As Life Ends
Hummm... so many thoughts run through this mind of mine since my Mother died.
The phone call I made as I a woke, was answered with "she is resting well" from the nurse on the morning schedule...so I decided to go ahead and shower and then go to her. Before I could get in the shower to cleanse myself the phone rang again. The same nurse said " I am sorry, your mom has died, I guess when I was in there she was gone." The caregiver found her and reported it to this same Nurse. So as I see it, the nurse (bless nurses though) went in, gave her the morphine they were administering every hour for pain. Without checking her blood pressure or pulse.
At first after she died I was nervous, then excited to get to her and dress her in a manner I knew she would like to be dressed...sounds strange I know but she did not look like the woman we, as her family knew for most of her life. I had previously picked out clothes, a wig and jewelry to bury her in.
I realize the morning shift can be hectic , but come on she was dying and everyone knew it. The late night shift was wonderful, as me, my daughter and niece spent hours there and saw how they were with mom. Maybe because we were there, she was better, I have no idea for sure.
They all made us feel special, feeding us and even made sure we could spend the nights, providing a bed, blankets and support.
So as I entered the office to this Alzheimer's Home with her clothes, the office staff met me with sad faces and hugs asking how I was ? My answer was "I am Numb" I said "Thank You" and rushed with the outfit to dress Mom. The sweet caregivers were instantly at my side.
It was very a very strange moment for me. Mom looked almost like she had for years, but very calm. Her mouth was open, though one of the caregivers tried to close it , but it was stuck.
As she and I went into the closet mom had to get a sweater to also put on her, the caregiver's hands were shaking, and she was very emotional. She and mom had made a personal attachment and this was as hard for her as it was for me.
There were two caregivers there to help me dress this limp, nonresponsive, dead body, and we had a hard time getting her fancy clothes on. It was the strangest feeling I have ever encountered to this point in my life. As we dressed her though I knew she was happy, and she wanted to once again look dressed up. When we were done, I asked "can we put lipstick on? What can we put in her hands?" The caregiver picked up a cross that was always at mom's bedside and so gently placed it in her hands, I began to cry,silently.
At this point, mom looked beautiful, the way she always appeared in my eyes, I took a photo of her with the caregiver, who had gently taken care of her for so long.
The look of pain, sorrow, discomfort, the lack of ability to be able to communicate…was all gone. Mom looked so content and at Peace, I just felt happy for her.
This is hard to write for me right now, but it seems to be necessary, grieving takes on many forms, and I just feel each one needs to go with whatever flow Death takes you on. Don't ignore it, don't forget it and don't let it ruin your life. It is the "Circle of Life", and each of us will complete this "Circle" eventually. I have to say though that being prepared, understanding how the body shuts down and talking about death is a must.
Hospice was one of the greatest experiences both mom and I had during her leaving us. A harpist was available through this wonderful organization and I used the availability of it for as long as was possible. In the beginning when Mom was first put on Hospice. I was told that they could come massage her once a week. I was delighted to hear this because mom loved her massages. Gentle soft caressing massages were administered for around 5 months. Also a Harpist came once a week and played for Mom, an hour long session, which mom totally was relaxed as well as me. Many residents were also around to enjoy this soothing music, which I was so happy to share. So many elderly suffer alone and it was enlightening to see them gather at Mom’s door to listen for “The Moments” that they would stay. We love in the Moment, we live in the moment and we die in the moment.
As death, (the body shutting down), progressed, another Harpist was present. This wonderful, soft spoken, in tune with life and death soul came to play for Mom as she was preparing to go Home. This woman was incredible, played like an angel, sang like an angel and was able to tune out any sounds that might not fit into the moments we were experiencing. She relaxed me, my niece, as well as my daughter. I know from my heart and soul Mom was happy.
In the final moments before Mom took her final breath, the Harpist was there, as she strung an angelical chord on the harp. I am sure Mom’s soul left her body. It was a moment that is so difficult to explain, but I felt her leaving and ran to the nurse yelling…..
“ Come, come something isn’t right” The Nurse came running with me and then she told me this gurgle sound is normal and may get worse, which can be frightening when you first hear it. Well Mom gurgled one more time and the Harpist asked if I wanted to sing a Prayer for Mom…my answer was “I am afraid my singing would scare the Angels away, but please you sing”. Her voice was like an Angel’s and I sat there weeping, saying goodbye to my Mother.
Now I am aware that the body takes time to die, but at this moment I do believe Mom’s soul left and she was walking towards those pearly gates, and how happy I was for her. She would finally be with her Mother, that she missed her whole life because she died when Mom was only six years old.
Moms next to the youngest daughter, dying from breast cancer at a very young age, leaving four young children without their mom, and her beloved husband of over 50+ years…and I am sure they were all waiting for her. I know she is where she most wanted to be, with “Our Lord, and God”.
So after six years of caring for Mom, learning the whole time; I was Happy for her. I still am, though I have my sad days, my crying days, my angry days, my feeling sorry for ME days, and my Dreams.
Memories that no one can ever erase or take away from my mind, I am at Peace with her passing. My only regret is I wish I was as strong and pure as she was, something I would hope to pass on to my children, but can I be sure I did???