Nearing Death Awareness

Nearing Death Awareness is the technical term for what is now happening to my mom. While it is true that there are times she is experiencing hallucinations caused by the medications, these are generally characterized by alterations of things that are real, and seem to be accompanied by a glassy-ness, or an opaque quality to her eyes and words that are slurred. Med related distortions involve; talking about contests rather than concerts, confusion about what is or isn’t happening during the day, or word mishaps – looking for pills rather than the remote, or asking me if I see the bunny rabbits or birds nests. They are generally related to something real.

Then there are the in between experiences like the night before last, when she woke up telling me she was hearing rain and asked if I could hear it. I didn’t hear anything, but realizing she was not unhappy or anxious I offered to take her to the open window so we could look. It was not raining. My mother is quite deaf without her hearing aids, so I chocked it up to one of the above and went back to my room. At five in the morning when I took the dogs out, it had clearly rained during the night.

The nearing death awareness that I speak of, are clearly moments when something far more mysterious and exciting is occurring. The air becomes electrically charged, and in response to the clearer resonance of her voice, my own pupils dilate. This is accompanied by a sensation I can only describe as my skin becoming alert.

These experiences seem to come in small waves. A smile will come over her face, and she will open far away darkly emerald eyes asking me things like, did I see the girls pass through or my father, she asks for maps and talks of schedules. Often it seems she is trying to tell me something important like; “people struggle for the almighty dollar, and things that are wrong – they can’t see the bright lights”.  While petting and talking to Molly – “You are going to be all pretty again, when you go home be sure to tell your mother”. When I was sad she told me “sometimes you just have to cry it out, and then when you are all cried out, you think – what a dope I was to think that was such a big deal” and my absolute favorite so far – “you’re going to be famous someday, I just know it. I feel it in my bones – I’m just sorry I won’t get to see it. You gotta feel something about knowing the truth about yourself – how loved you are. I think you are getting smarter. I think someday the people that didn’t understand you will. They were never smart enough to know what a good friend you are – they just take with two hands. I heard all the people in the world saying they loved you.”

There are other sadder times when she is far away with her mouth open, and thin purple eyelids veil her eyes. When this happens, now for longer and longer periods of time,  I want so badly to wake her up. To bring her back from wherever she is drifting. I want to have more conversations about love, life, us, anything.

Instead I concentrate on creating a sense of order and normalcy through tasks like ironing, or cleaning. At these times I sense a presence as the house is humming with everyday life even as the spirits gather. The dogs take turns sleeping by her side.

On Sunday in an effort to provide some comfort for us both, I baked her favorite cookie from childhood so the house would smell like it did every Friday afternoon of her growing up. My mother who had not eaten for two days, ate two of the cookies and a small dish of her favorite mocha almond ice cream. She ate one more yesterday, but today only two bites.

It is important to let her be as long as she is safe, and trust the process. I open wider to the mystery unfolding before me and ride the waves of the tide, with my breath fully engaged.

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51 thoughts on “Nearing Death Awareness

  1. What a touching picture of you and your mom, Beth. I am so glad to be a small part of your “village”. Thank you for sharing all of your emotions. You are both always in my heart.

    • I too am very glad you are included in mom’s circle of care. It is a very emotional time, but just I promised when my face was treated, this too requires a transparent process with witnesses so I am trying to remain true to that promise. Thank you for keeping us in your heart. much love, z

  2. You honor us all with you honesty. We are privileged to be allowed into your heart and home at this special time. Thank you. With all my love, Deborah

  3. So moving Beth. The pictures are very real. Marcia is looking older, is she on oxygen all the time? How sweet to make her favorite cookies. At least she is eating some. You are such a patient witness to her journey, I am always learning through you. So glad you are writing.

    • So far not on oxygen full time, mostly in the morning and late afternoon. She had a Reiki treatment a while ago, and was quite agitated as the practitioner came into the house. She has been peacefully sleeping since then and her face looks more relaxed. As for the writing – I can think of no better way to express what is happening.

  4. I loved the pictures and information Beth. With you we learn gradually to progress in this slow-paced world at times. You teach the life lasting lessons. Thank you so much.
    Love,
    -Naima.

  5. Dear Beth, thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey with your Mom. This is really very special. The realationship and caring are special and something most people wouldn’t recognize as the life treasure that it is.

  6. I am reading your posts with abundant amazement, some anticipation, and much sadness. Your ability to face the inevitable realistically, gently, and courageously is admirable, Beth. You are a loving person and a devoted daughter.

  7. I am reading your posts with some anticipation, much amazement, and abundant sadness. Your ability to face the inevitable courageously, gently, and realistically is admirable, Beth. You are truly a loving person and devoted daughter.
    Love, Gale

  8. Beth your moving experiences has shown me the true meaning of life as I along with everyone else follow you on this journey. I have truly learned a lot more that I ever thought I would. Thank you so much for sharing. My heart, thoughts and prayers go to you and your mom.

    • Wow Ron, I don’t even know how to respond to that. I didn’t set out to do any of this, merely to have a way to process what was happening and to have witnesses because the experience in some was initially so isolating. Now, all I can say is I feel surrounded by love in every direction and it is magnificent.

  9. Beth
    I feel your pain and joy. Your mom is more aware than she may seem. You are going to be famous…look at your blog! You are in the process of documenting what most people are afraid to talk about. You are in discovery mode and though it can be upsetting and painful at times you are doing a wonderful thing that most people never get to do. You will continue to write and help others Beth..its in your blood. Friends help friends…count on it! Chin up and continue forward. Your mom is in really loving and good hands! Cheering in NC!
    Wonderful pix of Cirque Du Soleil

    • Bob, You made me cry, you made me laugh, isn’t this what you have always done? You are a wonderful friend and I have missed knowing you all these years. I am so happy that you are finding joy and love in your life again. Thank you for validating me as both a caregiver and a human being, it is indeed a place of honor to be here at this time.

