When my son died my mother felt like she was losing her only daughter in addition to her youngest grandchild. She was desperate to make me “better.” Whenever I would call her she would ask me how I was feeling and that would lead me to tell her the truth, I was feeling rotten. She couldn’t accept this and would tell me that I needed to get through this because she needed me. It became more difficult for me to talk to her because of these exchanges and I began to call her less often and distanced myself from her as I suffered from the severe grief of losing my only child.
My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of 2007, just months after my son’s death. I felt like I had not been doing my job of taking care of her like I always had---taking her to the doctor and making sure she had the things she needed. I had given over these duties to my brother and his wife because I was just too exhausted from my grief and didn’t feel like I could handle any additional stress. When I found out that my mom was terminal I took over and made sure that she was comfortable at the hospital and then eventually in hospice.
I stayed with her most of the time and we talked, laughed, and cried. I would take in photo albums; we would look at the pictures and tell stories of our family and of course memories of my son. At one point I was sitting in my mom’s bed with her and she told me this was just what she had wanted—for us to be together and talking like old times. I was so happy that I was able to be there for her and for me.
Her death taught me what a “good” death was like. She had lived a long life and she was ready to transition to the next phase. She was able to have a gentle death and we were then able to give her a well-planned and loving memorial service.
Although I miss her in my life, I am so grateful to have had the honor to be there to help her when she was facing death. It showed me that death can be a welcomed event for the dying and that it is a privilege to be able to assist someone in his or her journey.
I love you Mom.