I loved the recent series of Call the Midwife on BBC based on the book by the same name by Jennifer Worth.
I’ve just read her final book, In the Midst of Life. It is, as you would imagine, about death and I have to say it is one of the most courageous and honest books I have ever read.
We are programmed to believe these days that death is somehow not part of life and needs to be avoided at all costs. Perhaps that is putting it too simply, but I think you probably understand what I mean.
When I was four, a neighbour saw me heading up the garden with my beach spade. He asked what I was doing and I said I was going to dig my dog, Zulu, up because my dad and grandad had buried him while he was asleep. He rushed round to alert my parents. Because of this, I have always been careful with my children and grandchildren to never use the words “Put to sleep” when explaining the death of a pet.
When my children lost pets – hamsters mainly, I always encouraged them to say goodbye, to gently stroke the little body before we had the burial. It really helped. There is something about the sight of death that is reassuring. You really can see that the life has gone and it is a much different state to sleep.
The first person I saw it in was my dad. He looked so different in death, so peaceful and regal. We went to the Chapel of Rest to see him and my mum held his hand and said that all the anguish and worry had gone from him and he was at peace. It was true.
To get back to the book, I can only say that reading it has been an exercise in reality and reassurance. I thoroughly recommend it. It is not like Jenny Worth’s other books, but it is a very good read.