“Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud noons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque,
They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time are visited.”
Philip Larkin, “Ambulances”
Twice in the last couple of weeks, an ambulance has visited our street. The first visit took away our neighbour. She had breathing issues. She was in the hospital for a week. We heard she was getting better; then came the news that she had died.
Last night, the ambulance came again. Three doors down. Middle of the night. Their front lawn lit up like a football pitch. We don’t know the score of that encounter.
This morning, when I opened the front door, my brother joked, asking if there was an ambulance waiting outside. No, I replied, not yet. Philip Larkin’s lines echo in my head: “They come to rest at any kerb: / All streets in time are visited.”
And, later that afternoon, as I’m writing this, my brother’s mother-in-law, who at 92 has been struggling to hold onto life in hospital ever since she too was taken to hospital in an ambulance, has made the decision to have a medically assisted death. It will take place tomorrow.
It’s been that kind of week. Not to mention the horrible tragedies unfolding in Israel and Gaza and in Afghanistan and Ukraine this week.
At times, death can be overwhelming, numbing even. And while it’s important to acknowledge the fear and pain — to give space for grief to unfold — grief can be mitigated in part by advance planning.
Having an end-of-life care plan in place can provide a family’s grief with the necessary space to unfold without crowding it out with concerns about practical and financial matters. Having your legal, financial, and funeral plans in place can alleviate the strain on your family and loved ones. Pre-arranging for the management of your assets — including your online and digital assets — can likewise save time and headaches.
So, the next time you hear the ‘nee-nah’ or see the flashing lights of an…