My mother passed away this week. I know it’s not entirely unexpected, but in the end it was quite sudden. It was peaceful, though, and she was in no pain, and for that I am very thankful.

We had both been a bit unwell this week and all my caring duties had fallen in a heap. We’d talked about how impossible it was for us when we were both sick, and agreed to get more home help. I was on the phone to the district nursing service one morning when Mum called out to me from her bed. I was quite short with her which I will always regret. I guess because I was busy, barely capable of standing up myself let alone making phone calls and looking after her. Anyway, she said she was having trouble breathing.



They tested her blood and said her gases were all over the place. Apparently her lungs were just completely shot – from decades of smoking and from the cancer having zapped every part of her body of the strength it once had. Her body was holding on to carbon dioxide and not getting rid of it in the right way.

The doctor in emergency said she was going to die. Actually he didn’t. He told me a bunch of medical stuff and I said: “She’s going to die, isn’t she?”

Doctor: “Yes”

Me: “How long?”

Doctor: “She may only have a few hours. She might have a few days, or may be even weeks, but I doubt it.”

The rest of the day is a blur. I rang a friend to come and be with me, and a friend of Mum’s to be with her. I regret now not ringing more of Mum’s friends, even though she said she didn’t want to see them. But the look on her face when she saw this one friend – she just lit up. It was so beautiful to see.

I talked to Mum. The doctor had, too. She knew. She said it was her time. She was sick of all the medical junk she had to put up with, and totally and completely sick of her body. She was so thin and frail and could hardly do any of the things she once did.

I told Mum I loved her. I told her she could go when she was ready. That I would be ok, even if I’m not. I told her she could go but not to do it in the emergency department at the bloody public hospital which was full of people detoxing and drying out.

She wanted to go home. In the end it just wasn’t possible. I’m torn between beating myself up for not getting her home and realising that she was just too sick.

They transferred her to a lovely room at the private hospital across the road. They set up a bed for me to stay if I wanted. She had a few mouthfuls of food at dinner time, but started choking on phlegm and junk. They started suctioning and carrying on and it was very distressing for me and Mum. She pushed them away. I told them to stop.

They gave her some medicine to make her breathing a bit easier. She was sleepy after that, and at some point slipped in to unconsciousness, I think. I’m not sure. I don’t really know about these things.

A friend came in and we sat by Mum’s bed eating lollies and laughing. Mum would have liked that. Much more than the tears and stuff.

Shortly before 4am I woke up, looked over at Mum and saw her breathe. For whatever reason I went to the toilet, with plans to check on Mum afterwards. By the time I came back, she was gone. The nurses said they were just there, too, and she was ok. And then not. Gone. Just suddenly gone.

There is other junk that happened, like Mum deciding at the last minute she wanted to change her will, and me spending hours on the phone trying to organise this and then realising Mum may be wasn’t competent enough. She was fully alert and everything, but kept falling asleep and changing her mind about things and that didn’t scream “legal competence” to me, so I let it go. I can fix that up later.

I feel completely lost. I am trying to just put one foot in front of the other, but even that is a gargantuan effort. I am completely and utterly shattered and lost.

More later.

11 thoughts on “Sleeping

  1. (((Kerro)))

    I am sorry for your loss. I am glad your mother your mother died peacefully and you were with her through her final hours. I can’t imagine how many different things you are feeling right now but I hope you can take gentle care of yourself. I will be thinking of you and hoping that time and space to feel your feelings.


  2. Kerro,

    First, again, I’m very sorry for your loss. Even though it wasn’t entirely unexpected, we are never prepared for it to be today. I think it’s always a shock. Both of my parents are still living -though I nearly lost both of them, one to a heart attack the other to liver failure. With my dad, the heart attack, it was sudden and unexpected. Thankfully, he survived with bypass surgery. With my mom, it was a seven-month ordeal watching her die of liver failure. Thankfully, she survived, with very little time left, with a transplant. I share this because I know how hard it is to watch your mom’s health deteriorate and I know how hard it is to be a caregiver.

    I noticed you second guessed yourself a few times in your post. But I have to say, from what little I do know of your situation and from your description of the events that happened this week, you did everything humanly possible to make your mom’s final time on Earth as comfortable and pleasant as possible. It’s only natural to think and wish you could’ve just done this one thing more or differently. But, I do hope you are able to take the words of an outsider looking in -you did a brilliantly wonderful job caring for your mom.

    When my mom was sick, while she was at home, my dad, my sister and I took turns caring for her. The last few months she was essentially bedridden. Eventually, she could not speak, then chew, then barely swallow. I was unable to change her diaper. I just couldn’t do it. We do what we can and what we are able to do. No one can ask more of us. Before her last trip to the hospital she wanted her hair washed. My sister and I rigged a system with a bowl of water and a ton of towels, and together we managed to wash my mom’s hair while she was laying in bed. I remember wondering if this was going to be one of that last things I was able to do for my mother.

