My mother died on Friday after a two week battle with pneumonia. I was with her at the time and am feeling relieved that any suffering or discomfort is now over. I think she lived a good life, and she gave me an enormous amount that has served me well. Amongst those gifts are a sense of mischief with a good-humoured enjoyment of life; an intense intellectual curiosity; a love of the arts; and an enduring suspicion of social institutions and conventions. There's a lot more too, that will live on. Funnily enough there is a whole lexicon to describe the feelings, processes and events that surround death and being that sort, like my mother, my first port of call was the etymological dictionary! I found bereavement along with all those other lovely-sounding words that have the be- prefix. The Germanic origins of 'reave' seem to be about robbing, which implies a hidden (secret?) agent that neither I nor the deceased (another technical term) would be comfortable with. All this terminology seems to distance us from the actual events. A familiar story?