Great Aunt Betty had died. Though not her real name, Betty was the second most popular name for girls born in the United States in 1929. Just over ninety, Betty had lived the proverbial long, good life. Her thirty-something great nephew was listed in the hospice medical charts as the “primary caregiver” and “HCPOA” (health care power of attorney).
I called him a few weeks after his great aunt’s death to see how he was doing.
Fine, he said.
And then he told the truth. He felt lousy. Unsettled. He was also trying to ignore those feelings. He hadn’t cried yet (which bothered him), was tackling the estate business after her death, and was trying to balance his usual schedule of kids-and-work.
Aunt Betty’s death was a huge blow, but he didn’t have time to grieve.
This is what I learned* from the sparse notes in Betty’s chart and through my conversation with him: he was a busy guy. His wife was teaching elementary school while attending classes to get her master’s degree in administration. He taught at a community college and his more flexible schedule allowed him more time to care for their two kids.
What about Betty?
Was she merely a deceased great great aunt? Read More →by