Since my mother passed several people have asked if my siblings helped take care of her and make funeral arrangements. When they discovered I am an only child they look shocked and say, “You went through all that alone! I’m so sorry!”
While I know these comments are offered in love, I have no idea how to respond. I was not and am not alone. Although my parents were supportive, some things were mine to handle. I learned early how to entertain myself and handle difficult situations.
One advantage of being an only child was that I had no “discussions” with siblings about what Mom would want. She rejected delaying actions such as surgery and chemotherapy. She had a living will and a prepaid funeral and burial. Her wishes were clear.
Family and good friends called or texted me frequently during the two months I was many miles from home. They offered love as well as advice and care packages that brightened those weeks. A special Mother’s Day gift was a video my daughters made of mom’s great-great grandsons.
Other visiting friends provided laughs and comfort. My best friend from our school years still lived in the area. She listened to my woes and shared what she had learned when her dear ones passed.
During the last couple weeks at her apartment three cousins and a volunteer sat with Mom while I went shopping or did laundry. Her neighbors visited and did small favors to make Mom’s last days easier. This support gave me the opportunity to do what needed to be done. My home meditation group supported us through prayers and assurances that life on the other side will be wonderful. Two pastors answered questions about the afterlife. Mom listened while I humbly offered my beliefs about that subject. It seemed to comfort her.
I can never express enough gratitude for the fantastic Hospice staff both at Mom’s apartment and at Hospice House. They listened to my worries and offered comfort as they provided optimal care for Mom. When she breathed her last Earthly breath, they were there with hugs and kind words. They and the funeral directors took care of all the details. All I had to do was to notify family and sort Mom’s belongings, a daunting task.
My school friend went along to make final arrangements. On Memorial Day she made sure I was busy and entertained. Other friends and cousins provided their loving presence and delicious food. My children drove several hundred miles to attend the visitation and funeral. They helped sort Mom’s belongings and gave lots of hugs.
The morning following the funeral my daughters and son-in-law left with the mementos they had selected. The next morning my son left with his car full of chosen items.
Then I felt alone. I couldn’t wait to leave that tiny, empty apartment and be home. The apartment complex manager agreed to handle what was left.
The next morning I hopped into my overstuffed car and headed home. Once here I was able to relax and enjoy hugs from my family and friends. I feel sad that my mother is no longer with us, but I am too surrounded by love to ever feel alone.
© by Sharon Dillon, August 1, 2010