Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Surviving Death

It has been a long time since I blogged so I decided I would write today.  I have one thing on my mind this morning...my mom.  I posted previously about her rough patch last year with congestive heart failure and open heart surgery.  We almost lost her but she pulled through.  This year the story is a little different.

My brother and family from Vermont surprised us with a visit on July 1 of this year and we all expected it to be a great couple weeks.  Well, that is not how it happened.  His second day here was spent taking Mom to the hospital.  She was admitted with CHF.  She was released after a couple days for one day and back in hospital on July 4.  She was released to nursing home and then back to hospital.  After a couple weeks in the hospital they decided there was nothing that could be done so they released her back to the nursing home under Hospice care.  On August 8, my mother took her last breath.

Now, the story is much more than this.  She had good days and bad days but toward the end it was mostly bad.  Her mind was failing and she talked out of her head a lot.  Her heart was weak, she wasn't eating, and she was in so much pain that toward the end she was being given morphine every 45 minutes to an hour.  We couldn't figure out why she was holding on.

Someone sat with her 24 hours a day for the last couple weeks, we didn't feel she should be alone.  When it was my turn I would sit in the chair or bed reading and then I would find myself praying for release.  "Just give up," I would tell her.  "Lord, take her home, she is in pain."  I was actually praying for my mother's death.  Not because I wanted her to die, but because I wanted her suffering to stop.  I couldn't help but wonder why she wouldn't let go.  I have a theory.

For two weeks, we sat with her and watched her fade away.  We would sulk and tell her to get better.  Although she was not awake because of the morphine, I believe she sensed our tears and sadness.  I think she was holding on for us.  I believe that deep down, she wanted to know we would be okay without her.

On August 8, the Hospice nurse told us, "I don't think she will make it through the day."  I had already said my goodbye and was awaiting  the inevitable.  That day, there were 3 of my siblings, my sister in law, and me there.  We were cutting up, talking about our memories of Mom, laughing, and picking on each other.  We were actually having fun.  This went on for a couple of hours until my oldest sister said, "guys."  We went to my mother's bedside and my sister in law got the nurse.  She pronounced my mother had passed.  There were many tears and hugs and emotions that cannot be described in words.

I could be way off but I truly believe that even in my mother's weakened and drugged state that she was still looking out for her children.  She could not leave us until she knew we were okay.  I believe that hearing our laughter helped her make the transition to death.  I will never know for sure but that is what I choose to believe.

The pain of losing a parent is great.  However, the pain of seeing them suffer is greater.  As I write this, through tears in my eyes, I am thinking what a great life she had.  80 years is nothing to be sad about.  She raised 6 children and enjoyed them and her numerous grandchildren.  We will always miss her and I know that tears will come and go but we will be okay because, at the risk of sounding cliche, she is in better place now.

I am grateful for the time I had with my mom and my advice is to enjoy your parents while they are here.  Love them and treat well.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this moment. Your mother was a great woman.