husbands can remember and secretly hoped to make it to the page some day; but thankfully her daughter-in-laws have never had the need to complain about her; well nothing too serious anyway! Our mother-in-law often refers to your page mentioning different issues daughters-in-law encounter with their respective mothers-in-law. She sometime jokes, “I better stop or you’ll be writing to the Farmers Journal about me…” thinking she’s interfering with either my or my sister-in-law’s business. Let us paint the picture for you. We are married to two of her sons who are the most loving husbands, friends and fathers to our beautiful children. They are who they are because of their mother. We all live next door to my mother-in-law. Our mother-in-law is the hub of the family and a magnet for her kids, grandkids and her own siblings. She always says what’s on her mind, which is a great trait. She is the most caring, loving, giving woman we know and has always been so supportive to us all. That is not the problem, it sure is not. The issue is that she has endured a very long and brave fight with the big ‘C’ for the last seven years. Unfortunately, the monster of a disease will win on this occasion. We’re afraid of what’s ahead. The fear of losing an amazing mother-in-law, a friend, the grandmother to her adoring grandkids. We fear how we are going to tell the kids how their Nana has passed; a Nana they ask about seeing every day and if they can go visit her. It’s heart-breaking. We want them to see her, but we also want them to remember her as she was up until recently. The Nana that would collect the kids from school and play Rudolf the red nose reindeer in the middle of April on the car CD to give the kids a laugh on the way home. What is the best way we can tell her how much she means to us and the kids. “I love you” is so insufficient. “Thank you” is insufficient. “You’re an amazing woman” is an extreme injustice. We know she knows how much she means to our husbands and her kids – they have a very close relationship. She has instilled ‘family is family’ mantra with them. How can we be the support our husbands and their siblings need? We want to thank her for making our husbands into the men they are. We will be lost without her. How can we be of support to her and her family whilst they endure seeing the woman we all love slowly slip away? Please help, Loving daughter-in-law

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