A Talk with My Grandmother

On the drive home from the farmer's market, I had a touching conversation with Grandma

She's known about my interest in sustainable end of life design, and today she put me in charge of designing how we mourn her death, treat her body, and remember her, when the time comes. 

"I don't really care what you do with my body, throw me in the ocean, throw me in the toilet. I do prefer ocean, though."

We discussed options for treating bodies and why some are sustainable and some aren't, and why the sustainable ones aren't being used (see my other post about this). I talked to her about mushroom burial shrouds and she talked to me about resomation. Can you believe it? My Chinese immigrant grandma knows about resomation. Spell-check doesn't even know about resomation.  

She volunteered to be the first person I design an end of life experience for. As I choked back a couple tears, I felt so incredibly lucky and grateful for the love and open-mindedness that let this happen.

My grandma turns 81 this March. Her sense of humor is still a daily delight, though definitely an acquired taste (I’ve acquired it). You can always depend on a brutally honest, raw, pragmatic perspective from her. I think that's the reason why the conversation wasn't difficult or dreadful, we could've been talking about what we’re having for dinner. Something about my grandma made that conversation effortless, and the topic of death easy to bring up again. I feel comfortable discussing not only death, but her death at any given time. This dynamic made me grateful, but it also made me wonder how to make it ubiquitous.  

Anyway, the other day, I gave her one of the worry stones I made. Her sister died a month ago, the first sibling she's lost. To help her mourn, I explained that she can keep the stone in her pocket, and rub the surface of the stone whenever her sister comes to mind. I explained that when she passes, the same stone that offered her comfort can be passed down to my mom with the same purpose, but a deeper meaning. She liked the idea of comforting my mom with the same object she found comfort in.  This may have been the first step in helping her plan her end of life experience, I’m excited and grateful for the next. My grandma gifted me an invaluable opportunity.