Never Underestimate Grief

Last night I felt like such a fraud.   I’ve been on this blog saying how happy I am that my mom is in a better place, that she has told me she is ok, yada, yada.   Well as Easter has approached, a holiday that my mother LOVED, I find myself getting more and more depressed.

The last two days I have done something I haven’t done in months.  Cry uncontrollably in the shower.  The shower is a great place for crying, don’t you think?  I mean, you are already wet, you already look like junk, why not cry too.  Plus, you can’t be heard in there very well.  Perfect crying closet.

When my mom died, I had this crushing guilt over her final days.   My mom started having pain in her legs and all over her body, she began crying constantly, couldn’t stop.  She would call out all the time and pull at her legs.  Her swallowing became non-existent as well and she couldn’t hardly take her meds.  I found out later that this had been going on for several weeks, from my dad.     The only thing that would quiet her and give her some relief was drops of morphine, adminstered through a liquid in her mouth.   She was very sensitive to medicine, but hospice told us that the morphine was so light and such a small amount, that it would only make a person sleep.   Well, when they told us that the pain she was going through was the dying process, we relented in giving her more morphine.  This is common for people in their final days/hours, but I couldn’t get over the idea that maybe we were accelerating her death.   Hospice told me over and over that there was nothing that could be done and that if we took her to the hospital, they would try to use heroic measures such as feeding tubes (she couldn’t swallow), vents (for breathing) or intraveneous morphine (stronger than what we were giving her.)  My mom said many times she didn’t want a feeding tube, didn’t want to go to the hospital, didn’t want any of that.   She had a do not rescussitate on her living will.   She stopped swallowing, could not take her meds anymore, pills that, in essence, were keeping her alive.  So really, nothing could have been done more to help her at this point.

But I still feel like I didn’t do what she wanted.  I still have moments where I wish she could have told me what she wanted.  When her swallowing stopped, her ability to communicate stopped too.  She was crying as if she was trying to tell me something, but I never could get out of her what it was.   When I finally told her, after a couple of days, that they told us she was dying, she calmed down.  I think she just didn’t understand that this was the final fight.  She didn’t have to struggle anymore.   For someone who had lived through a terminal cancer diagnosis in her 20s, breast cancer in her 40s, heart disease in her 50s and 60s, just laying down the fight is hard to do.

My husband asked me the same questions I ask myself.  What if she had lived through this crisis?  She would have been in a nursing home the following week, and my mom didn’t want to go to a nursing home.   My wonderful husband also said, “God takes us in His own time.   You second guessing God?”  Sage advice from my hubby.

I guess my biggest issue is that I was unable to be at my mom’s side every minute that last 7 days.  I was there, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part my husband, my two uncles and my sister sat vigil.   My dad and I, after years of constant caregiving, and some of the hardest months in our lives,  just couldn’t watch it anymore.   I feel like I abandoned her when she needed me the most.  I still carry that with me, though I know, deep down, my mom has forgiven any weakness I might have shown in those last days, and knows that I did my best.

What I am saying is never underestimate grief.  It comes in lulls and bursts.  I have just had a burst.   My friend, who has lost both her parents, told me that the “firsts” are the worst.   First Easter, First Birthday, etc.

I discounted that early on, but not again.     I know somewhere my mom is trying to reach across the great divide between this world and the next and comfort me.   I will take all I can get right now, Mommy.  I’m sorry for my mistakes.   I did the best I could.

If I made some that I shouldn’t have, I guess she can admonish me in glory.  We’ll have eternity to commiserate about every detail.

Somehow I don’t think she plans to do that when I see her again.   Just not her style

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