I Held My Mother As She Passed

by Rita H. Baker
(Forest City, NC)

My Sweet Mama

My Sweet Mama

“She held me as I entered this world and I held her as she left this world.”

My thoughts were scattered as we followed the ambulance to my mother’s final bed of rest on this earth. We entered Hospice early on a Sunday morning just before church was to begin. She was no longer carrying on conversations with us, as she was fast asleep in a coma like state. The end was approaching quickly for her but I just couldn’t accept the fact.

My mother’s illness of septic pneumonia progressed rapidly. I sat by her bed and put cold washcloths on her forehead trying to cool her from the extremely high temperature she had. It had ranged around 103 to 104 for several hours. Medication was not affecting it at all but I still held hope she would recover. All the signs were against it but I didn’t want to see them.

We played music by her bedside. She had always loved hearing my daughter sing so we played songs she had recorded on my computer. My mother would open her eyes when the singing begin but would soon close them again. My mother did have a few last words. As she lay on the comfortable bed provided by Hospice my mother never fully came out of her sleep. At one point my daughter was talking to her and Mama said to her “I love you”. Early, on the day of her death my mother voiced, “I feel like crying”. I may never know why she felt like crying but I am sure it could have been a number of things.

Her life was full of struggles and pain. She lost her mother when she was just six years old. She had endured the loss of two babies in her early 20s. Later she developed paranoid schizophrenia. This horrible mental illness took her opportunity at being the mother to my sister and me that she had always hoped to be. Her battle lasted all of her adult years and included assisted living and many medications. She also endured diabetes, high blood pressure, vision problems, incontinence, and crippling arthritis.

Even though my mother was not the kind of mother who could take me shopping or help me with any of my “girly” issues due to her paranoid schizophrenia, I still loved her and I always wanted her to know that. She loved flowers and that was my love language to her. I took her flowers often and she always loved them. She would have me sit them at the end of her bed. She said that is where she could see them best.

As the time came closer for my mother to leave this earth I found comfort in wrapping my arms around her and holding her close. I wanted her to know that I loved her even to the end. I wanted her last feelings to be the love of her daughter who was holding her as she met Jesus. I was blessed to be with my mother till she graduated on into heaven. I held her as she took her last breath at age 69.

Now I vision her healthy and happy wrapped in the arms of Jesus. She can now hold her two babies that went on before her and tell them how much she loves them and how she missed them on earth. She can dance and swing her babies around as she laughs and is happy. No more pain for my mother.

Comments for I Held My Mother As She Passed

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Dec 21, 2012
Dear Rita
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your inspiring message. I assume the picture is of you and your Mum and a family pet, and I am grateful to you for posting it. My Mum passed on this day (Friday), exactly 12 weeks ago. I did not think I would return to this site again but I miss her so much tonight that I felt compelled to come here; and I am pleased I did. Your post speaks of love and devotion and complete dedication to your mother's well-being. Yet, even for someone with your history, I imagine that the process of accepting that we can never be near them again must include a certain feeling of remorse for the things we did not do.

Before I continue, I have to tell you that my case is very different to yours. I was completely devoted to my mother in my early years. However, after supporting and abetting her in her final escape from my brutal and abusive father when I was eleven, my mother married a wonderful man. She had found the happiness she deserved, and even though we did not have much in the way of material wealth, we had stability. I imagined everything was okay and, finally, at the age of 20, I left home to follow my own destiny. My 'pursuit of happiness' took me to a city 800km away. What I realise only now, at the age of 53, is that my departure had left a hole in her life, somehow. We talked for hours on the phone and I visited often in the early years. However, Mum had two young daughters from her second marriage plus a growing brigade of grandchildren from my brother and my sister to occupy her. I did not imagine there was much time in her day to think about her distant daughter, and, unfortunately, I became self-absorbed and the intervals between my visits grew longer. I am lucky in the sense that I was able to reaffirm my relationship with my Mum 3 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but, to my regret, I discovered at the same time that she was in the moderate stages of Dementia. To crown it all, her rock (my step-dad) passed away unexpectedly 15 months later. Mum was clear of cancer after a mastectomy earlier in the year, but both her mental and her physical health began to decline. In June this year, while we were desperately trying to get help for her mental condition, we learnt that the cancer had metastisised. She passed away three months later.

