Nancy Wurtzel

Nancy Wurtzel is a public relations professional and creative writer, who recently returned to her native Minnesota after living on the West Coast for many years. Read about her midlife journey on her blog, Dating Dementia, as she navigates through divorce, restarting a career, dating, empty nest challenges, moving home, baby boomer issues and caring for an aging parent with Alzheimer’s. Follow Nancy on Twitter and Facebook.

My Mother at the End of Life: Waiting for Death

Posted by: Nancy Wurtzel Updated: December 12, 2013 - 8:51 PM

This post was written in November when my mother was nearing the end of life.

Death comes in its own time and I am not good at waiting.

I’ve realized I can only sit by a bedside for so long before I must be up doing something.  Like my mother, who is at the end-of-life, I am a doer.  I’ve had lots of people staying in my house and there is so much to do — laundry, cooking, dishes, fielding calls, making lists and more.

It’s good I have a big house as all three bedrooms are taken and then we have more beds set up in the basement rec room.  I bought this house with the idea that I’d have a lot of company, and that certainly has come to pass.

Today, our cousin brought her lovely black lab, Belle, to spend time with us.  Belle made everyone laugh with her energy and antics.  Fencing in the sides of my yard, so I can get my own dog, is a priority for the coming year.  I’m a pet person and I’ve been without one for much too long.

Planning for the new year ahead reminds me that my mom won’t be here in 2014.  It feels funny to be thinking ahead, while she is in her final days.

Early this morning, about 3 am, I was sitting with my mom when she was having a terrible, agitated period — throwing up her hands and gasping for every breath over-and-over.  So awful.

Over the phone, the hospice people guided my sister and me  through dispensing medications.  The triage nurse told us Mom had probably entered the “active dying” stage.  When our hospice case manager came today she concurred and said it could be hours or days and she told us what indicators we will probably see.

We are waiting for death.

It is certainly not a Hallmark card.  Nor is it a Lifetime movie where Mummy has great lighting and takes her last breath on queue.  Instead, my mom’s departure from this world is more of a ragged, lurching, protracted crawling toward death.

Watching her demise makes me think of my own death, which I don’t really want to contemplate.  But I can’t help going there in my head.  I wonder under what circumstances I will leave this world and if it will be a fast or slow, easy or prolonged leaving.

My hope is that we will have more options on deciding our own fates by the time I die.

I am planning dinner for tomorrow night when we will be a party of five or six, not counting my mother.  She will either be gone or she will be breathing with effort down the hall in my master suite.

I feel suspended.  As though I am looking down on someone’s life, but not my own.

But this is indeed my life and I must go and sit with her.  I will sit until I cannot sit any longer and then I will get up and do something.  My mother would understand.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT