On her own terms, Mom was ready to die. She was not afraid about trading this known world for the next one and had no illness or pain. She thought she was ready many times before, yet this time it was different. Her favorite saying, “Enough is enough,” was finally anchored deep in her bones and she was content to go.
A solid Virgo, Mom chose to be in control of her death. She wanted to be at home in her bed, surrounded by those she loved with no medical interventions except pain relief while receiving love and tenderness. As her “chosen” caregiver along with other kind caregivers, we helped her in her final moments.
At the beginning of her end, I felt bothered. I thought I had too much to do to care for Mom. Next, I fell into my grumpy and burdened self, knowing that my impatient, incompetent caregiver manner could be an issue. Finally, I lovingly accepted my role. I am an expert at organization and how to keep things tidy. Mom’s dying experience, although loving, would not be neat and tidy, nor would it be easy or normal. With apprehension, we were dancing in the end game together.
In writing My Pink Door, Mom’s Journey to the Other Side, I came to realize we played out four needed ingredients for her peaceful exit: love, forgiveness, permission, and honor. Our experience caused me to understand these values of a peace-loving death.
Love—This elusive emotion trips people up. When you recognize you can love the heart and soul of your loved one, rather than their human nature, it makes it easier. Your loved ones’ human aspects may have been hard to live with, their ego overwhelming you to the point of resentment or anger. When you look into the eyes of one who is dying and say the most important three words in any language—”I love
you”—you are giving the gift of eternal peace. You are not loving what their personality was, but how they love you and you, them in a soulful, heartfelt manner.
Forgiveness—At the end of Mom’s life, she said, “forgive me” over and over. Rather than seeking forgiveness from her family or friends, I think she was seeking forgiveness from herself for some action done during her life. For her, forgiveness was a soul saver. I called the priest even though Mom was not a practicing Catholic, and she had absolution a few times before. She was in a semi-comatose state, but the priest said she would hear him. Don’t be surprised if your loved one calls for a spiritual leader from their childhood to come and hold their hand as they begin the passing process. Allow their desires to be heard.
Permission—About two weeks before Mom died, she had me call her grandchildren for a short chat. We have a small family and everyone was in agreement that when she was ready, we would be ready to release her. If just one of us were to hold her back, she might feel that pull and stay here on Earth for their benefit. No parent wants to disappoint, even as they are dying. Each family member gave her the same kind, loving invitation to choose what she was choosing. Her suffering was almost over, so why force it to go on for our individual reasons? We are the ones who will miss Mom and suffer the loss of her presence.
Honor—We honored Mom’s wishes by giving her what she asked for. If it was breakfast, we made it to her specifications. If I needed to feed her tiny bites because she had no energy to lift the spoon, I did, feeling remorse that we had come to this point. When she was ready to stop eating and drinking, nothing was forced upon her. Almost 91, Mom was ready to go. In her last four days, she stopped eating. We loved her all the more for her strength and valor.
Every avenue toward death is unique and distinct, bringing surprises, growth, sadness, grief, and more emotion than you can imagine. I was amazed at the sense of sweet peace and calm that settled in the room as Mom drew her last breath, not remembering to catch another. Her next journey began. Mine continues.