My last 24 hours with Mom...

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I want to share the last night with my Mother while here.
The day before she left us she wanted to get out of bed and get dressed. She wanted to stand, so my son helped her up and she stayed in his arms for like 10 minutes. Meanwhile we kept asking her if she wanted to sit in a different chair; she said "no". We asked if she needed to go to the bathroom, she again said "no". We asked if she wanted to lay down and I'll never forget that stern look she gave us, a look like "what are you crazy, that's all I do." After however many minutes she was in my son's arms, she then said she wanted to sit. So she sat and I sat next to her, my son on the other side. She wanted to change, when I asked to what she said it didn't matter. She kept saying that we had to go, we have to go. In hindsight, now I know what she meant. I showed her a different pajama top and she said that was fine. So she was now changed. She said she was tired, so we laid her down. She wasn't eating or drinking, she had thrush (horrible sores in and around her mouth and under her tongue). We had a 24-hr nurse in the home then. In the middle of the night, she was in pain and breathing really bad. It seemed that she was choking and making rattling sounds. In the book that Hospice gave me, it said that these are called "rattling of death" (yes, terrible name) and that it normally bothers the caregivers more so than the patient. I showed this to the nurse and my brother, they didn't want to believe it. I guess I was just providing a fact, I'm not sure if I believed it either. I don't quite remember. Anyway, we called Hospice and asked what can be done about it, so they prescribed something and my brother went and picked it up. It was a patch. We placed it on the outside of her neck as instructed, the rattling stopped. Once we felt she was breathing okay, we went back to bed. The nurse had to leave at 8am, but the other one was running late so when I got up the night nurse was still there. She told me she was breathing okay and that she had giving her a sponge bath and changed her top. She seemed peaceful, so I went back to bed for just a bit and when the new nurse came around 10 or so I was up again. She looked at my Mom's breathing and she said "I don't like this, I don't like this at all". I had heard this before as many nurses said that because they didn't really knew Mom's background with COPD so her breathing was always irregular. Although, now that I think about it, her breathing was really shallow and very slow. I had given her a kiss and a "good morning" as I always did. But when I sat next to her I guess I just knew that something was not right. The nurse was right, her breathing was not right at all. She took slow breaths and I can see her neck pulsating ever so slowly. I left the room and woke up my son, I told him "Richard, I think it's time and you should go say your goodbye." He was up really quick and went into the room. I'm not sure if I stayed behind for some reason or I was just sitting thinking, I don't know but he went into her room and came back just as fast and told me with his look that she was gone. I don't know why I didn't stay there, I don't know why I didn't held her hand I don't understand why I left the room. I asked this of myself over and over again and I think she should have felt the warmth of my hand when she left so she knew she wasn't alone. I feel guilty about this. I questioned myself about what I did all the time. I don't know if God does have a plan and he felt it would have been too much for me to see her take her last breath. I don't know.


Please keep the signs of your loved one in mind, if she says and feels anxious because they feel they have someplace to go. It is a sign! And don't forget to always tell them you love them and thank them for what they've done for you. Ask, if you can if there's anyone in particular they want to see. Try and make it happen, even if it's a phone call. My mother wanted to see her sister one last time, we had a call via Skype. So they actually did see each other. God bless you all caregivers and be strong and patient.

