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When Death is Healing

There comes a time when there is nothing more to fix in the human body.

There are no more supplements to take.

There is nothing left to do.

I met that time over the holidays…

On Wednesday, December 16th at 9:15PM my mom died here in our home, and I want to tell you about it.

She turned 80 years of age at the end of October. Shortly after the presidential election, she couldn’t walk up the stairs any more. This meant that she couldn’t join us for meals or movies or do her laundry. We didn’t know if this was temporary or permanent, so we watched and waited. But we already started to miss her.

She would slowly move downstairs in her living area from her bed to her reclining chair to her kitchen to her bathroom using her walker. Then, it was her bed to her chair. Bowel incontinence set it, and she decided it was too hard to get to her bed.

She slept all the time: 10-12 hours at night with a 2-3 hour morning nap and afternoon nap.

My son Drake wouldn’t come to breakfast one morning. We were frustrated until we saw him crying in his room and he said, “Baba, can’t tell me stories anymore. Who’s going to tell me stories?”

I said, “You’re right. She can’t. I’m sorry.” He was sad.

I knew what was happening. My mom was dying.

I had learned that if we didn’t call hospice and mom died, the authorities could take her away for an autopsy. That wasn’t going to work for us so I called hospice, and one angel after another came through our doors walking us through this mysterious process of death.

In talking with some people in my life, a few of them couldn't figure out why I called hospice, as if I was inviting death or something. But I knew what I was doing and wanted to be prepared and supported. Hospice said that on average people call them 17 days before their loved ones died. In other words, not soon enough. They thanked me for calling when I did.

The medical doctor, one of the gentlest souls I have ever met, diagnosed her with cerebral atherosclerosis. When I asked him why he decided to be in hospice care, he said that it was "the best part of medicine." Over and over again, they kept telling her that she was in the driver’s seat. She got to call the shots. This felt good, and we continued to take care of her.

We ch