Learning To Expect Death

Saoire O' Brien
4 min readAug 22, 2021

This week I mourned my granny's future passing. A strange sentence I grant you. But an experience I believe many of us are having, at this moment in history.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Death, our inevitable ending, something which we are all destined to experience, but rarely speak about till we face the loss of a loved one, and become wrapped in grief.

This week, due to a long string of events, I mourned my granny's future passing, triggered and consumed by the fear that I won’t have the chance to see her face to face again.

My whole family lives abroad, in Greece, I’m on the other end of Europe, the small wee Emeralds Isle of Ireland. The last time I was in Greece, was the September before the pandemic hit in 2019. I haven’t been able to visit them since. As restrictions eased this summer and international travel has been allowed since mid July, I felt it was my chance to finally buy an airplane ticket. This time I was going to go alone, and all I wanted to do was spend a solid week sitting with my granny, just sitting, and eating and chatting. I picked my dates so that it would coincide with the National Holiday of Mary, a day that myself, my mother and my granny celebrate as our name day. The 3 generations together, it had a symbolic significance to me, I was childlike in my excitement and anticipation.

As the week of my flight approached, once more, my perception of what the future heald, crumbled!

Greece was on fire! Day by day and hour by hour my anxiety grew…everyone’s did.

I would see photo’s on my friends timelines and news clips of what looked like the apocalypse. I heard stories from the people on the ground, of how electricity and water were coming and going for hours at a time. How it was so hot, they could barely move, or think, or even breathe. How black ashes were landing on the balconies and the air was toxic. Every day, sometimes twice, I talked on the phone with my parents. Conditions were getting difficult and to add to it the heatwave was intense, temperatures in the 40’s and higher.

My family could see the fires on the top of the mountains 15–20km away, I could hear the exhaustion and worry in their voices. It was decided to evacuate my granny, who is now 87. She went to stay in a friends house on a very close-by island, on the other…

Saoire O' Brien