The new normal

by Tiffany Petti, HPCCR Marketing Specialist

Tiffany’s grandparents, Mary and Joe, along with their kids (l to r) Loretta (Tiffany’s mom), Diana, and Joey

I grew up in Long Island, New York, raised by a father of Irish descent and a mother of Italian heritage.  My childhood experiences crafted my idea of what is “normal”.  “Normal” was my mother’s entire side of the family living within a three-mile radius of us.  “Normal” was going to my Grandmother’s house almost every day.  Mom and Grandma would play Scrabble and drink tea while my sister and I sprawled out on the plastic-covered couches and watched television.  “Normal” was my 80-year-old grandfather, a retired bricklayer, climbing up on the roof of his two-story home to fix a gutter.  A “normal” Christmas Eve dinner began at 8pm and lasted until 2am.  We ate “The 7 Fishes” and there was always a break in between.  During that break we would have black coffee, nuts, and fennel to help digest so we could continue eating the rest of the meal.  That’s normal, isn’t it??

One thing that was NOT normal in my family was discussing death and dying.  So when my 72- year old grandmother went into the hospital for heart surgery and didn’t live through it, we were all left stunned, heartbroken, and not really knowing what to do.  My mother wasn’t able to grieve for her mother the proper way because she was forced to pull funeral arrangements together.  We had no idea what she would have wanted so my poor grandfather, in his emotionally raw state, spared no expense when it came to choosing the casket, the flowers, the cars, and all the other expensive options that were offered to him.  In his eyes, he was honoring his beloved wife by buying the best of everything.  In reality, she was a woman who grew up during The Great Depression, cut coupons, and sewed her own clothes – she would have killed him if she were alive!

I didn’t realize it then, but our family was actually very fortunate that she died so suddenly.  All we had to deal with were funeral arrangements.  I’ve heard too many stories of families having to decide if their loved ones should continue to live on life support or be taken off to die.  Who wants to be faced with that?  Filling out your advance directives lets you choose the way you want to do die, or not die, if you’re ever in that position.  Taking that tremendous decision away from your loved ones is the greatest gift you could give them.

Luckily, the new “normal” in my family is to discuss death and dying.  My husband and I have filled out our Living Wills and Healthcare Powers of Attorney and my parents have too.  When the time comes for grieving, instead of making choices that no one wants to make, we will be able to cry, hug, reminisce, and just love .  Now that’s normal.

Explore posts in the same categories: advance directives, awareness, education, end of life, hospice

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2 Comments on “The new normal”

  1. Anngie Williams Says:

    Thank you Tiffany for sharing that personal story. I am so moved, but the truth is plain to see. I agree the new normal is to talk about those dreaded subjects; death, dying and wishes concerning health care. I hope many will be inspired. You can even prearrange your funeral which is a blessing when you, the grieving family can honor the wishes the loved chose for themselves. I have shared this information with my husband and children. Although there is one draw back: my husband says if I pass before him, he is going to jump in the grave with me, but I begged him to please give me “Peace” for all eternity! We’ll see………. Anngie Williams

  2. Tiffany Says:

    I love you Anngie!! You’re so funny!

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