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Soul mates with limited suffering

With limited experience with death, I witnessed death of two soul mates.

Photo of Tony Threatt
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  • I don't have much experience with death and until 2 years ago I still had all of my grandparents.  This experience is completely different than my wife who has a large extended family and attended a funeral every year since middle school. However, two years ago my wife's grandmother passed away and that experience changed my perspective about dying.

It was a Friday morning and Mimi had a hard time breathing. She called an ambulance, was admired, and never left the ICU - passing away the following Monday. It was quick and with limited suffering even though it was in an ICU with tubes and incessant noises. All things considered - I would hope that when its my time I am able to pass as quickly as Mimi did. But what's interesting about this story isn't Mimi's dying experience alone. Down the hall Mimi's best friend and sister in-law, Bobbie - affectionately called BaaBaa, was dying at the same time.

Baabaa was admitted earlier in the week and it was thought to help her get better but once Mimi was admitted it became obvious that the hospital staff was there to make her comfortable- not help her to get well.

It was around lunch time on Monday and BaaBaa passed away. Mimi would have passed away within minutes of BaaBaa but my wife was breast feeding our youngest child at the time and it was time to feed him. Two hours after BaaBaa passed away so did Mimi. Family, best friends, and soul mates - not to be in this world without one another.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Limited suffering and the power of soul mates not wanting to be in the world without one another. HMW design a more full family experience with death?

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Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Tony, thank you for your post. We'd love it if you might find an image to go along with this great story. Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

Photo of John McGeehan

@threatt13 Thank you for sharing this quietly beautiful story of two intertwined dying passages. It echoes experiences I've had with people 'choosing' to die at a particular day and time contingent on others close to them. It's also notable that you had a good experience in the hospital - which can often be an alienating and impersonal environment. 
Was BaaBaa under palliative care? You said the staff was there to "make her feel comfortable", a hallmark of Palliative care once the focus shifts from 'saving', 'healing' or 'fighting' to enhancing the quality of time remaining. It's also notable because it takes a more holistic view of a person, including emotional and spiritual sides and working in a cross-functional team. For those who must end their days in a hospital setting, the palliative and hospice approaches often allow families and friends 24 hour access and provide other services and accommodations.

Photo of Tony Threatt

John - thanks for the comment. BaaBaa was under the care of hospice which was very great for her care. The holistic approach is very important to me when thinking through end of life experiences. What was most impressive to me is that they both wanted to go together - even though they were not aware of the others state.