A Very Easy Death

I have discovered a whole new world of memoirs written by women about grief.

I’m reading Simone de Beauvoir’s short, intense, and harrowing memoir A Very Easy Death, where she recounts in vivid detail the few weeks from the moment her mother fell in the bathroom, breaking her hipbone, through her hospitalization and discovery of cancer, all the way to her painful death several weeks later. I am horrified at her mother’s suffering and pain in the days and weeks preceding her death. I am enraged at the way de Beauvoir is treated by the male doctors. The title of the memoir, A Very Easy Death, is deceiving, as de Beauvoir’s mother’s death was anything but easy. When I finish reading it, I am spent. I feel for de Beauvoir and her sister Poupette, who took turns staying with their mother, literally watching her wasting away. I put the book down, and my mind wanders back to my mom and her last two days. Hers could be literally called a very easy death; she did not suffer unbearable pain over an extended period of time, she was not hospitalized for weeks.  

She was alive, and then she was not.

Almost too easy.

Almost too simple.

Almost unimaginable.

I can’t say I feel relief, but there is some form of twisted solace in this, that she died – one could almost say – without any drama. Simply – her heart collapsed. She did not fight. It was a beautiful morning after a raging storm, and the sun was shining.

Her face looked peaceful, at ease, at rest. In fact, she looked as if she were sleeping, dreaming of something comforting.

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