In Her Time of Dying: Reflections on the Day

December 27th, 2011

We came up with a loose plan of action for funeral/cremation arrangements. I called several places locally to get rates, and am shocked at the cost of death. One place I called had a rate of nearly $3,500 for a cremation alone. No memorial service, no burial, no minister – just converting my mother’s body to ashes and sticking her in a case. It’s almost disgusting how outrageous the prices are. One can’t help but feel that the death industry preys on grieving people and takes advantage by charging high prices that mourning families don’t know any better but to pay.

Anyway. My brother and I stepped out for a little while for a coffee break and to talk with extended family members in regards to the upcoming plans. It has been essential to both of us to get away from the unit; to interact with families who are not going through the stages of grief and to feel somewhat normal. We talked about wedding plans, – I failed to mention that the day my brother came down here he proposed to his girlfriend! – had coffee, joked, and then got down to the business of calling funeral homes and our family members.

I am angry, annoyed, and agitated that my mother was in so much denial about her health that she avoided making these types of decisions and plans for herself while she was able. It’s not like the subject wasn’t broached; both my brother and I suggested getting her plans started even before she fell ill and my brother in particular was met with vehement hostility. Now, he and I and her partner Ellen are left scrambling to make plans by what we think her final wishes were. We have no idea what that is, so all we can do it guess based on what we knew of her. It’s a little easier for Ellen and my brother because they knew her better than I. Ellen was with her for the last nine years of her life, and Drew (brother) had more good years in his childhood than I did. I got about eight years before our family unit began to disintegrate and I literally have to dig and delve to find good memories of my mom that aren’t tainted and shadowed by bad ones.

As we walked back through the hospital we talked, we rounded that corner I’ve spoken so much about and the hospice unit doors came into sight, I found myself chilled by the cold reality of our situation once more. I wonder if it will ever feel less shocking? If after a nice break, the return to the hospice unit won’t feel quite so heavy?

I miss my husband and my daughter. I’ve been going home each night to sleep, because I can’t stay here overnight. That is my limit. I have to be home in my bed with them and I’ve felt some guilt about that, but at the same time I just cannot stay here. I’m going back to work tomorrow (not sure how useful I will be) after almost a week in crisis mode and it’s going to be very strange to not be around respirators, oxygen masks, and the feeling of death engulfing me in a strange and morbid embrace. My coworkers and bosses have been amazing, offering support, lunch, coffee, and the most important and helpful; schedule flexibility and freeing me from the burden of having to worry about my hours and pay.

Josh (my husband) has been feeling helpless, I know. He hasn’t been here much with me, instead he’s been caring for our curly-headed tot and honestly that is where I need him. Nellie knows something is up and misses me. I know she does. I would be considerably more stressed and worried if he were not there and she was worrying about his absence as well. I feel very strongly that I need her daddy there. I may feel differently if my brother has to go home to Milwaukee before all of this is over, but for now he and I have each other to lean on… I still go home each night and vent, talk, and sometimes cry to Josh. He has been an amazing support, whether he realizes it or not.

I know I’ve already posted once today but I had the opportunity to kind of sit and reflect with my thoughts the events of this day, and I felt compelled to post again. I’m not sure what the evening brings.. I’ve been keeping the ringer on my phone up and expecting THAT call each and every night. I am surprised with each dawn that comes and my mother is still alive. I know that soon, I will wake and she won’t be here.

We’ll deal with that when we come to it.


  1. I’m sorry to read all that you are going through right now! My thoughts and prayers are with you. I respect your putting the negative feelings on the back shelf and dealing right now! My mom passed 9 years ago and as I read your pain I feel like I am back in my mother’s hospital room. As I sit here I can almost smell it!

    I pray you get through this in your own way but I will send good thoughts and prayers during this journey!



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