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to think the loss of my mum at 85 was tragic

(133 Posts)
highho1 Sun 12-Jan-14 23:22:56

Sorry this is a bit of a thread about a thread but it has got to me.
My mum died following a fall at 85. She may have only has a few more years left if she hadn't had the fall.
But at least than she would have possibly met her final grandchild. (My 3rd dd)
Aibu to think the loss of a older person can still be tragic.

PowerPants Wed 15-Jan-14 22:58:57

Samu2 - am so sorry. I agree with you.

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Wed 15-Jan-14 22:51:03

My gran was 91 when she died. She was fit, active, fully compos mentis and a vibrant and interesting lady. She went on the bus to the shops and sat down in the bus stop on the way back and the seat had been vandalised and it dumped her on the ground breaking her hip which hastily led to her death. I felt that was tragic. I wanted to pound the face of the person that sawed the seat in two. If you felt it was tragic, it was.

Caitlin17 Wed 15-Jan-14 22:45:24

Fancyashandy and notgoodnotbad I agree. It's semantics I suppose but "tragic" to me means something which is more universally objective. It doesn't diminish the personal grief of the bereaved, but the word doesn't feel right. I wouldn't describe my beloved grandfather's death at 85 as tragic , it doesn't mean I didn't love him and miss him.

Fancyashandy Wed 15-Jan-14 22:34:34

In your view it is a tragedy, you don't speak for everyone. I prefer not to use that terminology to describe the death of my mum. It was bad enough, i known how bad it was. I choose not to make it more dramatic than it was. It makes it sound like I think my experience and grief was bigger and worse than other peoples.

nf1morethanjustlumpsandbumps Wed 15-Jan-14 13:00:11

Death of a parent at whatever age is a tragedy to THAT family. So sorry for your loss it's been 20 years since I lost my father, his loss was not a tragedy to the rest of the world but was and always will be to me for everything I lost.

NotGoodNotBad Wed 15-Jan-14 12:32:31

OP, I'm sorry for your loss, and it's obviously devastating for you - for that reason I was reluctant to reply, but I really don't think you can call it 'tragic'.

Stillbirths; deaths of children; parents who leave behind small children; long, painful deaths at any age; war; starvation; displacement; torture; lives lived with severe physical or emotional trauma; old people dying alone and not being found for 3 months ...

I might call these things tragic, but not the sudden death of an 85-year old.

highho1 Wed 15-Jan-14 12:11:03

It is weird. I lost my dad several years earlier at aged 70. He was ill for a long time and quite frankly had had enough of life. So in the scheme of things his loss should have been more tragic as he never saw me get married or to see my children. However, as he was ready to go and we had time to prepare it seemed easier.
My mum on the other hand still loved life and was really afraid to die. The death was sudden and we never really had a chance to say goodbye. I had a 200 mile drive in the night to see her on life support and than watch them turn life support off.
Even the loss of my sister in her 50's didn't have such an impact.
Although obviously I do get that the loss of a child or person with young dependents is more tragic on both a personal and global level.

highho1 Tue 14-Jan-14 17:49:16

Sorry not been on for a few days. Not had a chance to read responses but thank you and sorry to others experiencing the loss of a loved one. X

Beachcombergirl Mon 13-Jan-14 19:32:19

Sending hugs and condolences. My Dad died following a horrible illness in his late 70's 2 years ago and My darling Mum died very suddenly in her early 70's last year when my dd was 3 months old. I'm currently pregnant again as terribly sad they will never meet the new baby. I hate it when people say they got to a good age. It is irrelevant in the wake of your loss. Take your time to grieve and cry when you need to. Look after yourself. Xxx

eggsandwich Mon 13-Jan-14 19:23:06

I totally understand where your coming from, my mum died at 55 and missed my wedding and the birth of both my children, and my father also died 9 months before my wedding so couldn't give me away, life sucks some times feel really sad for my children not knowing their other grandparents.

