The transition into Mom’s hospice
The grief process has started. My mother went into hospice last week. I am depressed.
I didn’t expect my mourning so soon, if “soon” is an appropriate word. I thought I’d weather the sadness until she died.
It was a Wednesday, and her caregiver called. “It’s time to put her in hospice,” Tapaita said. “She’s forgetting how to swallow.”
We coordinated a doctor’s visit. He approved hospice, and I authorized it.
Since Mom got sick with Alzheimer's – undeniable symptoms surfaced about six years ago – she’s lost nearly 60 pounds. She is 5’5” and 94 pounds.
As I learned, it’s at this point the doctor signs off as her primary care physician, and the hospice’s medical director becomes her physician. Her care becomes about pain management.
The doctor was lovely. We’ve been seeing him for years. He hugged her and said it was an honor to serve her.
He has no prediction on her timeline. The average hospice stay is two to six weeks.
It could be a slow, steady decline as it has been for the last many years. It could be quick if she succumbs to complications like pneumonia.
She is and has always been physically fit and superb in her diet, with no vices, so I am expecting a weeks-long stay. She just seems extremely tired.
I’ve had years to process this, and most of my grief came at her diagnosis in 2013. I cried for a week straight.
Since then, it’s been something I’ve learned to live with, though each time she clearly declines, I go through a degree of sadness: when she stopped walking, when she forgot how to feed herself, when she lost her words.
Processing the idea of my mother going into hospice is a greater shock than I expected. Going through various motions reinforces the reality-- I met with her lawyer to make sure it’s all copacetic; I started funeral plans; my father wants to clean out her closet.
My husband had a trip. He offered to cancel for me, but that is impractical. I urged him to go.
Claus is a bedrock of strength and support. He did research for me before he left, in case she passes during his absence and I have to initiate the mortuary arrangements.
I appreciate his thoughtfulness so much; this is why I love him. It’s still difficult to talk about making funeral plans for my mother, to have to speak the words aloud and know that the time is nearly here.
Most everyone will endure this. If they are lucky, as I have been, they will have a close relationship with their parent. It’s been an honor to shepherd my mother through her final years.
This is the cycle of life, and it’s perfectly fine. Mom has had a long, interesting life. We have many fun and loving memories.
Parent precedes child. The natural order continues.
My grief is normal. It’s uncomfortable, but it, too, is part of the process.
I will just witness it happening and honor the feelings as they come – and feel gratitude that an abundance of love is the reason I grieve.