I had six weeks to prepare for my mother’s death. That’s 42 days or 1,008 hours, depending on how you want to look at it. But, what I learned in those six weeks is it doesn’t matter if you have one day or one year, there is no time in the world that can prepare you for the absolute devastation you feel when you lose a loved one.
She was diagnosed with cancer in February 2016 and passed away on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Because of health issues she had been dealing with over the past few years, she was not a candidate for any sort of treatment. Coupled with the fact the tumor was on a carotid artery, surgery was not an option. Her already tired body just couldn’t handle it.
She was admitted into in-patient hospice care on Monday, April 11th. The first few days there, she was in and out of sleep but able to carry on small conversations. On her third day there, she had pretty much stopped eating and drinking. She was sleeping more and more and stopped asking for pain medication. I visited her every day, for several hours.
I held her hand, prayed for her, and told her I loved her.
On the evening of Friday, April 15th, I walked into her room and everything felt different. I knew she was dying. I sat with her for a while, and when I stood up to leave, I said, “I love you, Mom,” and started to walk out. Something stopped me and told me to go back in and say it again, but this time, to make sure she heard me. I walked right up to her bed, got right in her face and said, “Mom?” She opened her eyes and let out a low moan. Slowly and clearly, I said, “I love you.” With another low moan, she closed her eyes. As long as I live, I will NEVER forget that moment.
She died 14 hours later.
The six weeks of preparing myself for my mother’s death all led up to this one moment when I walked into her room and saw her lifeless body—my sister sitting on her bed, crying. It was then I realized there is NOTHING that could have prepared me.
I felt lost—like I didn’t know where I was, who I was, or what to do next. All I knew was I wanted her back. I wanted her to open her eyes and say, “Hi, baby!” like she always did when saw me. I sat down next to her on the bed and put my head on her chest. My sister sat behind me, rubbing my back as all the tears I’d refused to cry for the last six weeks wouldn’t stay in any longer.
My heart was broken.
I remember wanting time to stand still.
It was like I wanted the world to stop because my mom wasn’t in it anymore.
The week after she died is a blur to me. I don’t remember eating, showering, getting dressed, or how I got from one place to another. I do remember feeling numb and empty. And, tired. I was so, so tired.
I would get so angry when someone would tell me, “She’s in a better place,” or, “She’s healed now and free of cancer.” I know it was said out of love to make me feel better, but all I wanted to do was scream at them and tell them I didn’t care—the best place for her to be was right here with me! I called out to God more times than I can recall, yelling at Him for taking her away from me. Why, God, why? You don’t need her! I do. I need her! I felt so out of control of my own thoughts as I am not normally an angry person or someone who questions God’s will.
I was also in denial—it was like my head knew she was gone, but my heart wouldn’t accept it. I felt like if my heart accepted it, it would be real.
She has been gone almost four years now. Looking back, all the emotions I felt—and still feel—are normal and even expected. It’s part of the grieving process. What’s also normal is feeling fine one minute and the next minute feeling completely broken. It can hit me when I least expect it. A song, a TV show, a joke, a flower, a photograph . . . anything can trigger my grief and take me right back to the day she died.
While I miss her every minute of every hour of every day, I know Heaven is a better place because of my spunky, Elvis-loving, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup eating, red-headed momma.
Losing a parent is a unique pain. Healing after the Loss of Your Mother is a heartfelt guide for those mourning the loss of their mother, as well as the loved ones helping them through their grief.