Slubberdegullion Mon 13-Jan-14 19:20:53

Nice to see you too everlong (and Mintyy). And yes of course, your personal feelings about the use of the word are entirely understandable. Grief is so subjective and so personal the reactions we have to it, and the language we use to express it can often cause surprise, displeasure and yes even anger in other people.
I think that partly comes down to death becoming more and more hidden in our culture, despite it affecting everyone at some point in their lives. So few people die at home now, it has become such a medicalised event that once would have been owned by not just the family of the dying person but also by their community. People are often literally at a loss for words as to what to say when they meet someone who is either dying themselves, living with someone who is dying, or who is bereaved. It's like we've lost the craft of how to live with death. So people use words or phrases that feel like the best fit, for what often is indescribable, but might sound and feel trite or crass for someone else who has an altogether different experience of grief.
I also think, and well actually know from experience, that people often drip feed for want of a better word their experience of grief. They are testing the waters to see if the person they are talking to will listen and be sympathetic. I think it's actually pretty brave of the OP, and everyone else who has shared their stories on this thread to open up on an Internet forum and in AIBU to boot. You make yourself vulnerable talking about grief and often people might start small with "it's a tragedy" to see how others respond to that. There might often be quite a lot more to the story behind that statement that after listening completely validates their sentiment that a particular death is tragic. Again I personally do not believe you can draw a line in the sand and say 'over this age, a death isn't tragic'. We as a society start getting into dangerous waters surrounding the issues of care for our elderly and access to (heavily rationed) palliative care services.

lljkk Mon 13-Jan-14 19:16:37

Tragedy is not just when, but how.
This is not a comment about OP's situation or how she should feel.

Only I wanted to say that I am relieved that my mother died suddenly (heart attack age 63). She should have had a longer innings, I didn't get to say goodbye, I wish we could have had a better relationship. BUT she was terrified of a long drawn out illness leading to death, especially cancer. In many ways she had a good death, with only brief pain & fear. I'm grateful for that. Was anything but a tragedy.

WhenWhyWhere Mon 13-Jan-14 18:42:29

The Oxford English Dictionary gives a different definition, one that is more in line with what I believe it means.

noun (plural tragedies)
1 an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe:
a tragedy that killed 95 people
[mass noun]:
his life had been plagued by tragedy

It goes on to give the definition of a tragedy - a play with tragic events

amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 13-Jan-14 18:32:32

I personally would not call the death of an 85 year old tragic . It is said but inevitable, we are not meant to live for ever. THe death of a child before its parent is tragic.

AnnabelleLee Mon 13-Jan-14 18:30:07

Its not a word I would use, but its up to you what you want to call it.
Since your mother was 35 years older than mine was at their deaths, I would personally consider her to have had a long life, and everyone dies, its just a matter of when.

Mintyy Mon 13-Jan-14 18:27:44

Very moving post NotGoingOut flowers. I am not much younger than your mum ... it must be so very hard for you all.

Meanwhile, my mother is 82 and getting older and frailer in herself all the time. Her older brother is 87 and in poor health. Her friends and relatives are becoming ill and dying and I don't think she is enjoying her old age sad right now. But she does keep reiterating that they have all been lucky to live so long (especially as they all smoked heavily for 50 years or so) and she counts her blessings.

Death in old age is sad but unavoidable, tbh.

sykadelic15 Mon 13-Jan-14 18:27:14

Again, the definition of tragic is: "causing or characterized by extreme distress or sorrow."

If the OP or anyone else feels "extreme distress or sorrow" then it IS the very definition of tragic to them. What you or I think is irrelevant. They feel how they feel.

everlong Mon 13-Jan-14 18:26:11

Yes you're right slubber ( nice to see you btw ) that each person who has lost someone they love has the right to use whatever way like to express how they feel.

It doesn't alter the way other people feel about such expression though.

As I said on this thread or it could have been the other one that having lost a mother when I was 4 and a child when he was 20 I have become slightly hardened to people who have lost an elderly relative. I know this isn't right and I that I don't have the monopoly on grief but it's how I feel.

NotGoingOut17 Mon 13-Jan-14 18:17:47

I think it's very sad and obviously there is a huge sense of loss but I don't think it's tragic. My perspective is in the last 6 months my own Mum has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer at age 56 - this came like a bolt from the blue, she hasn't been suffering with it from some time, simply had displayed some symptoms (initially thought to be minor) and after much investigation was told it was a rare form of cancer and that it can't be treated other than through palliative care. We don't think she has much longer than a year left although it's any body's guess and she is doing okay for the time being, every day is a blessing, and every milestone is an achievement - and she'll make her 57th birthday which last summer I didn't think she would.

