Trying To Come To Terms With The Loss Of My Mother


For the past several days my family has been in an uproar of energy, opinions, emails and phone calls about how to care for our aged mother. The care system we've had in place is falling apart and we are stumbling, controlling, gut-punching, aching and loving as we struggle with -- and amongst ourselves -- to find a solution.

This woman who held us as children, nurtured us, bothered us, sometimes belittled us -- but always loved us -- is no longer fully present within her own life. She cannot take care of herself, make cogent choices or stay within the present moment for long spaces at a time. She is walking, inside-dancing, sleeping, dreaming and remembering herself through this ending time of her life. And we, her six children, are trying to be of service to her in her journey.

We are also trying to come to terms with the already-loss of the full-minded woman who raised us, as we now care for the turning-towards-the-end woman who still holds our mother's name, resides in her house of 60 years, and has the sometimes pistol-sharp opinions and energy that we knew so well. We sit at the decision point of whether or not our mother should leave her home and go to live in a place that is designed to hold her in these last days and years of her life with safety, consistent care and the companionship of others of her age.

As I have read the emails going back and forth, as I have listened and talked, as I have felt ignored, been arrogant, opinionated and sometimes hurt, I realize there is much more going on than the "care of Mom." We are each feeling the ending days of our own youthful selves as we look at what is in store for us. We are also experiencing the tearing apart, the winding down and the not-pretty dissolution of the center of our family -- our mother is no more. The body that held her quick mind, sparking eyes and potent wit is still with us, but the core of that woman left us about six months ago.

It is the struggle with this loss that seems to be hurting us the most. We are each going about it in our own way. We are wandering in the past, arguing about the future, and do not quite know how to embrace the present. We are grieving, exhausted, upset and fear-shot. Our mother has already slipped away and we haven't been allowed to mourn her passing. We are in an in-between world of trying to come to terms with a different life. This also means we are each facing our own lives as they change forever right before our eyes -- remembering, hurting and sorrowing -- one day, one week, one tear-stained smile at a time.

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