So, She’s Dying

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It was 7:30p.m. last Thursday when I called my mom’s doctor. “I think she’s dying,” she said. I was sort of stunned. I’ve been waiting to hear these words for a very long time. I don’t remember exactly what came out of my mouth. At that point, my mom hadn’t eaten for three days. She had a fever, too. The doctor didn’t know exactly what was wrong. She thought it was something viral, a stomach bug. A few days before, she was vomiting and had diarrhea. I told her that I didn’t want to treat for anything. I just wanted her to be comfortable as possible. Random feelings started bubbling up… guilt (who prays to receive such a phone call?), relief (finally, this has gone on long enough), sadness (my mother is dying) and more guilt (did I do enough?). And then, I felt fear. Fear that she would rebound. That this was just another false alarm. My mother has been close to the brink before, only to come back. She’s like the Terminator.

I spent most of yesterday with my mother. She was so weak, frail. But her skin was soft and smooth. I kept rubbing her her forearm. I don’t think I’ve ever felt skin so soft. I held her hand. I told her it was ok to go. That things here would be fine. I prayed the Our Father in Spanish (I cheated and used my phone. I had forgotten the words). I showed her videos of her granddaughter. Throughout the day I gave her water using a dropper. I left when she fell asleep. Ativan is good like that.



  1. Oh Kathy my heart and soul feel your pain your guilt your loss your confusion … This is a very difficult time. I know I just went through it my own mother the end of February.
    May you celebrate the release of your mothers soul knowing what a wonderful daughter you have been also realizing how many people worldwide your journey together has touched and changed lives.
    You both have been an incredible gift to the world and for that there are no true words that can convey my gratitude
    Love peace and healing to you all

  2. Hey – if it is the time, I hope it is peaceful and leaves you with a little sweetness to remember. It has been a long, hard road, please don’t feel guilty about that sense of relief that you (and Mom) have come to the end of it! You are in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings to you, and thanks that you have a chance to be there. That will mean a lot to you as time goes on…it sure does for me.

  3. You are not alone. My mother passed away in March. I had all those feelings too.

    The days before she passed, my sisters and I sang, laughed, prayed, cried in the room with her. My moms breathing was rapid, but would ease with morphine. My youngest sister put makeup on mom (since now she couldn’t resist), and she looked more like herself than she had in years. The hospice nurse even shaved her legs.

    On the last night, we were there late. Her breathing had eased, so we thought we had more time. We left to go home, but went bowling instead because none of us were tired or thought we could sleep. At 2am I got the call. She was finally at peace.

    I thought everything would get better and be easier after she passed. Unfortunately not. Be patient with yourself. Tell your loved ones to be patient with you too. Every feeling that you are feeling is valid and nobody can tell you not to feel that way.

    This whole thing sucks, and yes time will help, but it takes a lot of time.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Xoxo.

  4. I understand your sentiments; I think many caregivers with a dying loved one wishe them a final Independence Day – freedom from all the restrictions their disease or age has put on them.

  5. Kathie, Holy Cow, dude! Perhaps I’m too myopic or caught up in my own life and deaths but I follow your blog and find it refreshing, ironic, sad and poignant in a raw, honest and realistic way….but I didn’t know you were YOU, the fellow child/caregiver in my group. I can’t tell you how much just your presence at those meetings has helped me. Thanks for it all! I am sorry for the loss of your Mom that started so long ago but I am relieved that the suffering will end soon. Hospice care is amazing and knowing that ‘hearing’ is one of the last senses to go…try, if you can, to fill her head or heart with positive thoughts and memories, happy and comforting words. Stay strong.

  6. I’ve been following you and your mother’s journey quite some time via your amazing blog. There’s nothing to say to make the end of the journey any less painful. Hopefully, a sense of peace will eventually triumph over the guilt, grief and despair.

  7. Thank you Lori. I appreciate your support and friendship on this journey. I don’t know how it will unfold and I’m still having a hard time believing it. Thank you, k

  8. Thanks Katie. I’m struggling to believe we’re here. And I haven’t even thought about life when she’s gone at this point. Thank you for your words and thoughts.

  9. Kathy, I have been following your blog and it has been a godsend. Thanks. You are brave to stick to the hospice plan and NOT intervene to address your mother’s fever, etc. I imagine that you might second guess yourself and feel tremendous guilt. I would guess that keeping your eyes on the BIG PICTURE and ULTIMATE GOAL of a peaceful and natural passing might help, despite what other family members may say to you or feel themselves. Please know that many people are supporting you, including me. By sharing your experiences, you have helped many of us in similar situations, and for this, I will be eternally grateful.

  10. hi Kathy, I stumbled on your blog recently and was elated at reading the feelings and roller coaster journey you and your mother have been on because they’re sooo much like mine, and i guess countless others. but your writing is so direct and refreshingly honest. Thanks. I’ve been writing a blog on my and my mother’s journey through vascular dementia over the last couple of years. I’ve put a link to your site on my blog. I can’t see how or where to send you a trackback/pingback. Please let me know

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