  10. Wonderful post. For you to be able to write and record the process, is to give it and your mom honour, and us awarenss and understanding about how we can spend the time we have, be as it may, cherishing and caring.

    • EllaDee, this is very heartwarming to read. It is such a life altering experience to be present here in this way. In the posts up until this past month mom had first approval over every item. To this day she maintains that she wants our journey to help others and is ok with the images I share. Even though she no longer contributes to the writing directly, I still read her every post and comment that is made. I hope with grace to continue to document our experience with authenticity and care. Blessings to you.

  11. I really did love reading this. For so many this week was particularly emotional as deaths so often happen with no warning. To see the peaceful transition for you and your Mom really gives hope to the process of life, that it is loving and kind. Beth I hope through it all, you can wrap yourself in a Hug and ‘feel the hugs’ your Mom has always shared with you. Thank you so for writing and sharing this very personal space. xo Namaste Karen

    • Thank you Karen, I do, I do feel the hugs and they are much appreciated. It is wonderful to have this counterpoint to the other kind of passing. So many moments right now I try to remind myself – of times I must have tried her patience, refused meds, had temper tantrums, or insisted on doing something myself that wasn’t entirely safe. Although it is harder to be in this role crossing the natural intergenerational boundary, while loving and forgiving myself all the while. blessings and peace to you.

  12. Beth, Although this is so understandably sad for you, you really conveyed the sense of peace your mother is feeling. Our generation is so out of focus with the concept of death, which makes us all the more afraid of it. Your entry today actually gave me hope that it can be a beautiful experience. I hope your mother isn’t suffering, and I’m thinking about you both all the time. I recently saw a movie, “The Descendants,” in which was said “Sometimes the brightest light comes out of the darkest places.” I think this is true in many cases and think it will be in yours. love, Pam

    • Thanks Pam, I too see the brightest light coming out of dark places, both are necessary and can not exist without each other. It is beautiful and it is hard and we are doing what needs to be done in the most loving and gentle way possible. I think when all is said and done, I will either need to sleep for a week or row a marathon, but all this is yet to be revealed. I am glad to have you along for the ride. Blessings to you, and your family.

  13. Bethie,
    Alysa and I are in Ottawa this week at a conference on the Physiology of Mind and Consciousness. And your Mom’s consciousness is expanding out into the cosmos as she prepares to leave her body behind. The gift of her life, and her gift of you to this world will be shared by all. You are loved dear Beth, and you are already famous in the realms where it really matters!
    Blessings on you both!

  14. My very favorite Aunt died this week of lung cancer. I find myself at odds with what and how this has happened to her as she was not a smoker-ever. So many people loved her. I see that love between you and your Mother. I felt the same for my Aunt who in many ways raised me growing up and taught me so much. I am so happy that you are able to have this time with your Mother and can embrace every day and accept what is happening in such a graceful way. You are an angel on earth and are getting your Mom ready for heaven. No finer way to say “I love you” than that.

    • Oh Becky I am saddened by the loss of your auntie. Sometimes there are no answers only questions and it seems the cruelest of mysteries. How wonderful that she was filled with so much love at the time of her passing. I think that is the highest of compliments as to what we have accomplished in this life.

      I too feel the joy, mixed with the sadness of having this time to honor my mom with tenderness. I realized last night, when I was trying to calm her after a bad patch that I have little memory of having kissed her so much as I have these last few months. It is the great work of life to recognize the abundance of love in one’s life.

      May you find comfort and rest in this difficult time. Beth

  15. Blessings to you and your momma on your journey. I was hoping my mom would be communicative during her transition, but she wasn’t. Cherish the little jewels your mom shares in glimpsing the other side :)

    • Kathryn, Thank you so much for such tenderness. I see the communication is receding and am awestruck when the jewels you speak of, which were so plentiful even a couple of days ago have begun to come less frequently now still surprise me. All the more sweet to my ear when she tells me I love you so much, even through eyes that are closed. I would love to hear more about what you did experience with your mom, and maybe there is more on your blog, if so, I apologize I am not able to get much reading done right now. Do look forward to catching up on all your great words soon… but not too soon.

  16. Beth, your mother is lucky to have you there taking care of her. I can feel the love you have for her in your writing…so moving!!

    • Thanks Kenna, that is very kind. I so need these reminders right now as the moment by moment becomes more physically demanding. It is a good thing I spent the past year finding my core ‘cuz it sure is getting a workout now. It seems like a very long time ago and far far away when the best part of my day was driving to Pilates and seeing you all.

  17. beth, thank you for taking the time to record these impressions, memories, and experiences. I feel like I now have some frames of referencefor death, its processes, and how love plays through the journey. i didn’t know these things before, and they will shape my future…love you, s

  18. I am humbled at the touching post of the near end relationship between you and your mother with wonderful photos to boost. My late mother in law was saying on her death bed that she saw her mother callng out to her and so wanted to go and join her

  19. Amazing, your description of this nearing death awareness… That you are open to the mysteries within the time of dying that are not dark and troubling is remarkable. I am glad to join this little village!

    • Mindy, thank you so much. It was a beautiful night, mom was agitated at times, yet surrounded by people who love her. There was candlelight and music and in the light of the day, she seems a bit more peaceful. It is great to have another witness to our transformation. with gratitude. Beth

  20. Beth, such wonderful gifts you are giving each other – and those of us who are following your journey! My “end of life” time with my Mom was very short – but I am grateful to have had the experience.

  21. Pingback: You May Have Noticed | middlescapes

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