Together, in Life and Death

at 10:43 PM
Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 5 years old.

Much will be written and analyzed about the death of Carrie Fisher and the subsequent death of her mother, Debbie Reynolds less than 24 hours later.

As an old hospice nurse, it didn't shock me. However, I don't subscribe to the medicalized version of events called "broken heart syndrome" or something akin to untreated depression or anxiety as a cause.

What I've learned is there is a lot going on around us that we cannot see, or understand. Life is fragile, precious and spiritual. Our connections to each other are fragile, precious and spiritual. We meet in life as bodies, we leave as spirits.

At hospice we occasionally experienced a death like this one. It made a profound impact and put us into an intimate altered space. It made us stop to respect and try to feel the unseen.

I recall twin sisters. One twin was ill with cancer. The other was healthy, and she was the caregiver. They had been with us for a month or so. The caregiving sister called me distraught one morning - "I think my sister is dead!" I left the office immediately. When I arrived - both sisters were deceased. On my way across town, the caregiving sister sat down in the chair she kept by her ill sister's bed, and simply died. The most important job in her life was complete, and her best friend and closest person had left.


Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds remind me of the deep connections that are possible with each other. Reportedly they were estranged off and on through life - who isn't!? But they worked it out so that the love they felt for each other was their focus in recent years.

It's reported that Debbie Reynolds was at the bedside of her daughter when she died. I don't know if they identified as Christian or Jewish or something else. I do know we need the lessons these two remarkable women are leaving us to ponder. Don't ask too much, be willing to overlook shortcomings, to forgive, and wherever we go, we must go together.

With a Perspective, this is Marcy Fraser.

Marcy Fraser is a nurse living in San Francisco.