More Messages To and From the Dying
In my last post, Messages To and From the Dying, it appeared my mother was receiving tutoring from the other side in preparation for her death.
One day as she gathered her energy to shuffle around the common room, she stood still, stared at me hard and said, “I just need to let go”. Letting go was not how my mother lived. She favored holding on tightly to grudges, pushing though problems, suffering stoically thru pleasant or unpleasant events, and generally living with and creating discomfort. I giggled when she declared this plan and said, “Yes Mom, you can.”. I assumed she was handing out a clue about her death preparations.
In Final Gifts-understanding the special awareness, needs and communications of the dying, Chapter Six, Preparing for Travel or Change, the book speaks about how dying people know they are dying, even if they weren’t told by a physician.” They attempt to share this information by using symbolic language to indicate preparation for a journey or change soon to happen.”
The book spoke about how people delay death because they have something to heal, express, or accomplish before they can pass. When I asked my mother if she felt like she had unfinished business to complete before she died, she said she needed to take care of her younger sister. Her younger sister was 75 years old. I explained that her sister was an adult, meaning she had been taking care of herself for years. I told her about her younger sister’s job, her children, and her home. My mother was understandably confused but didn’t seem frustrated or agitated, a common experience for people with dementia. Given that she was preparing for a journey she had never taken before, thought she had a younger sister to care for, and had dementia she seemed comfortable with our conversation. Her demeanor was of a person who had a to do list to finish. She spoke candidly of her preparation needs.
Final Gifts suggests you help the dying complete their necessary tasks, so I called my aunt and asked her to speak to my mother. I wasn’t sure my mother would understand what was happening, she no longer knew what a phone was and certainly didn’t have a clue what a cell phone was. I could hear my aunt’s voice through the phone although my mother didn’t respond. I have no idea what my aunt said to her sister. My mother seemed calmer after listening to her sister but I’ll never really know how the call impacted her. We never spoke about my aunt again.
When my mother was living her final hours, my aunt, her younger sister, came to visit. My aunt was the last person my mother spent time with before she died. After all of my mother’s careful preparation, I can only assume she felt she had taken care of her younger sister before my mother left her body.