Monday, October 29, 2007


Our dear neighbor and friend Jinne died this morning. She has been on hospice for awhile, so it wasn't unexpected. The most difficult part has been watching her decline. When we moved into cohousing 2 years ago, Jinne was spry. Always going out to the theater, always traveling. When she started to get sicker, the doctors told her that she might live longer if she moved to sea level (there isn't as much oxygen up at our altitude). She chose not to leave. She loved cohousing.

When Jinne first started to decline, I helped her out a lot. I did much of her grocery shopping (an elderly, single woman doesn't require much!), washed and rolled her snowy white hair once a week, and made a few middle-of-the-night visits when she was having problems (like an itchy rash reaction to a medication). As she got worse, other neighbors took over and eventually she had an assistant during the day that did everything.

I wish I had the words to tell you how kind Jinne was. She loved to sit out on her porch and watch the children play. Even when she needed to be carried, she still would sit and watch. Or sometimes stand inside and watch. And Jinne always had the best Halloween treats. Last year she took a picture with every child that came to her door trick-or-treating. We are certainly going to miss her.
Edited to add: Help! Kate just asked me "Why did Jinne die?" and I didn't know what to say! (I should have been preparing for this...) Any advice? Any books you recommend?


Geggie said...

First, my prayers are with you and I'm truly sorr for your loss.

Second, yikes! I don't have kids, so I have no idea. But, I think I'd go with the philosophy of honesty. Jinne was very sick (not the kind of sick that Kate ever gets, much sicker) and she was very old (way older than mommy & daddy) and she had a very full and happy life, but her life here on earth was getting harder and harder and it was hard for her to be happy here so she went to...I don't know what your beliefs are, but I think you could insert just about anything here.

Good luck with that!

Marie Green said...

The Next Place by Warren Hansen is beautiful for all ages. (It's a picture book.) Also, if you go into a bookstore, they should be able to guide you to other books.

I would answer her questions honestly- and remember to answer simply what she is asking. "Her body was sick and got worn out" "She went to be in heaven and will watch over us now" etc.

So sorry to hear about your loss. Good luck!

Penny said...

I am sorry :(

I think I'd answer Kate's questions with something like "Sometimes our bodies get so worn out that they have to stop working. It's very sad for us, but Jinne can be happy now because she doesn't have any pain anymore." Obviously it depends if you want to talk about an afterlife etc but as a Christian I'd obviously insert something about heaven and happiness etc etc.

Stacy said...

We just got a book from the library called Lifetimes by Bryon Mellonie. We haven't had anyone close to us die, but my son was asking some questions so I thought I would see what's out there. This book was one of the simplest but also touching.

I agree with the other people who commented that to be honest and succinct, and to speak from your heart, is the best approach.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

i'm so sorry for your loss, kristen. she sounds like she was an amazing woman.

i would have been stumbling right there with you. ava has been asking us about death lately too and we really need to figure out how to handle it.


Emily the Great and Terrible said...

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie De Paola is one I recommend. I haven't read it for a while, but as I recall it about a little boy whose grandmother lives with him until she passes away.

I'm sorry about your friend, but glad she isn't suffering any more.