"Autism & Memoirs of an Old Maid"…C'hele's Story

September 11, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — C'hele @ 08:21


It really wants to mess you up. Its only a blind- not only for the person passing, but for the witness as well. I was blessed to be part of an amazing, transformative experience. There is a magic to be found when there are women surrounding a loved one whilst he or she is dying. There is magic to be found if one can put their own ego aside for the one passing. Women have a long history of being the caretakers of the sick, the elderly, the dying and after-death care.

I cannot explain it. I cannot find all the answers. But the little reading I did do, I understand that women have always been held in high regard to being “the strong care-takers” regarding death. There was five of us, all women in my family that surrounded my grandfather as he passed over. Every single one of us were calm and supportive as my grandfather asked, “how long is it going to take?”

I was, I hope, an instrument towards something positive as my grandfather was dying. Upon the doctor telling us that there was nothing more that he could do, my main concern was that my grandfather would at last, feel no more pain. As much as I was conscientious and sensitive about asking this question to the doctor with my grandfather in the room, the last words he spoke to us was, “I feel no more pain,” and he forced a smile. That simple, freaking act, will haunt me till my own death. My grandfather then took a long, drawn breath- his last, before he passed away.

I have done much reading on the subject. Death, I have read, is the one major test placed upon mankind. If one can accept and prepare for his or her own death, one has found true liberation upon this plane. Death…..is, as many of us have heard, only a beginning. I have read, that true happiness upon earth can only manifest when one has accepted one’s mortality and the art of dying. Yes, it is an art-form. Many different cultures will tell you so.

My grandfather, a true Finnish-born man despite his Swedish bloodlines, fought for the Finnish Army in WW II and truly modelled what it was to have “Sisu.” He was to me, invincible. He could beat any odds, (but I knew one day it would catch up with him). Despite all his health issues, despite all the doctors comments about the odds and that he should have been dead 15 years ago, my grandfather proved to everyone what he was made of. And even though he was 85, it was too early for him to die in my eyes. But, his father (who abandoned him when he was eight and moved to Australia), lived to 85. So, my grandfather set that age as his own personal goal. He died a month after his 85th birthday.

I haven’t found sleep in two weeks. I don’t dream of the experience, but sleep still somehow eludes me. Subconsciously, the whole experience has obviously affected me.

I have found one way to find some kind of healing: I had two tattoo’s done. One on the back of my neck and one on my wrist. The one on my back has some intricate fine-line scroll work with the word above it, “Sisu.” (it’s a very classy design). The other, (a tattoo on my wrist is) an Orobourous. It is the Cosmic Serpent, the Infinity symbol. It represents that after every ending or death is a beginning. Like a circle, life never ends.

At work, the principle, vice-principle and many teachers have been checking them out silently. I guess it passed with approval, as no one has approached me about it yet.

I am in the process of writing personal letters to the other five female members of my family that were with me and assisted my grandfather. I want them to know just how meaningful it was for not only me, but for all of us, that we were together for our dad/grandfather. I was incredibly proud that day to be female. To be a Finn. To be able to identify and utilize my own “Sisu.”

I am determined to pass this major spiritual test: I will not be afraid when my own time comes- death is only the beginning towards true liberation and freedom. For the remainder of my life-time, I intend on living my life to the fullest and learn to cultivate the art of dying. This, is what I consider to be true enlightenment.



  1. This is a beautiful, enlightening piece. Only eight months ago my children and I surrounded my husband as he took his last breath. With that act, death was absorbed, not only my husband’s death, but death itself. I sense I don’t have to explain it to you.

    ((hugs)) for you loss.

    Comment by anhinga — September 11, 2009 @ 20:33

  2. And in return Anhinga, I too reflect sympathies for your own families loss. Hugs back to you 🙂

    Comment by C'hele — September 12, 2009 @ 04:27

  3. my thoughts and warm wishes go out to you and your family michelle. i know sometimes the challenge to accept death is more difficult for those of us who are left behind. much love to you!

    Comment by Dulcie — September 13, 2009 @ 11:10

  4. Thanks so much Dulcie- I’m actually doing better now. Finally I’m getting more sleep, I’m guessing its due to being back to work and well, you know what the first month of school is like! Its nuts, lol. So, its been a blessing in disguise. One day at a time! I miss ya girlfriend, will be calling you soon. Hugs back to you 🙂

    Comment by C'hele — September 13, 2009 @ 20:38

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