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Death of Parent who is Older

Updated on March 28, 2009

The death of a parent who is older is not any easier to deal with than a parent who is cut down when they are younger. As a matter of fact, the death of an older parent can sometimes be more challanging because you share that many more memories together. This, in no way minimizes the tragic death of a younger parent or of a parent who has suffered a long illness, because losing a parent is always difficult.

This past November, I lost my mother who was in her 80's. She was always a very high energy and high spirited individual, who loved to visit friends and relatives. She loved to travel. go out to dinner, go to the movies and always found time to exercise in the neighborhood gym. She was an extremely independent woman who was a leader among her peers.It was this independence and strong-willed, choleric personality that eventually contributed to her death.

My father died over 30 years ago and left my mother by herself, to support three school aged children. My father was a veteran of WWII, and had been an airplane mechanic for 20 years, when cancer took his life. My mom was left with no pension and a minimal amount of benefits from my dad, due to situations beyond her control. Yet she raised three children singlehandedly, while going back to work as a full charged bookeeper. She would not allow circumstances to ever defeat her, and one of her favorite sayings was: "God never gives us anything we can't handle". She repeated this phrase several days before she died.

About 12 years ago my mom was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which caused her white blood cell count to multiply and mutate. Over these past 12 years she handled the disease very well and never complained about any pain. She only complained about doctors who insisted on treating her with an over abundance of medication and chemotherapy. She insisted that there was no need to take everything they gave her. Most recently she was diagnosed with another illness, that my brothers and I were not aware of. It was this illness that she refused to admit she had, which eventually ended her life. It was Congestive Heart Failure..

Last November, she mentioned that she was not sleeping well and experiencing stomach cramps. She thought that this was a complication of her GERD (Gastro esophogal reflux disease). She was also experiencing nose bleeds and heart palpitations and decided to call an ambulance to check into a hospital and find out what was wrong. Because my mom didn't like hospitals or trust doctors, I knew that the situation was serious. True to form, when the ambulance drivers arrived, my mom started to argue with them about driving her to a particular hospital. She won the argument. They brought her to a very good cancer and heart hospital in the NY metropolitan area called Winthrop University hospital.

When my mom checked into the hospital, her doctor put her on intravenous diuretics, because her legs had swollen, and her kidneys were failing. However, when she found out that she was on diuretics she insisted on removing them. When I visited her, to my shock, her doctor told her something that haunts me to this day. He said that she must stay on the diuretics because, her kidneys were failing and she has heart failure, both of which will kill her. My mom was frightened by the doctors diagnosis, but brushed it off as, just another doctor who didn't know what he was talking about. She mentioned that in another situation many years ago, diuretics were prescribed to her for high blood pressure, and she had a bad reaction to them. She asked the doctor if he could assure her that these diuretics would cure her situation. He could not give this assurance, and I did not have the power legally to force her to take these diuretics. The doctor had one last hand to play, to try and save my mom. He sent in a psychiatrist to confirm that my mom was making sound decisions. If they concluded that the decisions were made due to the coronary condition, the diuretics would have been started again. It was agreed that she was of sound mind, and the illness was not affecting her thought process. After the doctors visit, mom insisted that she could not sleep in the hospital anymore and wanted to go home, concluding that she would be more comfortable there. The doctors, feeling they had no other alternative agreed with this decision. The next day, while preparing to go home my mom suffered a severe cardiac arhythmia, and arrest. She was moved to a telemetry unit with a machine that was shocking her heart, to keep it going. I knew that this was not what my mom wanted, so we removed her from the machine, and she died several hours later.

My mother was a strong willed woman, who lived the way that she wanted to, up until the end. As difficult as she was to deal with at times, I loved my mom. She was always a good parent, and always there for us, and I will miss her. The death of an older parent can be painful, but it teaches you to remember good experiences that you lived while growing up, rather than relive the difficult memories..


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    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Ralwus, Thank you for your thoughts

      Thank You, Rossimobus. This article was a small way to gain some closure from my mom's death

    • Rossimobis profile image

      Chibuzo Melvin Mobis 

      8 years ago from Nigeria

      I have been there...great piece! nice article! sweet hub.

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Thank You Mrs Obvious for your comments. This hub has helped me cope with the loss of my mom. While your parents are alive you should enjoy your experiences with them, and you will never feel regrets and the sorrow will be minimal.

    • Mrs. Obvious profile image

      Willow Mattox 

      9 years ago from Northern California

      I am terrified of losing my parents. They are only 65 and I am 31, but it would be emotionally devastating to me. Thank you for such a real and touching hub. It helps me to think about this life event now so I can plan how to deal with the loss when it becomes our turn.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I am so sorry for your loss. I miss mine, she has been gone now for 12 years. They seem to know when it is time and she probably was wanting to die at home among her family and loved ones and not in hospital. I have had 3 heart failures and came close myself, it is not a pleasant way to leave, but at least it can be quick. Bless you. CC

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Rose That's a very inspirational story and I know your mom is looking down on you and proud

    • Rose Ella Morton profile image

      Rose Ella Morton 

      9 years ago from Beverly Hills, Michigan

      hglick, I know this is true because my mother promise to help me write a book. she died before I had began to write it. I layed in the bed many nights with a pencil and pad in my hand, as she help me put down words. I finish my book in Dec 2005 and had it self-published in Feb 2006.

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Lisa, That is very true, when we lose a parent during our adult years, our mortality becomes much more real

      Rose, I've heard those words before and I feel that my mom is still in my thoughts and memories, therefore she is with me spiritually

    • Rose Ella Morton profile image

      Rose Ella Morton 

      9 years ago from Beverly Hills, Michigan

      I once heard these six words " mom's are not suppose to die" We don't want to every think of our mother not being around. but we don't really fully grow-up until we have no-one to call mom or dad.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Excellent Hub. I agree that it can, at least in some ways, be harder to lose a parent after having that many more years with them. I was 21 when my father died, but in my 40's when my mother died. Losing him was a giant shock, but having someone during the adult years means having yet that additional dimension to the relationship.


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