“End of Life” – A Personal Story

Please don’t let the title of this article prevent you from reading it.  End of Life is part of life.  Each of us will experience an end to our life at some future time.  We don’t have to fear it.   In the article:  “The Wonder of Hospice,” you received an explanation about what hospice is and how it works.  With this article, I’d like to tell you about the weeks leading up to the earthly end of my Mother’s life.  It was an amazing time.

On March 31st, 2010, my Mother’s earthly life ended and her Heavenly life began.  It was during my January visit that year that I had an experience I’ll never forget.  I was sitting by Mom’s bed while she was napping.  After about an hour or so, she looked over at me, but she didn’t really “see me,” it was like she was looking at something else.  She looked back toward the ceiling, raised her arm, reaching out as if she was trying to touch something or someone and then she smiled her big smile… turned her head again, then smiled again… this went on for about 10-15 minutes.  I watched in awe.  I had a feeling that maybe she was looking into Heaven…seeing someone she knew? Seeing angels? Or Dad who had died two years prior…… but for those few minutes, she was definitely somewhere else.

It was shortly after that time, the supervisor nurse stopped by to check on Mom and I told her about what happened.  She said that it was not unusual for someone who was at the end of life, to have experiences like that.  In fact they often see loved ones who have gone on before them.  This in fact did happen a lot with Mom.  One of her favorite Aides, Sharon, told me that quite often Mom would see Lawrence (my Dad) standing right beside her; or hear him knocking on the door.  Sharon told me that when getting Mom up one day and while Mom hung on to her during the transfer to the wheelchair, Mom said:  “do you hear the music?”  Sharon didn’t hear anything, but she knew where the music came from (and so did I;) and it wasn’t of earthly origin.

During the 3 months leading up to March 31st, I learned a lot about end of life issues from the nurses and Aides at Manor Care in Spokane.  Mom didn’t have outside hospice come in, but the staff handled the hospice-related issues with many of their residents and were trained as to what to do.  Mom kept saying she needed to get up and go to the farm – that her brother was waiting in the car to take her.  This was described to me as yet another thought process for those at their end of life.  This went on for several days at a time, where she tried so hard to get out of bed because in her mind, she needed to get to the car where her brother was waiting.  Obviously no one wanted her to fall, so, the staff kept her safe by keeping the bed at its lowest position and placing a thick pad on the floor, just in case she did get out of bed when no one was around.  She never did, but the added safety was of great comfort to all of us.  Mom did have some pain issues in the last few weeks of her life, but thankfully, the staff met that need too.

Knowing that Mom was being well cared for in her last weeks of life meant a lot to me, and to our family.   Some of us will need more end of life care than others.  Many of us won’t linger, but some of us will.  We may not experience everything that my Mother did during her ending weeks; in fact it could be a lot different.  But it would be impossible to provide every scenario in this article.  My goal with this personal story is to be an encouragement to you when you go through something similar in your family or with one of your friends.  It may be called End of Life.. but I believe it’s the beginning of a new life with God.  If you haven’t had a chance, please read the article:  In Memory of Mom.”

 “Spread the love of God through your life, but only use words when necessary”
Mother Teresa