On this day: 2012

On the 14th of march, 2012, my Mum died.
Since suffering a series of strokes, she had been in a virtual coma for some time. The hospital put her on to the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’, which involves removing food and water, and ‘allowing’ someone to die of natural causes, when they are beyond all other help. She was monitored, washed and turned, and her lips were moistened with a solution, to spare her the worst ravages of thirst.

As it had always been her wish not to be kept alive by machines, or to spend an age on life support systems, I readily agreed to this at the outset, expecting it would all be over very quickly. I had no idea then how it would drag on, how her weak body would cling on to the slightest vestige of life, and fight to survive. Visiting her every day to watch her groan and suffer was almost more than I could bear. I pleaded with the doctors to give her something to drink, and perhaps to feed her through a tube. But they had commenced their ‘Care Plan’, and there was no going back.

I began to dread walking into her small side room, knowing what I was about to witness. She had no idea I was there, but she still writhed around in the bed, made horrible noises, and pointed to her mouth. I felt completely helpless, as well as being ridden with guilt for agreeing to it. That last day, I returned home to my Camden flat after the visit. The nurses had been very kind to both Mum, and to me. When one of them rang me very late to tell me she had gone, I felt relieved, for her and also for myself. That is a day I will not forget. And I will never forget my Mum either.

Rest in peace, Mum. You will always be remembered.

.

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35 thoughts on “On this day: 2012

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’m sure people don’t realise when they decide they want all care withdrawn in the future what it might mean (and what the experience might be like for those close to them). I’ve heard debates on what is active treatment and not, but theory is not the same as when it affect someone you know. After suffering with his cancer treatment, my father went very quickly (and luckily, I think, was unconscious towards the end). It’s good you have joyful memories to remember her by.

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    1. Thanks, Olga. You have understood exactly. The wishes of the dying can bring untold worry and guilt to those observing the process. It is a difficult time, for all involved.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. “…she still writhed around in the bed, made horrible noises, and pointed to her mouth.” I don’t want to distress you further, but when I read that, and considering your mother was in a “virtual coma,” I wondered if perhaps she did know you were there, and she was trying to tell you she couldn’t speak. If this were the case, it would be both heartening and infinitely sadder. As for the writhing, your mother was indeed clinging to life, which means that at least at a subconscious level she knew her life was nearing the end. Reading your post made me think of my grandparents, whose final hours were similarly horrific. I’m so sorry you had to go through such an ordeal with your mother. Mine is still living, but your post reminds me of (to misquote Shakespeare) “what nightmares may come.”

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    1. Thanks, David. I believe that my Mum was raging from thirst, and almost certainly was unaware of my presence. It came into my mind yesterday, when I would have preferred to have been thinking of nicer things, on the anniversary of her death. I am very sorry to hear that your grandparents suffered a similar fate.
      I always think of the irony, that so-called ‘mercy killing’ is against the law, but allowing a death by suffering is completely legal.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. My Mom passed away eight years ago on March 9th. She was in hospice for the last three and a half weeks of her life, but they made her very comfortable for her passing. I can’t imagine the heartache you suffered through the process your Mom went through. So sorry for your loss Pete.

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  4. I’m sorry for your loss, Pete. Seems like a painful way to go. I’m visiting my dad right now; he’s not expected to live out the year. It’s so sad to see him disintegrate. My deepest condolences.

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    1. Thanks, Cindy. They assured me that she wasn’t aware of her suffering, but that is hard to believe when you are watching it. I hope that your poor dad doesn’t have to suffer too much.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. I’m so terribly sorry Pete for what you and your Mum went through. Tim sounds like you did the best a loving son could do. My Dad died on May 18th, 1982 after a 6 month battle with a brain tumor that left him not only in tremendous pain, but also robbed him of all his dignity. I was 16 years old at the time and he was my best friend. I still miss him dreadfully after all these years and every year on the anniversary of his death I think about what life would have been like if this amazing man had lived. You have my deepest sympathy and I’m sending you virtual hugs.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your own troubles, Kim, and for your heartfelt and very kind words. Mum wouldn’t have wanted me to dwell on things, I know, but at this time of year, and on her birthday in July, I naturally call them to mind more than at other times.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

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  6. I remember you posting about this before. Sounds such a brutal ‘care’ and I’m sure a lot of the time it is harder for the relatives watching the process. A sad and painful time. My thoughts are with you Pete.

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  7. I remember you talked about this before Pete and having lost my own Mum and more recently my sister I can’t help but feel emotional when you write as you do. My sister said that it’s the peoples that are left behind who suffer the most and of course she was right. Thankfully my good memories of them both are on my mind more often than the final days that I had with them.

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    1. This was a personal thing, GP, something I promised myself to do. Although I publicised it on my blog, that was mainly to alert people about the reality of ‘The Liverpool Pathway’, which still goes on.
      Many thanks, and best wishes, Pete.

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  8. A truly ‘one of a kind’ lady. Held in the the highest regard by anyone whose life she touched. A generation, the likes of which, that will never be replicated. Thoughts with you always but especially more on this day of days. Terry

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    1. Thanks for your kind words and thoughts, Terry. It was two days before my birthday, and one week before I left work, and retired to Norfolk. It was as if she knew…
      Love to all the family. Pete.x

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  9. I am so sorry for your lost my mom past away one year and half ago from illness my mom didn’t want to be on life support so we had to let her go and rest in peace

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