Posted by: Kathy | May 25, 2009

That Last Night

The final night of my mom’s life still haunts me from time to time. Less now than when she first died. It was a sleepless night of mixed emotions, and a time when I felt completely helpless.

I’ve never talked openly about the last night of my mom’s life, even with close friends. It’s one of those things that I can write about, but don’t want to talk about. So many emotions filled that night as I laid in my parents’ bed listening to my mom in the chair a few feet away from me.

For my son, that day was one of great accomplishment as he passed his testing and earned his black belt. I was so proud of him, so happy for him, and really glad that all his hard work had paid off. But surrounding the happiness of that day was a deep-seated sadness because I knew my mom was dying and probably didn’t have much longer with us.

I always said that I wanted to be with my mom when she died. On the night of November 15, 2008, I listened closely to my mom’s breathing and one of the strongest emotions I felt was fear. I was scared that my mom would die that night in my presence, while I was alone in the room with her, and I honestly didn’t know how I’d handle it if she did.

I felt so helpless. I knew my mom was in pain, but wasn’t sure how bad it was. I’d hear the PCA pump give her a dose of morphine and I wondered if it was enough. I hit the extra dose button once because my mom seemed agitated and I didn’t know if it had to do with her pain. I worried that she wasn’t warm enough since her hands kept jerking and the blankets kept falling off.

While I was lying there I wondered if my mom was sleeping, and if she wasn’t asleep, what kind of thoughts were going through her mind. In those final days, my mom seemed confused much of the time, but there were moments when I knew she was completely with us. During that final night, was she there with me? Was she thinking about dying? Was she scared?

By that time, the cancer had completely taken over my mom’s body. She was unable to lift her head, her body all bent over. It’s a painful image to remember and I was at a complete loss because there was nothing I could do for my mom to make things better for her.

It is my hope that during that night my mom wasn’t really there. It is my hope that God, who I know is merciful, had already taken my mom’s soul and she was at peace in Heaven.


  1. My dad died at 6:00 a.m. sharp on October 18, 2012. I had that same fear each night as I stayed alone with him at hospice. I was so tuned into his breath. Every change. When his breathing changed that morning, it woke me. I was frightened and ran to get the nurse. But I settled down. I knew this was it. These were his last gasping breaths. And then his heartbeat faded away. I didn’t crumble as I expected. I felt something entirely different. For the first time in a long time, I felt there is something beyond death. Just as he passed, I had, for a moment in time, a glimpse.

    • I’m sorry you lost your dad. I wasn’t with my mom when she died. I said I wanted to be, but I think she knew how scared I was to be there when she took her last breath. But she not alone – her husband of 43 years was with her – and she died at home, where she wanted to be. When my mom first passed, I felt a sense of peace because I knew she was no longer suffering. I have written several posts on the last night of my mom’s life, I think because it affected me so deeply. Thanks for commenting.

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