Simon Palmer’s blog

March 5, 2008

The Mundane and the Extraordinary

Filed under: personal — Tags: — simonpalmer @ 7:55 am

My Uncle’s story has another chapter. The bureaucracy of death insists that a reason is established before the family can lay him to rest. The implication of that is a coroner has to be involved and the reason established. This process occurred earlier this week and the stated reason was a heart disease. Eric’s family are understandably perplexed, as are the rest of us. Eric never suffered from, complained about nor took medication for his heart.

Two theories abound. First is that Eric was of the generation of men who just did not involve anyone else, even the medical profession, in their health care. They basically just got on with it quietly. I think my Dad falls very much into this category, it is almost impossible to get him to visit a doctor, even when he is plainly very sick. Second is that the cause was not really able to be established and like many – perhaps all – men of his age there was some amount of heart disease and it is a not unreasonable thing to blame. Either way Eric’s family are seeing the surgical team that carried out his operation to probe more deeply and hopefully satisfy themselves that he was not in some way treated negligently. Are there not pre-operative test that should establish how fit he is for surgery?

Meanwhile, amid the uncertainty, there are two significant benefits to this outcome. First is that the activity of organising a funeral can commence and second is that, if Eric did have an underlying illness, it somewhat eases the sense of responsibility and guilt the family feel for the part they perceive themselves as having played in causing his death by encouraging him in to have the operation. This is a very natural pattern of thought, if quite wrong.

So the extraordinary event of Eric’s sudden death is surrounded by mundane activity in processing the fact of it. This combination causes huge altitude shifts; it’s like living in a lift that stops only at the ground and the 145th floor, it makes your emotional ears pop.

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