Author Topic: Too late to say goodbye....  (Read 10225 times)

johnnevin

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Too late to say goodbye....
« on: July 11, 2007, 12:04:37 PM »
My mother, Kathleen Nevin, died on 28 March 2007. She was 82 years old and succumbed to brain cancer.

Her last days were in hospice care. At home. I was not about to let her die in a wretched institution. I took the medical leave employers are required to allow you to take (I am sure they wouldn't otherwise allow it) and spend the better part of every day and evening with her. I had to hire a home health aide to assist with things I could not do, like change her or bathe her. She was in bed with the rare exception of getting her up into the wheelchair.

The pace of life for me as the primary caregiver and coordinator was exhausting. I am still not recovered from it. So the occassions where I could have "quality" time with her were less than I would have preferred. But, in one of those times, I made her promise me not to leave without saying goodbye. It was the closest I had come to acknowledging to her, with her, that her passage was near. She agreed not to leave without saying goodbye.

On the morning of her death, I was a matter of minutes too late. She was calling me for me, too. When I walked in and found her dead, I collapsed. I will never forget that moment of life and death. And, despite what people tell me, I still feel like I let her down. I was not there to say goodbye.

I loved my mother, and she knew it. The feeling was mutual. One spiritual director told me how beautiful it was to know that she was calling my name as she left this life and entered the next. I sometimes feel better to think of it that way. But to be honest, I often don't.

If anyone has something useful on this... I look forward to it.

Best,
JN

wpurdy

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2007, 01:29:46 PM »
John,

Thank you for telling us about what you're thinking and feeling.  Strange as it may seem, it's not unusual to hear that a loved one dies precisely then, when no family or friends are present.  Some people believe that's their way of trying to make the passing easier on the family.  In any case, it sounds to me that you did everything possible and appropriate for your mom.  Take a look at the article "Grieving through the Guilt" that I wrote.  It's here on the GC web channel.  WP

IN

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2007, 07:50:19 PM »
John:   On the evening of my mother's death I too was out of the room.  She has been ill for so very long and I knew it would not be long.  We had a cat and i put the cat's face next to my mom's face,  she smiled or so i believe she did.

I then went away for a short while and when I came back the room was quiet except for one final gasp.  I held her for a moment and called out for her but knew she was gone and no longer in pain.

She had told me she loved me a few days before,  as she did my brother.  Her final good bye was to our cat,  whom she loved dearly.  Prehaps she had held on until the last kiss was given by and to all. 

At times I cry because I was not there during the last moments,  but she always liked to protect me from what she felt I could not handle,  maybe for her this was her final earthly gift to me.

John,  you were there for your mom when she needed you to be and I am sure she knew how very much you loved her. I can tell by what you have written so your actions must have shown her. Prehaps she too wanted to protect you from the pain of haveing to wittness her final moments.

She must have loved you dearly and for that your are truly blessed.  Think of days your were there for her and not of the moment you were not.  And believe she is still close by.

lhenders

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2007, 09:13:47 AM »
John,

I too was my mother's caregiver, and I well know and understand the physical, mental and spiritual energy involved and how it absolutely drains you and can make you question and analyze everything you did or thought you didn't do but should have, you have my heart.  But you did not let your mother down---you were there for her when she needed you and, as you yourself said, your love for each other was mutual, and it always will be mutual.  Missing her actual passing was an accident, not deliberate neglect on your part, please try not to beat yourself up about it.  Hold onto everything you did for her and how you love each other, and draw your strength from that.

JL

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2007, 01:09:20 PM »
John,
As a Grief Counselor I know, and have seen countless times, that caregivers often feel
guilty even when they have been tireless in their care and devotion to their loved one.
Death is a messy business and even when one has had a relatively "good death" there
will be residual feelings which will gnaw at those left behind.
Your Mother may have been trying to keep her promise to you when she called out
your name so as not to let you down. The important piece is that you both loved
one another and were able to express it in countless ways throughout her lifetime.
JL
« Last Edit: July 30, 2007, 01:19:18 PM by JL »

johnnevin

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2007, 05:27:27 AM »
To the kind souls that took the time here,

Thank you. A lot of what you said made me sob, which something I probably need to do a lot more of.

