Saturday, September 28, 2013

My mom's death part 2

I am writing in purple in honor of my mother. My mother loved purple. She had a bumper sticker on her car that said, I Love Purple.She made me a purple and white afghan that took her four years to crochet. I have wrapped myself in it for twenty years when I am working. Wrapped in it on the first cool fall day this week I remember her and feel wrapped in her love.
  My Mom has been dead for almost seven weeks. I have been seeing a grief counselor through hospice, who has been very helpful.I have learned so much about grief and how pervasive an experience it is. Grief has affected me emotionally, physically intellectually and spiritually. I cry often without exactly knowing why, I have been having trouble sleeping and remembering things, I feel a  sad, heavy weight on my shoulders and fear arises without warning. I am so aware that I am the next in line with both my parents being dead. I feel disconnected from the universe and then joy floods in and I feel connected to all there is, grateful and filled up. 
   Mom had two TIAs which are mini strokes on Monday August 4th which left her pale and listless and less able to move . She seemed to rally during that week eating and drinking well.  My mother started her dying process that Friday night. She stopped wanting to eat and then on Saturday spit out what she was given to drink. I worked with the  loving staff of the assisted living facility to let them allow her not to eat or drink. They cared about her and wanted her to keep living. I cared about her and wanted her to be allowed to die. They were willing to listen. On Saturday night I felt her declining. On Sunday, my partner came down from Boulder and my daughter he and I assembled my mom's kosher casket. Her wishes were to be buried next to my father in Colorado Springs in an orthodox Jewish cemetery. A kosher casket has no metal parts and hers was a plain pine box. It was a sweet ritual to build her casket together and increased my sense that she would be leaving soon.
I was supposed to leave for Boulder to see three clients and our couples counselor on Monday. I decided to cancel everything and stay in Denver with my mother. We called the hospice nurse and when she arrived she said my mom wasn't in her final decline and could live for a week. I felt silly for cancelling everything and began to second-guess myself. I realized I wouldn't have been comfortable leaving regardless. That afternoon my daughter and my nephew came to visit their grandma and said goodbye to her. They were very close to her and it was sweet and sad. That night the caregiver asked me if I wanted to sleep in my Mom's room. I instantly knew that felt right and was so grateful to her that she offered. They were kind enough to move her roommate to another vacant room so I could sleep in the bed next to my mom. During the night my Mom was breathing heavily with the rattling breath my father breathed the night he died. I felt an outpouring of love for her fill my heart. All of my impatience and frustration and feeling of being burdened by taking care of her melted away. I held her and told her I loved her over and over and thanked her and asked for her forgiveness and forgave her. At four in the morning I woke up and went to her bed. She died shortly after. Her eyes were wide open all night and she was reaching upward. It felt to me like she was connecting with my father. That was comforting to me and I hoped to her. It took me a long time to be sure that she was dead.  I sat with her body for two hours trying to be sure and thinking I needed someone else to validate her death. Finally I knew she was dead because her extremities were cold and her heart had clearly stopped beating and she wasn't breathing. I knew I could trust my own truth and didn't need external validation. That was very healing for me. I called my sister at 6 and she knew my mother had passed. She was on a plane to Denver in a few hours. 
   It was a beautiful experience of being alone with my mother  during her dying process. It was so clear to me by the dawn that she wasn't in her body anymore. I could feel so keenly the impermanence of life.  I could see her body as a vessel that she had inhabited and now had left. I knew her spirit was free. I knew she was no longer imprisoned in a body and mind that were so very limiting for her. I could feel her spacious presence with me and no longer in her body. It was a very joyous experience. I felt kind of dazed and other-worldly and had trouble relating to all of the peoples' condolences at first. Watching the mortuary people take her body away brought me back to the earth. She was buried, as is the Jewish custom, in 24 hours, in a simple graveside service on Tuesday in Colorado Springs.
Being with my Mom through her dying process has had a profound effect on my life. Death informs life. I will write more later. Thanks for listening. I hope my experience with death is informing your life, too.