Monday Mourning: The Sudden Death of a Friend

Today on the blog I have Edie Mackenzie. Edie is a published author, traveler, dog lover, and tortoise enthusiast. Passionate about what she does, her books provide people a firm grounding in the dog breed and their unique characteristics with a nice touch of humor.

The dates, names and places have been changed due to an ongoing criminal investigation.

DW:  Who was the person who died?
EM:  Our friend Sarah was the victim of a hit and run driver.

DW:  How old were you at the time?
EM:  This happened in the spring of 2015 and I was 56 years old.

DW:  How old was the person?
EM:  Sarah was a youthful 52 years old. In 1998 my husband and Sarah worked at the same company. One day he came home and said I had to meet this cool woman he’d met at work. He said he knew we would be friends. He was right. We were friends for close to 20 years.

DW:  Was it a sudden death or did you know it was going to happen?
EM:  Both. Sarah was hit by a car while walking home after an evening with friends. The person who hit her never stopped. Never called police. Has not been caught. EMT’s took her to a trauma hospital, where they put her on life-support. (They did not have access to her DNR at the time. Only when they were able to locate her family were her wishes made known.) I got a call two days later telling me what had happened. My husband and I were devastated. 

The family informed me they were, in accordance with her written directives, taking her off life-support in a couple of days. I made arrangements to fly to Atlanta to say goodbye to her.

Friends and family came from all over the country. While all of this was so horrific, we found solace in sharing our Sarah stories. And there were many, many stories told! Sarah was a very social person with an adventurous spirit. She always had a trip on the horizon and dinner with friends on the calendar.

To have an opportunity to see her and say goodbye was wonderful. I spent two days, off and on, at the hospital. Her large group of friends and family took over part of the ICU waiting room and we all took turns going to her room to talk to her. We weren’t sure she could hear us, so maybe it was just for our benefit, but we each wanted her to know she was not alone and we loved her.

Then it was time. Again, in accordance with Sarah’s directives, surgical transplant teams prepped patients to receive her organs. Surrounded by family and a few close friends, Sarah was removed from life-support and left us. But she lives on in the lives she saved with her organ donation. And she lives on in the hearts of all of us who shared laughs, tears, adventures, and life with our beloved Sarah.

DW:  Had you experienced other deaths in your personal life before this person died?
EM:  Yes. I’ve had many people die during my life, some expected, some even hoped for so their pain would end. Others, so sudden it took my breath away.
However, Sarah’s death was the first time I’d had someone taken away by the actions of another person. Someone yet to be held accountable for killing my friend. And that makes her death so different from all the others. It makes it much harder to find closure and peace. It took much longer to extricate myself from the soul wrenching sadness which accompanies death.

DW:  Were people supportive of your grief or did they shy away from you when you were grieving?
EM:  Being an introvert, I shy away from people when I am grieving; my natural inclination is to curl into a protective cocoon. That said, those I did share Sarah’s death with were quite supportive.

DW:  Is there anything you wish you’d done differently with Sarah?
EM:  Yes and no. No, because when we talked and when we were together, we were our authentic selves. We had great conversations. We agreed to disagree. We laughed until our sides hurt at the stupidest of jokes. We went on adventures together. We ate fantastic food and drank amazing wine together. The best part was she was a dear friend of both myself and my husband, so all of the above was times three, not just two. And I am not alone in my sorrow; my husband’s heart also still aches for our friend.

The only thing I would do differently is to do more. More emails. More text. More phone calls. More adventures. And, most especially, many more evenings in the princess chairs, wearing our plastic tiaras while my husband and her special friend David poured us wine and created culinary masterpieces for us to enjoy. Much, much more of that.

DW:  Was Sarah buried or cremated?
EM:  According to her directives, she was cremated after her organs were donated.

DW:  Did you learn anything about the grieving process you’d like to share?
EM:  I’ve lived far from my family and friends for much of my adult life. When someone died, my husband was supportive, but since he didn’t know them as well, he did not grieve as I did. Sarah’s death was different in that we grieved together. We cried together. We still share our memories of her and laugh together. We are both still affected by our long enduring friendship with her and the tragedy of having her ripped away by a nameless, faceless person.

DW:  Were any songs played at the memorial service that were important to this person?
EM:  We were unable to attend the memorial service, but I can guarantee there were more than a few songs by Prince played. Sarah loved life and she loved Prince. I’m sure she greeted Prince and is dancing the cosmos with him. And he’s loving it. 

DW: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me on the blog. 

Question for my readers? Do you have an advance directive? If not, what are you waiting for? Here's the link to get one.