Cont'd...

Dec 21, 2012
Dear Rita (Con'td)
by: Anonymous

The message which I'd like to convey after my long narrative is this... My Mum lost her own mother shortly before I moved away at the age of 20, and I do not believe I understood the grief she was feeling. I wish I had known. I wish she had told me. Being the age I was, I did not realise. I know that each of us must experience the pain of losing our mothers alone and that no-one can carry that pain for us. Yet, if I had known what I know now, I might have lingered a while. I might have put my own uncertain (though expectant) future on hold to sustain her through that period. In retrospect, I know that Mum suffered a double loss when I left her. I will always regret that, instead of helping her, I unwittingly added to her sorrow.

I do not have children of my own but I ask that you help your daughter and her siblings to understand the extent of the pain and the loneliness you are feeling. I realise that you cannot fully express your sadness, but, by being open and honest about your feelings, I am certain that it will give them the insight to help you through your devastating sorrow. I am certain, too, that it will help to prepare them for the inevitable day when you, their mother, must bid them goodbye.

Dec 20, 2012
STILL MISSING MY MOTHER
by: JOHN M GUINTO

I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL,I LOST MY MOM ON 7/23/11,AND IT'S BEEN ALMOST A YEAR AND A HALF SINCE HER DEATH AT 93 YEARS OF AGE AND I'M ON EXACTLY THE SAME BOAT AS YOU.I'M ALONE IN THE HOUSE I GREW UP IN,7 ROOMS OF MEMORIES THAT I GO TO BED TO AND WAKE UP TO EVERY SINGLE DAY,I THINK OF HER FROM THE TIME I WAKE UP AND START MY DAY TO THE TIME I GO TO BED AT NIGHT.IWAS SO USED TO HER BEING HOME WHEN I'DE GET HOME,BUT NOW I CAN'T LOOK FORWARD TO HER BEING THERE ANYMORE,I'M SO SICK AND TIRED OF GOING HOME TO AN EMPTY QUIET HOUSE EVERY NIGHT FULL OF MEMORIES OF THE WAY THINGS WERE WHEN IT WAS A FULL HOUSE WITH MY SISTER AND I AND MY MOM AND DAD,THEN MY SISTER GOT AN APARTMENT IN 1997,AND 3 YEARS LATER DAD PASSED AWAY OF RENAL FAILURE AND THAT LEFT MOM AND ME THEN SHE WENT IN THE HOSPITAL FEB 19TH FOR AN EVALUATION AND WAS FOUND TO HAVE DEMENTIA,AFTER A MONTH IN THE HOSPITAL,SHE WENT TO A NURSING HOME AND WAS THERE 3 MONTHS AND 3 WEEKS WHEN SHE FELL AND BROKE HER HIP CAUSING HER TO GO BACK TO THE HOSPITAL FOR AN OPERATION AND DIED A WEEK LATER OF COMPLICATIONS OF A FEMUR FRACTURE AND HER DEATH HURTS JUST AS MUCH NOW AS IT DID ALMOST A YEAR AND A HALF AGO, SO I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU'RE COMING FROM, MY HEART GOES OUT TO YOU, I'M SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS,MAY GOD BE WITH YOU AND COMFORT YOU, GOD BLESS YOU.