It's all relative in that I wouldn't say my Mum's impending early death is tragic; in some ways I am grateful for the time we have had together (I'm late 20s) but I also feel a huge sense of unfairness in that she will never see me get married and never meet my children and despite working all her life and only recently retired will never get to enjoy her retirement and has spent (what little time she has had of it) in and out of hospital. As i don't have any children myself I think it is something I feel quite deeply because she is still my immediate family (although I moved out of the family home in my early 20s), there is no one more important to me than my parents as i don't have a spouse (although have a boyfriend of 18 months) or children. I also feel that this will be a life changing event for me, I can't see it not having an impact on how I live my life and it has all consumed my last few months - this may have been different had she lived well into her 80s and I was older when she passed. Somewhat obsessively I have worked out that I only need to live to 58 myself (which I hope I do) and my Mum has been in less than half my life which is something I find hard to deal with - how someone who has been there for me my entire life will just disappear and how if I live a long life myself I could spend 50 years without them and I worry that i'll forget her (I know i won't but have thought it in my darkest moments).

I think it's particularly hard because I feel like i am all alone in that people don't expect to lose parents when they are in their 20s so with one exception none of my friends can relate to me.

I don't want to diminish anyone's grief, grief is terrible regardless of someone's age and I dont believe the loss is any less but my overall feeling is that if someone dies at 82 there must be more blessings than there are things you feel cheated out of whereas if someone dies at 30 it's probably the reverse. I recognise that my situation is somewhere in the middle, and i try and focus on the blessings and the times we did have but sometimes the times we won't will win over my thoughts.

The one friend who knows my situation has lost both their parents within 5 years of each other - both in their 50s/early 60s and they have parentless at age 28. To them I feel lucky that I have one healthy parent and one with whom I hope to spend loving as much as possible but as much as I don't mean to offend I can't help but think that if my Mum lived to 82 I would feel so lucky. I know death of loved ones always come too soon but it would buy us another 26 years - which for now, feels like a very very long time (infact almost twice as long I have lived).

I do wish you all the best though, your Mum is your Mum and death is never easy.

Bootycall Mon 13-Jan-14 18:03:41

Samu2 so very sorry for you all.

Mintyy Mon 13-Jan-14 17:13:38

I am not a hard or unfeeling person in any way, but I am quite pedantic and I do think "tragic" is the wrong word to apply to the death of a person aged 85. In general, I would argue that there are better words to use but, as Slubber says so eloquently, you are entitled to use whatever language you like regarding the death of a loved one.

SamU2 Mon 13-Jan-14 17:09:12

If you think it is tragic then it is to you. Although I personally wouldn't describe it as such.

My ex husband died at aged 39 (4 weeks ago)leaving three of my children behind and that is tragic. Tragic for my three children and his parents.

People may not find it tragic as he died after a 4 year battle of cancer, but my children find it tragic.

I think someone dying at 85 is very lucky, they lead a long life and we all have to die sometime.

I am sorry for your loss.

Slubberdegullion Mon 13-Jan-14 17:08:15

I agree with you everlong. It is the natural order of things. Knowing your father, mother, grandparent had a full life does I'm sure make the grieving process easier, for some.
However for some, the circumstances surrounding even a very elderly person's death may be tragic. Likewise for some people, like the OP the loss of someone they love may be perceived a tragedy. For them using the word tragedy is a means of conveying the strength of their emotions. It might not be the right word for you, but for them it is. I think when people talk about death and grief it's OK for them to be able to choose the language that they think describes best how they are feeling.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 13-Jan-14 17:03:58

It is hard though

Bloody human condition. sad

Hulababy Mon 13-Jan-14 17:02:58

- an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe
- very sad; especially involving grief or death or destruction
- dreadful, calamitous, disastrous, or fatal

It isn't a competition.
If someones death causes you suffering, upset and distress then yes, it is tragic for you and those involved.
But then as most of my family appear to have naturally longer lives than might be avergae - all grandparents well into 80s now - then a death in late 70s or 80s would seem very premature for our family.

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