The weight of my mother's demise and passing still paralyzes me at times. I miss her terribly. It is said she is closer now than ever before. I believe that, but as a fellow human being who still requires a hug, a nod, a wink at times, I can tell you that I wish I knew she was "alright" and that I am alright too. She was the one constant in my life, the one source of goodness I could count on without doubt. Life seems so hard and lonely without having that person who loved you unconditionally at hand.

Pray for me and my mom my friends. I will do the same for us, of course. This modern world is so hard and isolating. We need all the help we can get.

Peace be with you,
JOHN

johnnevin

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More than a year later...
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2008, 04:09:34 PM »
Hello Friends,

It is said in some circles that once a full year goes by, things get easier. You are not recalling what you did "this time last year" and the like.

Perhaps it is because of the aggravated circumstances of my life, the loneliness, the isolation, and so on, I am not sure, but I can tell you that there are times I actually feel worse now. My mom's passing was not so much a "thing to get over" as it has been a transition to  - what? If you ever had a "dependent parent" you know what I mean. So much of your own life revolved around their needs, and your own life gets subsumed by it. Some people have this in their lives; some people have parents that were more able to cope with aging. How blessed they are.

I will turn 50 this year, and I am not concerned about age at all, but the society we live in sure is. So much changes right under your feet, especially as you may have been consumed and focused on someone, like I was with my mom. Don't get me wrong - I would not change a thing. But I find myself ill prepared for a "free" life  - it does not feel like freedom at all.

I am totally sure if I had a supportive circle of people around me, life would feel better and worth living. How many of us can say that? A great many I suspect. Yes, yes, I have tried all the groups and counseling and all the other things that we reach for today to make up for the deficits of the "modern and comfortable" life. I tell you friends, we've been duped. The evil one has done double duty.

Please pray for me, as I will for you.
God be with you,
JOHN

TomG

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2008, 02:25:38 PM »
John,

I'm sure your year-long grief is in proportion to the love that continues between you and your Mom.  One always wishes to say goodbye. Even when it's a loved-one leaving through the front door in the morning missing the "bye" is a felt miss. My Dad waited for niether my Mom, nor me: we missed his leave by a few minutes.  I regret it.

But, it wasn't up to him; he couldn't wait and we had reason for not being there. His famous last words to me about a few hours before he died: "get yourself a sandwich".  I miss him. In private moments I celebrate his life as I saw it.

Be well and good.

Tom

fatpat

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2008, 08:31:51 PM »
John I am so sorry about your mother. I to lost my mother in April of this year. She went in the hospital  on Sat. morning. On Monday the Dr. called in Hospice. He told me her lungs were just worn out, she had a lung disease for years, suffered every day to breath. Had diabetes, heart problems, was a very ill woman. She was 73. On Friday I had several reports to get out, my sister and brother were in and out of the hospital that day. When I got off work I immediately went to the hospital. She was dying. She never opened her eyes even though she was still breathing. The nurse took the oxygen off and in a few minutes. She was gone. I told her I loved her, if she heard me I don't know. I feel so guilty for working that day. Family members say she is in a better place and she isn't suffering any more. I miss my mother tremendously. I just feel like I let her down, by not being there. I don't feel like I will ever get over this guilt. We were very close. I tried to always be there for her. But I wasn't that day. I ache everyday for my mother. Part of me died that day. I don't know what to now. 

johnnevin

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Re: Too late to say goodbye....
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2009, 07:07:41 AM »
It's been a good while now since I checked in on this site. There are so many stories, so much pain. Now that 2.4 years have passed since my mom left, I do find myself in a different place. I will not go as far as to say that I am in total acceptance or peace with her gone, I only rely on the knowledge that she is, at least, in a better place than I am.

When one is that integrated with another for so very long, you don't just get over it. You might get used to it, but the hole in your life is a constant companion. You have no choice but to embrace it, in all its desolation. It is possibly one of the best teachers in what life really is, and how the end of all things must come. If you allow a certain peace to fall over you vis-a-vis that knowledge, the certitude of how very different life is now for you will at least make some sense.