So much has happened since I last posted.  My mother, age 89 passed away on January 29th, 2009.  I don’t care what anyone says, she died a painful death. She had a stroke but the good thing was, each decision that needed to be made, was made for us by the natural causes of heading toward death.

First she had the stroke which left her with no speech and the inability to swallow. The Doctors wanted to do a feeding tube but then her white cell count showed an infection.  She developed pneumonia. After the pneumonia, her lung collapsed.  The Doctors wanted to inflate her lung but then the cumidin which they were beginning to take her off of, caused bleeding from her lungs and blood pouring out of her mouth.  I spent several hours sponging the blood out of her mouth so that she wouldn’t choke on her own blood.

When the bleeding stopped, her kidneys began to fail.  At this point her living will clearly stated to allow her to die comfortably, so we had her on morphine every six hours.  The last three days of her life she had 106 fever, she was unconscious, she was in respiratory distress and I told her throughout the nite that it was okay to leave us, that we would take care of dad and that her mother was waiting for her. Though she was being given antibiotics and a cold thermal blanket to try to get her fever down, she continued to deteriorate.

On the last day of her life, all the grandchildren (except for one who was out of the country and except for my father who was at home sick) were in her room to say goodbye to her.  I had been sleeping at the hospital because I did not want her to be alone.  On January 28th at 11:30 p.m. I could see her breathing was deteriorating.  The nurses came in to turn her because of her bed sores and I asked that they leave my mother on her back at a 45 degree angle and requested they administer the morphine.  I found out during my sleeping over at the hospital, that the nurses only gave the morphine if requested and I certainly requested it when I was around.

At 11:45, my mother was given the morphine. I lowered the sidebars and layed down next to her, placing my hand over her heart to feel the beats.  I am hearing impaired and knew I could not hear the breathing and just wanted to hold her and lay my head on her shoulder.  I knew she was leaving and I wanted to be with her.  At 12:20, January 29th, my mothers heart stopped beating, her breathing seized and I waited and I cried.  I called the nurse in who checked her vitals.  My mother was gone.  She lay still, no pain, no awareness.  I couldn’t help but wonder where she was at that very moment in time.

After the burial, the shiva, the condolences, the surreal feeling of not knowing who, what, where and how, I cried.  Six weeks later, my father passed away very peacefully in the hospital.  Prior to his passing he spoke to my mother and reached out for her hand to take him.  On March 16th, she took his hand and they were joined together. My father celebrated his 90th birthday exactly a week before he died.  He was happy and so his death was a shock.

I feel consumed with mixed feelings of relief vs. lost.  I find myself crying in the middle of the day. I find myself crying when I go through the mail and find condolence cards.  I find myself reaching for the phone to call them, realizing, they are not there.  I’ve learned a great deal about death and dying over the past two months and I worry about my children and how I my life will end.  And then, there is life, the living. I want to live so badly and do everything my parents never did and couldn’t do.  I want to live.

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5 Responses to “Death and Dying”
  1. Robyn says:

    What a harrowing year you’ve had. I can’t even imagine what this was like. But your last line says it all – you have a wonderful positive outlook in life, despite everything you’ve been through.

    When you’re ready to travel – there’s a place to stay in NZ for you :)

    Cheers
    Robyn

  2. Sad says:

    It sure was a difficult ordeal you had to deal with the gradual deterioration of your mom and with the loss of your parents in a short time. I am now dealing with my own father who is on the decline so we are dealing with it day by day so it is a struggle for my mom to be a caregiver and to deal with daily matters. I find myself dealing with mortality. Scary… May I ask a question about your mom? How long did you have to deal with it? Thanks.

  3. Penquin says:

    Dear Sad, my mom has been sick for many years but she lived with my dad in an apartment near my brother and I. They had two live in helpers for the past two years but prior to that, only my mom needed help and that was for the past seven years. My mother suffered with diabetes retinopathy (she was blind), could not ambulate and was always quiet due to the meds she was taken. Over the past seven years, she had been in and out of the hospital several times for pneumonia. When she had the stroke in January, she lasted ten days and then passed on.
    You can’t help but feel scared, overwhelmed and sometimes, even guilty of wanting out of it. My father became my mothers caregiver for several years before he finally agreed to get help.
    It’s not easy but I feel I did the best I could and made them as comfortable as possible. I have no regrets.

  4. akljp says:

    Wow! I am happy I found this page. My mother has suffered from Congestive Heart Failure for years and suffered a really bad stroke 3 months ago that left her with very little speech and swallowing. She refused the feeding tube over 10 times after my siblings and I begged her to get it. Now, she continues to dehydrate and deteriorate with bed sores and loosing over 50 pounds which have kept my family taking her back in forth to the hospital. It’s just heartbreaking for all of us, but especially myself. My mother is on Morphine now and Hospice has taken over.
    My husband is a Marine and we have always been stationed 17 hours or more from my home town. Finally, we get stationed 12 hours from home and so happy about our kids getting to see and spend more time with their grandparents. Now, this happens and it’s just so hard. I find myself crying all the time and feeling so guilty because I can’t be there around the clock to help my sisters and brothers care for her. They get into arguments with one another about who is not doing their part to help, but then they apologized and work together for a while. I think it’s just a combination of hurt and anger toward what’s happening to our mother. It’s one of the hardest things I have gone through since loosing my grandmother two years ago and felt the same way about not being there to spend more time with her. Sometimes I feel as if I won’t live long because of so much heartache and stress. I have anxiety attacks and acid reflux. I have gone through three deployments to Iraq with my husband and it’s just too much sometimes, but I keep my faith in God for the most. I really have no one to talk to, so this has really helped me to get this off of my heart. I pray for all of you that you find peace and hopefully I will also.

  5. sydney says:

    I loved this post. It was so interesting. I will come back for sure. Im gonna bookmark it. thanks

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