Dec 19, 2012
Me Too
by: Anonymous

Dear Anonymous I am sorry for your loss of your mom and how her death has left you feeling. So LOST. SAD. FRAGILE. EMPTY. BROKEN FOREVER. Even if you feel you are now a 47yr. old Orphan you still have a heavenly Father. The Bible says When Father and Mother forsake you God will take you up. You have to open the door and invite God in to comfort and hold you in your pain and sorrow and loss of your mom.
You didn't do anything wrong to suffer or your mom to suffer the way she did. I have learn MUCH through suffering. It is how God shapes us and develops our character. Often I fought against what God was doing in my life, and still do at times when I don't understand. But I feel that when my husband Steve was dying of cancer God spoke to Him. Steve lasted longer than anyone I knew with an aggressive cancer. I pleaded with God to HEAL him. But he died after 3yrs.39days. As hard and painful as it is I have to accept God taking Steve. I HURT when I think how he suffered. It is the suffering that comes from a DEATH is the only suffering I am finding difficulty accepting. It is a Pain of being BROKEN. (and more).
I am happy that you have your job as a teacher and that you have that diversion from your sorrow for some of the time. The more you love a person the more it hurts. Grief makes the body hurt so much it is hard to move at times. The whole atmosphere of our world is shattered and we cannot gather up those pieces to put them together. It is going to take a long long time for us all to find our way back to health and sanity. Death is like fighting with the LION and the battle is too strong.
You will find your way back to better days knowing your mother is at peace and rest. It is not what we wanted.
The massacre in Connecticut was so devastatng. On your home territory that puts my loss in some perspective. Young children with their whole lives in front of them CUT DOWN. Families fractured forever with their LOSS. There are no answers. We live in turbulent times. We are all broken forever. May God comfort you in your sorrow and grief. I hope life does get better for you each day as you HEAL from your Loss.

Dec 18, 2012
me too
by: Anonymous

I wept as I read this. My beautiful precious mother died a year and a half ago. I held her as she left this world. My beautiful mother full of so many fears and phobias her greatest fear being dieing. I am an only child and unmarried my parents were my life. Now I am a 47 year old orphan. My father having died of cancer ten years ago. My mother closing herself off from the world after his death. Never leaving our home except to go to church or the cemetery, never going to a family function, store, rarely even stepping outside but living for me. Taken so quickly 13 days after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, not wanting to know anything about her illness she refused to talk to the doctors....I her protector for so many years. I am so lost, devastated, empty, lost.....This is surviving and not living. What did we ever do?????? Am I being punished for something?????????????We were good people always willing to help all those around us. I am a teacher and thank God for my job at least something is normal in my life. I hate coming home to her not being there. She waited for me at the door and would smile as soon as I entered each day. I was fortunate to have such loving, caring parents who devoted their life for me. Now what??? Maybe it would have been easier to have crappy parents maybe this would not be so gut wrenching. I visit the cemetery each morning before work and at the end of each day. I prayed so hard, now I have such a crisis of faith, I pleaded, begged to not take her so quick so soon. The last few days of her life she suffered the pains of hell. Such a gentle woman why was she made to suffer. I prayed again and told this so called God to take her and not let her suffer any more. Not even that prayer was answered she continued to suffer for 72 more hours. I would have gladly switched places with her. Now I can't pray.....I just have a heart ache that is worse than any pain I could imagine. A year and a half and I still can't believe she is gone. 13 days after being diagnosed I literally never left the hospital room even though my family thought I should sleep....I was not going to let her die without me. 13 days she held my hand and never let go. I know one of her biggest fears was leaving me.....well cancer took her and my father ....I am on antidepressants anxiety medication...... me who never took anything stronger than an aspirin. Thank you to all who read this.

Dec 18, 2012
I Held My Mother As She Passed
by: Doreen U.K.

Rita I am sorry for your los of your Mother. How you loved her and didn't let any of the disabilities affect your love for her. You seem to have had a deep understanding of your mother's needs and met them as best as you could. You are a remarkable daughter.
I did voluntary work in Mental Health for 8 yrs. and I can tell you of the sadness of people with mental health issues and they cannot help themselves. They are trapped in their silent world of mental disability and need drugs to help them cope.
Your mother is safe in Jesus and you will see her again only with a new body and mind and she won't be the same person she will be renewed and you will have the life you were meant to have forever. Hold onto this. May life treat you well and that you will be happy once again knowing your mother is SAFE.

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