Suffering and Peace - A Mother Lost

by Ashton
(Maryland)

What happens to the dying is a secret in our society. It is unspoken and that silence leaves those dying and the loved ones of the dying unprepared.

Hospice nurses are the only ones who know, and they descend like angels of mercy, into the houses of the stricken to impart morphine and courage.

But it is disgusting - what happens to people. People speak about how humans can't understand God, or his divine plan, etc. But seeing my mother die of metastasized brain cancer showed me the terrible truth that we cannot conceive the depth of pain and suffering that exists in this world either.

And it's not just my mother. It's millions of people dying of cancer all over the world, and AIDS, and tuberculosis, and countless other diseases. And how they suffer. It is nearly impossible to comprehend even having witnessed it first hand, that this torment can happen.

First they lose their strength, and then their minds, and they are so scared, and so confused. They are reduced to bodies of raw torment. My mother's feet starting swelling from the drugs they gave her to reduce the swelling in her brain caused by the tumors. The swelling in her feet got so bad it cracked the skin of her calves, ankles, and feet. Her feet turned purple and oozed for the last two months of her life, causing her constant emotional and physical agony. How do you tell someone that she doesn't need to worry about her feet being amputated because she will be dead soon anyway?

I know that people talk about the unspeakable sufferings of war. Nasty, violent scenes that they can express to people in words, but never completely convey. I think that watching a parent or sibling, spouse, lover, child die, especially if it is the violent torturous kind of death is similar.

But we don't know how to deal with either scenario. The zinging, pervasive message I hear in the undercurrents of society? 'Keep quiet about what you've seen, so you don't ruin the fairy tale for the rest of us.'

And maybe that's the way to do it; I don't know. But it does seem to make the whole process more difficult.

My mother walked in the breast cancer walk every year for four years. The last year she walked, she lit up with glee at the end, confessing, 'last year I could barely make it down the block. I'm feeling so much better this year.' Two weeks later she had a seizure. Three months of unfathomable suffering later, she died.

How I wish I could have saved her from this torture. How I wish we could group together to save others from this torture. Is cancer truly unpreventable? If we can split atoms and send robots to Mars to test the chemical components of its soil, can't we do more to prevent this disease?

I don't care how many billion dollars our government spends on cancer research. It is not enough. We dedicate our resources to wars for profit and ego when we could be saving children and parents - the innocent - from blazing torment.

I apologize for broaching the political, but this is "my story." And I cannot explain what has happened in any other way. I am disgusted with humanity and disgusted with the human condition. It is difficult to see any good in a world that lets these things happen to innocent people and then just covers it up like nothing ever happened.

I have a picture of her after she recovered from her first round of chemotherapy by my bed. She is the incarnation of joy and peace. I think she found peace in the end through the fog. She was terribly afraid - and she was a devout woman - but eventually her fear broke, like a fever, and she found a profound, happy-tears kind of peace in the end.

I don't know how or why she found that peace. Maybe something gave it to her, as in maybe something beyond our world reached out and granted her mercy from her fear and pain in her last moments of consciousness. If so, maybe they are right, that we cannot understand God, but that we are subject to his mercy when we need it. I sincerely hope so, for my sake, my mother's, and of course, for the sake of all the world.

Comments for Suffering and Peace - A Mother Lost

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Nov 09, 2012
Providence?
by: Anonymous

Ashton, I do not wish to add to your feelings about the world. I have recently lost my Mum too, in the same circumstances, and although I am kind of angry with Hospice for denying me the chance of being with my Mum when she passed, I am also extremely grateful that there are people in the world who do what they do.

My purpose in responding to your message is to say that I hope you are feeling better, and to try to bring a new perspective to your situation. Before I continue, I have to tell you that I have not yet reached the "anger" stage of my grieving process and I fully expect to feel the way you do when I get there. However, I hope I will be able to remember my own words, which are simply this:

Perhaps the 'denial' and the evident 'oblivion' of the world to death and suffering is a natural thing which was designed to protect us. Can you imagine how we would feel every single day of our lives, as young children, as young adults.. if we knew what our parents would suffer at the end? Can you imagine knowing at the age of eight, or ten, or even thirty years, how dreadful life would be if we could foresee our loved ones' suffering or that of our children, or even our own inevitable end? Please do not be so upset. Until one has actually been in this space, it is not possible to imagine, in our worst nightmares, the deep, raw pain of dying. Perhaps we should thank Providence for that, and perhaps we should try to hold onto the happiness which we gained from sharing their lives, rather than the sadness, the horror, and the anger of their parting. Life would not be worth living if we knew about, or remembered, only the bad things.

I hope that we will both find peace in their legacy and that we will not continue to dwell in their pain, or ours, because our own pain is what we have to try to deal with right now. My Mum is free from her pain, and your Mum is too. Try to find solace in that.

Aug 17, 2012
Horror
by: Anonymous

I relate only too well. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of unknown origin. Towards the end, it was everywhere.

He lost his mind, rambling on in a way that made me want to cry. He looked yelllow and skeletal with sunken in cheeks.

The chemo meds bloated out his stomach and swelled his feet so bad they started blistering.

On the last night of his life i watched him hrow up bile and his stomach contents because everything was just shutting down.

The movies portray cancer patients as laying quietly in bed until they slip away. But it's not like that at all. My father's death was the most horrific thing I ever experienced and even now 10 years later I get angry and ask why he had to suffer so.

Oct 18, 2009
I know what you mean
by: Pam

I know so well how you are feeling! I saw both of my parents suffer horribly and die of cancer, twenty years apart. My Dad died of gastric cancer at 59, my mother just this past March of a female cancer. They were both life long smokers, and I guess that probably contributed to it. But it is such a hard, torturous thing to go thru!

My Dad was more at peace with his diagnosis, after the initial shock, and I was with him when he died. My Mom was more afraid, and she fought hard, but it was devastating to see what damage cancer did to her! She got to where she couldn't walk, and she had been the most vibrant, active woman her age around! She had more energy than me most of the time, except for those last few months.

She kept her sickness secret until it got so bad she couldn't hardly walk and was in constant pain! It made me feel so awful...why couldn't she have told me that she was feeling bad? She and Dad both worried about doctor and hospital bills. They both kept their sickness from their family until they couldn't bear the pain!

Mom passed quickly one morning when I was coming to visit, but didn't I make it in time! They said it was peaceful, but how do I know?? I was sick with the flu myself, and didn't want to make her worse. I just hope she wasn't afraid. She had been unresponsive for several days, just staring at the wall. But it still hurts!

I just hope my Dad and older sister--who had passed previously--were there with her. I tried so hard to always be there. And in the end, I failed.

Apr 23, 2009
Totally understand
by: Anonymous

I so totally understand what you are saying. I watched my father, an uncle, and an aunt die of cancer. I have fought the battle with it twice myself. On April 3, 2009 I lost my 32 year old son in an auto accident. The world is NOT a pretty place. It is full of pain and suffering.

They say God gives us this pain to learn from but I don't believe it. How could my pain, my husbands pain, my granddaughters pain, and my mothers pain all be a learning experience from God??

I don't know why these thing happen but I think each person has to find his or her own peace with it. I don't BLAME God for any of it and I know without Him I could not live through any of it.

The pain of losing my son is the most intense pain I have ever felt. I would have said the human spirit could not survive such a thing. It is also true that other people shy away from it. It is sort of like if they acknowledge it then it is real and could happen to them.

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