66 Comments

First let me say as the tears run down my face I am so sorry for your loss and I am my mother's full time caregiver and I know that what you went through that one day I will have to do the same. I do think God know what we can and cannot handle, also I know for sure that when it is a persons time they know it as my dad told my mom, it is time, she held his hand and read the bible as he passed, his mother who had a stroke, was in the hospital, mom had gone to see her a 4 hour ride, grandma seemed to be doing ok, she told her she had seen grandpa who now had been gone for 30 years, mom wanted to stay at the hospital but her mother told her she was fine and to go home, so mom drove 4 hours home, as he walked into the house the phone rang and the doctor said she was gone, she was 90, I know grandma knew it was time and did not want her daughter to have to go through this. still the tears are running down my face for you, please don't feel quilty at all, your mom knew you loved her and God decided that was more than you could handle, your mom is now an angel watching over you and one day you both with be united, many prayers and hugs.
Hispagirl: You did a fine job for your mama. You were there for her-- not physically in the same space at the time, but your care and consideration in getting the rest of the family to her was proof. Along with that, your consideration of her walk to the end and trying to make that pleasant. Don't disrespect her & yourself by dwelling on small details that mean little. I think she was okay with your son there-- she probably knew she had already said goodbye to you.
My mom's last walk took over a month; the final being over four days, with the absolute ending taking about 14 hours.
We never really & completely know when-- we do our best to help our loved ones walk to the end-- and no path is perfect.
Remember all you did for her and know that she is grateful and will eternally be so.
Also know that she understands everything now; and so knows how hard it was for you-- and does not want you to have regret.
I do think the hospice "timelines" are helpful, but it's hard to tell where someone is on that timeline. One cannot, for days, weeks, or months, stay in a chair by the bedside without respite. That is not good for anyone-- least of all the dying since they will usually feel guilty about that; or they may even be unaware.
In that last walk they are making their peace with their Creator to return Home. They don't need us as much as we may think; at that point it is out of our hands.
Again: remember the good you did for your mom-- and let her go on to her Reward loving you for it.
Peace to you, Dear.
Anamaya
Hello - I'm sorry for your loss and I have a personal story that I hope will comfort you. I've seen this happen more than once, but I'll just share one case so I won't wear you out reading. I was a Hospice patient volunteer for years and my very first patient was a young woman with MS. By the time I met her, she was bedbound and twisted into a posture she couldn't change. She could no longer speak and was in a nursing home. Her only pleasure was smoking so I would get her into one of those "chairs" and wheel her outside, then light and hold her cigarette for her. Before too long she couldn't control her head enough to even draw on the cigarette, so became completely confined to bed. I couldn't even get her outside for fresh air. Her husband had abandoned her when her disease progressed rapidly, but she had a devoted mother who came almost every day and two sisters who came as often as possible, although they both worked in a manufacturing plant in a nearby town so they could not come as often as the mother. I went almost every day after work and became very fond of her even though we couldn't really communicate. I found out she had loved Star Trek when she was young so I brought in a television and got tapes of Star Trek episodes from the library. She loved that. Her mother played lots of religious music for her and I soon could see it was not what she wanted to hear (she could roll her eyes very well when not happy!). I asked her mom what music she'd liked as a girl and her mother said she remembered her liking Stevie Wonder. The night before she died she had been officially in a coma for a couple of days, and I had offered to stay up with her so her mother could go home and rest. When I put on the Stevie Wonder music, she smiled - even through a coma, she could hear that music. The next day her mom called me at work and said my patient was slipping away - I drove as fast as I could, but I was 20 miles away and she had gone just before I arrived. Her sisters were inconsolable because they had stepped outside to smoke and while they were outside when their sister died. I thought about it and told them this - Sharon loved to smoke and I believe with all my heart that her spirit went outside with them so she could share that last moment with them. If she had been able, that's where she would have been - they thought about it for a while and after a week or so, they got in touch and said they had come to believe the same thing. I believe you hit the nail on the head, too, when you said that your mother, or God, wanted to spare you the sight of her last breath, in case it would be upsetting for you. I assure you, your mother did not feel alone - you had been there for her and she knew it. I think she was with you when she passed, no matter where you were. Again, my heart aches for you, but don't spend any of your grief on guilt. Your mother loves you still and always will.
So sorry for the final loss, it is so very hard. Please do not feel guilty, you have had enough of that. I believe at least for today, that things do happen for a reason. Your son was meant to send her off, let it go and be at peace. You have done all that you can, now you need to take care of yourself and your son. Sometimes we will know why, sometimes we won't but it is all as it should be.
I'm so sorry for the loss of your Mom and thank you for sharing your story. You did a wonderful job caring for her and giving her what she needed to finish her journey. Your story gave me comfort. My father passed away in August, he seemed ok one night then the next day, he was congested and had sores in his mouth. I have felt bad that I missed something that caused his mouth to be so painful, he wouldn't let the nurses do anything for it. It was probably thrush, as you mentioned. He was not eating either.
We had a nice visit with him that day, the next day he was not talking. We thought we could step out for a quick lunch and told him we loved him and we would be right back. He passed moments after we left the room. At first I felt like we shouldn't have left, we should have been there, but after thinking about it, it seemed like something he would do to spare us.
You should not feel guilty, be at peace knowing you were there when she needed you.
Sweety, I just read your 24 hrs. w/Mom. Very touching. You mentioned you did not go back in there with your son. You also mentioned that she kept telling you to go. I lost my mother a year ago and I was not there when she passed. I believe it was because I do not think I would have been strong enough to watch my mother leave this world. Also, the day before she passed I was with her and while she was very out of it because of morphine and I feel, beginning her journey to God, I whispered to her that I would be okay and said some personal things that I knew she needed to hear. I believe my mother did not want her children to see her pass, she also told us to go home and get rest before she became unable to say so. She knew the end was near. Maybe thats why your Mother told you to go. Stay strong and know she is in a wonderful place now and happier than us on earth will ever know. God Bless you hun.
It is our loss; for our loved one it is often a release. I almost slept through my mom's passing--from exhaustion of being by her side and caring for her through the night. The helper (a wonderful woman) arrived early and sent me to bed but just as quickly called me back so I could be with my mom. We do need others to assist us in all the duties of caring. Bless the helpers.
Thanks for sharing your story. It's a great reminder that each moment is so very precious. My deepest sympathy to you and your son on your loss.
What lovely (although very sad) heartwarming stories. I also feel guilty that I wasn't there when my lovely dad died. He was taken to hospital with pneumonia and the hospital phoned my daughter who lives near the hospital to get there quickly as he'd had a respitory arrest - My daughter phoned me to get there as quickly as possible but as I live 50 miles away it took me some time to get there. As I pulled into the hospital car park my daughter was waiting at the hospital entrance and told me dad had died 10 minutes ago. It was 3.00am in the morning. She said she told him just before he died that I was on my way. I always wonder if he 'let himself go' before I could see him as he knew how sensitive I am. I do miss him. God bless you all.
thanks for sharing this... what a powerful story.... I was not with my dad when he passed and we knew it was coming soon...but my sister had just come in town with her 2 adult children...I took my mom home from the hospital as she needed some one to care for her... she and I said our goodbyes about midnight and i opted to let my sister and her kids stay the night with him...I had been his caregiver for 4 years and we had had wonderful and not so wonderful times together. I knew my sister needed the time so I took care of our mother. My nephew called me the next morning about 7...my dad was passing and I stayed on the phone while listening to them pray over him.... I felt as close as I possibly could be but still - a few times- I looked back and wished I had stayed with him....

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