My very best friend is currently dealing with losing her Mum. She lost her Dad to illness only last year. Some women, when they lose their life partner, create new lives for themselves. They go on to new and wonderful experiences. Sometimes they mourn the loss of their spouse/partner, sometimes they don’t. Some remain frozen in time, living in a kind of limbo, seeing out their own days. Some women just never get used to being alone. They feel lost, lonely and there is a deep dark void in the heart that life just cannot fill. My friend’s Mum is one of these women. Capable, wicked sense of humour, a no-nonsense approach to life, caring, dedicated to her job and family. Hates people to make a fuss of her or about her. My friend is now with her family, spending the last few days with her mother, who is slowly and consciously letting go of life, refusing treatment. These are going to be the most painful and the most joyous of days, hours and minutes as they say all the things they have never had the chance to say. I know there will be laughter and tears intermingled at the bitter sweetness of reliving memories; the love will be tangible, the depth and warmth of feeling will for a while hold them all in its loving embrace as they try and hold onto every nanosecond with the woman who brought them into the world. My friend describes the time as “surreal”. Even with the understanding that while the physical body dies, the soul lives on, that Mum is exchanging one life for another, reunited with her beloved husband, that she has chosen this path, it does not stop the tears, the grief. And nor should it. We should never under-estimate the loss of a parent, our co-creator on earth. There is no going around, under or over something like this – it has to be faced head on and the feelings and emotions felt to the very depths of our being. What can a friend do at a time like this? Words are meaningless, you feel so helpless, wanting to carry some of their pain, lessen it, but of course you can’t. There is no “fixing” this, making it better. You simply hold your friend in the deepest recesses of your own heart, you feel their pain and you carry it gladly. You weep with them and for them. You hold them and you comfort them and you let them know you are there for them. I salute my friend’s Mum for her courage in steadfastly following her own path. So many will hold onto life, try and prolong it simply to please others, often suffering in the process. She isn’t one of them. She has made a decision with her usual strength of character, brooking no arguments from anyone and these next few days will be spent saying her goodbyes to her children, their partners and grandchildren. So many don’t get that gift – sometimes death comes shockingly and without warning. This whole experience has reminded me of the preciousness of our parents and even if you don’t have a great relationship with them (or no relationship at all) let’s face it, without them you would not even be here reading this! Bon Voyage Pat – be at peace.