    If I’d lost my mom, I’m certain I would’ve beat myself up for not being willing to change her diapers and I would’ve wished I did this or that. But, my mom survived. She is well now. And, you know she is thankful for what I did do. She can’t remember when she was at her worst. But she knows her family took care of her. I know your mom appreciates everything you did for her.

    Personally, as we near our death, I think our soul knows before we know. I think it begins to prepare for death. I think it begins to prepare our minds and hearts and body for dying. I believe during this time something wiser than our human mind begins to take over. Being short with your mom when you were on the phone might have annoyed her a couple years ago, but I think as this wiser part of us emerges we see the bigger picture. I believe it’s our soul -perhaps our consciousness. It’s an inner self that the outside world wouldn’t see. But, our soul will know and see and feel the love and care of loved ones and not the little slip ups we all have when we’re stressed and tired and overwhelmed and scared and sad.

    I honestly believe your mom knew you were doing everything you could to make her happy and comfortable. It was safer for her to remain in hospital. So, please don’t feel badly about not taking her home. You would’ve driven yourself mad with worry at home over every little thing. If she even made it home.

    And, I also believe, even when our loved ones become unresponsive, that they know what’s going on in the room. When my grandma passed away, she was awake and responsive the day prior -I was the last family member to see her that way. The next day she was completely unresponsive and was expected to die soon. My grandma has four children -three are local and one lives about six hours away. She passed not long after her last child -her first born- made it to see her. While we waited for my uncle to arrive, we joked and talked. I’ve heard that hearing is the last sense to go! It was nearing mid-night when we all left the nursing home except for my mom and aunt. They too told her it was okay for her to go. And, she went.

    I’ve also heard repeatedly that people will often wait until a loved one is out of the room to pass away. I know of several situations that this happened. Again, I think it’s the soul that knows what is going on and knows what’s best.

    I hope you don’t mind my rambling on and I hope I haven’t said anything upsetting. A friend of mine’s father passed away last week. I knew him fairly well, so his death has been on mind and the passing of loved ones in general.

    It sounds as though your mother’s last bit of time here on Earth was time filled with love and a bit of laughter. That is beautiful! You’ve been caring for her. You told her you loved her. I’m certain she is resting in peace.

    My email is on my blog or Tweet me if you need to not be alone. Please know you are in my prayers and thoughts. Sending lots of love and comfort. The pain is no doubt crushing, but you have many friends here online who will be sending you healing thoughts, I’m sure! Take gentle care of yourself.

    With love,

  3. Dear Kerro,

    I’m sorry dear. I know how awful this is to go through and then have to deal with a mother’s death. I’m so sorry sweet heart.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  4. Thinking of you, Kerro. This is so hard, and confusing, and lots of other things. I do know absolutely, though, that the incredible integrity and caring you showed toward your mother are what matter … not the moments when you feel yourself to have been imperfect. Nobody is perfect. And very few people are as heroic as you were in the actions you took to make your mother’s last months as comfortable as possible.

  5. Kerro, I don’t know what the right words are to say, as I know that there are few things that can be comforting at a time like this. I’m glad you were able to be with your Mom during this time. Sending you lots of love and hugs, XX

  6. I’m so sorry to hear this Kerro. And I hope you don’t beat yourself up over things that could have gone a different way, you have been wonderful for your mom and things seemed to have gone very quickly leaving you little time to really think things over. The day my dad died, after an 8 year illness and months of being near death, and three days of being in a coma, I offered to run across the street to get food for everyone, and that is when he died. At first I was upset that I wasn’t there, but I’ve come to terms with that, and I know I was there for him for 8 years and that last hour doesn’t matter. I hope you find that to be the case for the things that you may regret.

  7. Hi Kerro,

    I’m so sorry for your loss…

    I really hope that you can hold onto two things that stood out to me from this post… your mothers smile, which you said lit her up… and her preference that you would be with her near the end, while laughing…

    There will always be things that we will regret, or beat ourselves up about regarding the passing of anyone close to us… but those two things are special…

    Sending positive thoughts your way,

  8. Dear Kerro,

    Thinking of you dear Grasshopper. I did Reiki distance healing this morning and you are on my list of friends and loved ones for healing. Good and healing thoughts to you as well.


  9. Thanks everyone for your very kind comments, thoughts and prayers. I have been meaning to respond or post again, but it hasn’t happened. Most things I think of doing at the moment just fall out of my head. Doh. Will try harder tomorrow. Promise.

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