My wife’s aunt (AM) is no longer gravely ill. She died this morning, just a couple of days past her 90th birthday. Joy took it pretty hard, since they were very close. I met AM more than 10 years ago, but got to know her better since we moved out here to the west coast in 2008. I really enjoyed her. She was very active until just a few months ago.
We went over to AM’s house, where she died, to lend support to Joy’s cousins. The funeral home had not yet picked up her body, so we had a chance to see her. I wasn’t feeling too emotional. My compartmentalizing was working pretty well, until I approached her body to pay my respects. I touched her on the forehead and experienced a wave of emotion. I can’t explain why I was gripped by feeling, or even what the feeling was. It was sadness, in a way, but much more than that. My feeling was disproportionate with my emotional connection with AM. As I mentioned, I enjoyed her; but I had no extended shared experiences with her. Of course I knew how important she was to Joy’s extended family, and I heard all the stories of the wonderful times everyone had together. I suppose after all, I did had shared experience with her albeit, by proxy.
AM’s children took very good care of her, and Joy and I visited frequently during the past couple of weeks. We knew very well that care taking exacts quite a toll on care takers and wanted to provide some relief. AM appreciated the company as well.
Although the pain of grief is just beginning for those who loved AM, she is no longer in pain. Everyone is grateful for that. We are all thankful that she had a good life.
The sketch below depicts the generation of an emotion (represented by the warm red color) from a cool source (blue). In the physical universe, a warm body generates heat (red). Here in pictorial space, the physics seems to be reversed: a cool body seems to generate a warm response (in this case the warmth of tears).