It’s Saturday today. On Tuesday my Mum had a massive stroke. On Thursday at 00:18 she died - exactly 12 months to the day after moving into residential aged care.
I was with her the first day of her stroke all day and slept in her room that night listening to her struggling to breathe. They got her on morphine pretty quickly - but anyone who talks about palliative care keeping the dying ‘comfortable’ hasn’t had the same experience I have.
My sister stayed over the next night because I needed sleep. Mum died at 18 minutes past midnight.
I was there the next morning.
I don’t know what to feel yet. I think I know what I’m supposed to feel - but I just feel empty and angry. Angry?
Her death and dying was horrific and ugly. For her it was frightening, painful, humiliating, hideous. She suffered. She didn’t die peacefully - that’s just what I told family members who weren’t there.
When I saw her body the morning after she died, I finally understood the meaning of the word ‘corpse’. It was awful.
I can’t wrap my head around all of this and there’s been no time to figure out what I feel. We had to deal with the funeral home, pack up her room at the nursing home, try to look after my 98 year old Dad - who’d lost his love and companion of 85 years. I’m so tired my body aches but I can’t sleep. Food doesn’t appeal at all and most of the time I feel sick.
I haven’t cried yet. My throat is choked with a hard lump and my head is tight with ache. My eyes are sore. I can’t concentrate and I’m going around in an autopilot daze. I feel empty and lost.
I want to cry and grieve for my Mum - but I feel like I can’t. Like I’m stuck in a cruel limbo where the images of her final suffering and her corpse haunt my waking moments.
I have a loving and supportive partner, sister, brother, and friend - but it doesn’t help. She’s gone and she’s been there for every day of my 54 year old life.
The brutal truth of her death is something that I can’t talk about with most people. I just listen to their well meaning words and remember my own difficulty on similar occasions in knowing what to say. I now know there are no’ right’ words. Or at least that I haven’t heard anything that has really gotten through to me.
Though I have support - I still feel alone.
Alone and tetherless.