Back on the Blog.

I've been afraid to start this, unsure that the words would come, unsure that if the words came that they would adequately touch the depth of this experience. But as with all forms and subjects for writing, the important part is to begin.

My mother died on a snowy Monday morning two weeks ago. We missed her by minutes. I slept fitfully in a recliner in her hospice room all night prior, counting seconds between breaths, trying to remember to keep breathing myself. My father slept on an air mattress next to her bed, doing the same. The nurse came in at seven to check on her and administer more medication and left to get a stethoscope. Our eyes drooped closed, and when the nurse came back, she had gone. The air slowly exhaled in one long quiet breath from her lungs, and she crossed over into the next world. It was as simple and as peaceful as that, just as we had prayed for.

I cursed myself for missing it, for not being awake to hold her hand and say goodbye. But now I understand that I was doing exactly that for the months, weeks, days, and hours beforehand. Things had become so apparent; as much as we wished it were different, we knew what we were facing. Therefore, important words did not go unspoken. Time was not wasted. There was no limit to love in those days; how grateful I am for that. And in the moment she left, it was appropriate that she make that transition independently; she didn't need anyone to cling to her and beg her to stay as she made her way into a new life that she rightfully deserved.

I can't say much without saying it all, and a single blog post won't hold the whole of it. If you're at all like me and you haven't experienced death first hand, you probably have all sorts of questions running through your mind :

Is it scary? Can you sense death's presence mentally, spiritually, emotionally? How do you know when they are getting close to the end (days, hours, minutes)? How do you carry on conversations with each other when things become that serious? Is it better to talk about it, or avoid it? How do you spend time with your loved one in the days before their death if they are conscious? How do you comfort and encourage them as they reach death? Losing a loved one is hard - where and how do you find solace and strength to keep living? When your loved one suffers from a terminal illness, can you really find relief in knowing that they are no longer suffering, or is that just something ignorant people tell you when they don't know what to say?

There is a lot that people don't talk about when it comes to death. Why bring it up now, when things are fine? But death is a part of life. Whether it is from a terminal illness, natural causes, or a sudden accident, it happens to each of us; it's only a matter of time, and we never know for sure how much of it we have left. And there are so many ways that it changes us as we witness it, and as we draw closer to it ourselves. A sense of our own mortality is part of what makes us human.

So in the weeks and months ahead, as I process this loss, I will write about it here. If you have specific questions, or if you have your own story to share, please email me. I'd love to dialogue about it.


TGL said...

I look forward to reading your thoughts as you work through this one. Not easy, but unfortunately unavoidable. Thinking of you <3

Melissa Tydell said...

Welcome back... and thank you for being brave enough to share your thoughts with us.

Tom said...

I went through the same thing last August, when my wife of 31 years (and best friend of 37 years) died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 54. I was there for that last breath, holding her hand and telling her I loved her. All I wanted at that moment was to be there for her as I had always imagined she would be there for me at my end.

I knew the instant it happened. She was gone. What remained resembled, but was in no sense, her. I am an atheist but the church's language about the soul departing, leaving only "remains" made sense at that moment. A nurse tried to comfort me and I remember feeling sorry for her. I am a big, authoritative-looking guy and she was always a little scared of me. I guess a creature like that looks every scarier when lost to grief. I sat waiting impatiently for a doctor to tell me officially what I already knew so I could go tell my daughters and my wife's mother who were asleep nearby.

I feel for you in your pain, Bethany. You are going through what my two daughters went through (and are still going through). All I can say to you is what we said to each other in our pain. Grief is natural and right, but she loved us and would not have wanted us to be unhappy for too long. What every parent wants, at the end, is for their children to go on to lead long, happy, fulfilled lives and for them to have their loved ones nearby when their own end comes. That's what your mom wanted for you, I am sure.

Annmcclintock said...

I think I shared with you Bethany, what was written on top of a womans obituary.  You cried when you came into this world..we rejoiced..You rejoiced when leaving this world,we cried.  I am so thankful your mom is rejoicing.  Imagine her homecoming

Droschae said...

Excellent!!  You express yourself so well.  Take lots of time to grieve and heal.  Your mom was such a great woman and taught us great things through her courage.

Sue said...

Bethany, I am so sorry for your loss, there are no words that will make it better.  I have lost both of my parents and I was with them at the end. November 6, 2009, my son breathed his last and I wasn't there, didn't even know it was happening.  I have many questions which won't be answered until I come face to face with my maker.  I am happy for you that you had the time to say goodbye, and yes even though you were nearby but asleep when she went, you
were with her and she knew you were there. I will be praying for you in the weeks and months to come.

Ldpeterson said...

Your words are beautiful and they make me cry! You have a gift and God will use it to help you heal. Keep writing because it will help us ALL heal. Your mom was precious and so are you! But what else would Tina raise but a gifted, articulate, beautiful, inspiring daughter. Of course she did.


Lizzie said...

You are in my prayers, dear girl. You have so much courage, love, and talent, all of those undoubtedly passed down and learned from your mother, so use those gifts to heal. Beauty comes through pain, and you are one beautiful girl. I look forward to reading more from you this year.

Kanna Taylor said...

Your post truly spoke to me. I went through this only a couple weeks before you did with my dad. You bring up a lot of good questions, and bring words to thoughts I have but didn't know how to write or say it. Thank you.

kati said...

Bethany, I would love to dialog with you about death, and the power of loss.  My heart goes out to you.  Death changes everything, and nothing, all at once.  
I had a very similar hospice night not too many months ago myself.  And now I am without my father.  I have written a lot about it, and would be happy to share with you. My email is thektgroupgmail .com.  

Bethany Suckrow said...

Kati, I feel so bad! I didn't see this comment before today. I would love to dialogue with you about this experience. I'll email you!

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