There are few things in life that compare to the suffering of those left behind by their elders who lived long lives and suffered long deaths. It is insensitive, I know, to think of the suffering on the part of the survivors when there was clearly so much more suffering on the part of those that have passed.

But, too often, the way in which we impart (often misguidedly) sympathy and pity to those who pass on, more than to those who must carry on in the wake of their passing, is non-helpful and leaves many invisible and, therefore, untended wounds that never fully heal.

It is not enough that the death of a loved one who suffered for years with a long and debilitating illness provides some modicum of closure; the pain and anguish and years of often-stifled sobs of the survivors echo throughout the rest of their lives. Worse, and far too often, they never fully recover from their self-imposed recriminations and second-guesses and misplaced guilt over what they might have or could have or should have done differently… in the clouds and the haze of the eventual death they convince themselves they could have prevented somehow… “if only” they had acted differently.