Two mothers and two daughters go shoe shopping….

Two mothers and two daughters go shoe shopping

They each bought shoes and come home with three pairs. How can this be?
If you haven’t heard it or figured it out: a mother her daughter and her daughter’s daughter aka granddaughter. Two mothers: two daughters. (In the male version: two fathers and two sons went fishing.)

Generations brought together

This is the make-up of many a family: three different generations interested in and often involved in the same situation or issue. Such was the case during an impromptu chat about why it’s so hard to talk about dying and death.

Culture and Tradition; Patterns and Sensitivities

My friends, a group of multi cultural mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, were intrigued and engaged, and revealed differences based on upbringing, traditions and patterns.

Ruth, Anglican, debated with her Hindu husband, Sudhir, which Religion offered more comfort at life’s end, and anxieties about what may lie beyond.

Majid, from Iran and Gina, Mexican-Catholic, don’t have children but do have parents.
Majid’s parents are in good health, and so he was shocked to learn his father had bought and paid for plots. Living across the world from eachother as they do, Majid is gathering up courage to open conversations about end of life medical wishes – possibly via Skype.

Gina’s mother – her surviving parent – has diabetes and smokes (I can just hear the reactions: empathy or indignation ;) In Mexico, “Day of the Dead” is an annual celebration of ancestors reinforces that death is a part of the circle of life. Says Gina
”I don’t have a problem talking about dying.”

Some emotions are expected, others not so much

Colleen is a daughter and a mother. Her father has end stage cancer and diabetes. Mother, father, daughter and granddaughter talk openly and often -with shots of humor -about his declining health.

Colleen said this friendly banter has caught more than one health care professional off-guard, and their 10-year old may not take it as much in stride as the ‘adults’.

Same religion, different culture

Mike is Irish-Catholic – a whole different religious culture than Mexico. He’s both a father and a son. It’s gut-wrenchingly impossible to talk to his parents about end of life wishes.

Although his brother died too young of a heart attack, and his father has many risk factors, Mike doesn’t want to risk upsetting his father: “My father would think it rude and get offended: am I worried about an inheritance? Do I know something about his health that he doesn’t?”

There’s many a barrier to talking about dying and death, but it seems counter-productive in face of that irrefutable statistic – possibly the only one that can’t be manipulated: What percentage of us are going to die? 100% How would you open the discussion?

In 2008, Kathy Kastner launched for adult children caring for aging parents. Her journey, and the resources curated along the way, is called (for those who want to talk about the end of life, and those who don’t).

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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