No, I’m not doing assisted suicides. I’m helping my friend Rhonda deal with the impending loss of her mother.
Delma is 94 years old. I’ve known her for about 4 years – same length of time I’ve known Rhonda. I’ve visited her every month in those 4 years and come to love them both. Rhonda has an incredible sense of duty and responsibility to her mother. Rhonda has put everything else aside to care for her mother 24/7. While it’s admirable, it’s not healthy. Other relationships have suffered and it will be good for her to be able to have more balance once her mother passes on.
Having had my own mother in my home for the last 5 years of her life, I know it’s tough to carry that responsibility. While I feel like I gave my mother the best I had, there were times when I didn’t think I could endure one more day. Rhonda has always made me wish I had been better.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Rhonda and other family members while they discussed what was best for Delma at this point. She’d already made her own request: let me die but don’t make me suffer.
Delma was transferred from the hospital to complete hospice care later in the day. They promise they’ll do just what she asked. She won’t have to swallow any pills. She won’t receive any antibiotics. She won’t have to endure the sting of a needle or take any tests. No one will hurt her tender bones by making her get up to go to the bathroom or even take a shower. The goal is to make her comfortable, and she’s getting enough morphine to erase the pain.
Family members are making calls and people whose lives she’s touched are coming to express their love and appreciation to her. I’ve learned so much about Delma as a young mother and grandmother. She was fun. She took children in and raised them for whatever time they needed her. Grandkids adored her. I wish I would have known her then. I think we could have had great times together. I’m so appreciative of all of the wonderful stories that have helped paint a picture of the complete person Delma is.
This beautiful woman can’t always respond to the comments and gestures, but I don’t believe the words are wasted. I believe she hears everything going on even if she doesn’t have the strength or ability to say the words her loved ones want to hear.
It’s sad to say goodbye to those we love, but I think it’s rather selfish to try to keep them here when their spirits are ready to fly. I’d like to add my farewell to those of others.
Have a pleasant journey, Delma. I know there are countless others waiting for you on the other side. You will soon be free of that body that has burdened you and held you back for so long.
Note: It’s good to have things in order so the family knows exactly what you want them to do ahead of time. You can help get things started with All They’ll Need to Know as a guide.