The Day That Changed My Life
Today, June 16, is a day that changed my life.
It’s the day my beloved Momsy died.
We knew for some time that Mom had a life-limiting illness. What we couldn’t foresee, however, is the way that she went out.
I was hoping for Mom to have hospice care and a relatively graceful, low-pain, and dignified death. Mom had spent some time in the Palliative Care unit at a local hospital and she felt so great there – like an actual human being – with her pain and meds well-controlled, despite her advancing cancer, and it was because she was under the care of people who are specially trained in palliative work. She was able to return to her assisted living home where she was also brilliantly looked after.
Well, if you know us, you know the story. Mom died because of negligent care in a hospital. She had been admitted for a fall and they were supposed to be getting things sorted out and send her back home in better condition than she went in. Instead, she died of a subdural hematoma, one week after she was last able to verbalize that she loved me.
Those last eight days of her life were, in many ways, quite horrible. I spent literally every moment with her, as the hospital allowed me to room-in (and why wouldn’t they, after all…). I could tell she was in pain. I did everything I could to make it – her pain, her scenario, her experience – better. We listened to her favourite music over and over again. I talked to her and held her hand. I cried to her. She inched closer and closer to death.
And then, she was gone.
I suffered complicated grief for literally years afterwards. It took me away from my career as a registered nurse, as a nursing researcher, and as a nurse educator. It took me away from special moments with my family, no matter how hard I tried to be fully present. And it took me away from myself.
This is why I am now an End of Life Doula and Grief Counsellor.
To help others be as prepared as possible, even in the event of unexpected death.
To minimize suffering at a time when there will naturally already be suffering.
To ease the burden of the loved ones watching their family members die.
To facilitate a grief response that allows one day for readjustment to a new life without their loved one physically present.
So, while I miss my incredible Momsy with all my heart, I have readjusted to a life where her death gives me meaning in the work I do, of which I know she would be proud. And don’t worry, Mom, as you can see, I’m not standing at your grave weeping. I’m busy living, enjoying my husband and daughter, my friends, and my calling.
Thanks, Mom. I love you.