Posted by: Kathy | May 16, 2012

When Someone You Love Is Dying

When someone you love is dying, everything changes. Life takes on a different meaning, a different perspective, because you know that at some point in the near future, someone you love dearly isn’t going to be part of your life anymore. There are moments when you can’t breathe, minutes when you can’t think, hours when you are overcome with sadness, and times when you just don’t know what to do. There are times when you’d give anything to prevent the inevitable. I will never forget the day I realized my mom wasn’t going to beat pancreatic cancer and that she was going to die. I will never forget the last night of her life, or the overwhelming fear I felt that was mixed with so many other emotions.

Today it’s been exactly three and a half years since my mom died. The passage of time has lessened the pain of her loss, but there are still moments when I am slammed with the fact that my mom isn’t here anymore and that I will never be able to spend time with her and that she will never see her grandkids grow up. The future has changed and not in a way I want it to be. I can’t see my mom’s beautiful smile, feel her touch, or hear her voice. I miss my mom. Today, I miss her more than usual.

When someone you love is dying, your whole world seems to stop. I felt completely lost, out of control, and helpless after my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When I knew my mom was dying, I would have given anything to save her life. Now I would give anything to be able to spend just another day, another hour, another minute with her. I love you, Mom.



  1. Hi Kathy, thanks for a blog where one can share this harrowing experience of loosing a parent to cancer. Today marks exactly a month since my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. I understand now more than ever how life threatening any life threatening disease can be. My dad has such devastating symptoms and as a result has lost so much weight. It is devastating to my whole being watching my own disappearing like that! I know he is going to pass on, but I am not ready to accept it yet. I do as much as I can for him and my mom as his caregiver. The thought of never seeing him again…too painful! Muriel xxxxooo

    • Hi Muriel: I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. Watching someone you love just disappear before your eyes and there is nothing you can do to stop it is painful and shocking. Your dad will never forget what you’re doing for him, neither will your mom. Even though it’s been 3 and a half years, there are times when I still can’t believe I will never spend time with my mom again. Remember that you are not alone. I wish you all the best during this painful time.Take care.

      • Thanks Kathy your words are so comforting and reassuring.
        All the best with your journey. I live in South Africa. Here we have a notion of UBUNTU that we live by – it means that “a person is a person through others” I find so much resonance in that as we are in different places on this earth, yet facing similar challenges.
        Best Wishes,

  2. Kathy – you worded this perfectly! My mom is currently towards the end of her short fight with lung cancer. I visited her for a period, but now she’s under hospice care and I have to be in another state. Mentally, I’ve already lost my mom, but I feel like I am going to re-lose her all over again when she passes. It’s just an uncomfortable in-between time that I find difficult to explain to people. Bless you for sharing your words!

    • Dawn: I am sorry about your mom. I wish you peace during this time, although I know that peace is something that is hard to find when you know your mom is dying. The time in between when I realized my mom was really going to die and when she did die was filled with fear and uncertainty. I felt lost, and when my mom died I felt the emptiness of her loss from my life. Please know that I understand what you are going through and wish you all the best. Take care.

  3. I’m sorry for your pain. It is 18 months since I lost my mom and I miss her every days. I don’t think there is a time limit on grief for someone you love. I still miss my grandpa and it has been almost 40 years! I think it just shows the impact these loved ones had on our lives. Cherish the memories.

    • Hi. Thanks for visiting my site and leaving a comment. I’m sorry about the loss of your mom. It’s so hard. Even though you know they are gone, the loss is still felt, sometimes very deeply. I still miss my grandparents too. I completely agree with you – the more impact someone makes on your life, the more their loss is felt. Take care.

  4. Kathy…this is one of my favorite posts as it feels so familiar. When we are facing death, we hang on to HOPE for much longer than is reasonable, but I believe it is a beautiful protection against the pain that is coming.

    Watching my mother pass away changed me and still haunts my heart. Like you, I detest how long I have been without her (2 years and 3 months on Sunday).

    I am not sure what acceptance looks or feels like yet. I have good days and bad ones. Grief’s journey is lonely and long.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Every word you write is part of a long love letter to your mother.

    • Angie, so beautifully expressed. We are all lucky to have experienced such love from our mothers and to have had the opportunity to return it, and now, to express it.

    • Thanks Angie. I know I have changed as well because of my mom’s battle with pancreatic cancer and death. I believe I have found acceptance, as I know my mom isn’t coming back, and I accept that she is gone. But the pain of her loss is still there and I truly miss my mom. A long love letter – I like that. Someday, I will finish my book and parts of this blog will be included.

  5. Thanks, Kathy. So do I and everyone tells me it will, so I wait. But yes, there are good days and bad days. I no longer find myself crying every day so that’s an improvement. I still have her clothes in my house and in no rush to dispose of them.

    Loni, you are so right about time merely giving us more experience in coping with our pain rather than lessening the pain of grief. I know I will carry the loss of my mom in some capacity throughout my life now.

    • JC, I hope good days begin to exceed those bad days for you. I so wish I had some of my mother’s things to hold onto, so don’t be in any hurry to part with them until you’re 100% ready. If that time never comes, that’s okay.

      I’m very sorry for your loss. Hugs to you, too.

      • Thanks, Loni. I don’t plan to get rid of anything until I am ready. And sorry for your loss. It’s just never easy losing your mother.

      • JC, I agree with Loni and what you said – you don’t need to get rid of anything until you are ready to. I have a lot of my mom’s clothes and jewelry. I also have a lot of things my mom gave to the kids, a special outfit they no longer fit into or a toy that they really liked. I will always keep these things, as they are reminders of my mom and her love.

  6. This is another lovely post. Again, I’m so sorry.

    Personally, I’ve found that time really doesn’t lessen the pain of grief. There are moments, even 15+ years later, that I miss my mother so much that I can’t even begin to comprehend it. I think the only thing time really does is give us more experience in coping with that pain.

    Big hugs.

    • Thanks Loni. I think that the loss of a parent or someone we love deeply creates a grief that always lurks under the surface. For me, there are things that trigger this grief and my heart aches for my mom, or there are days when I feel her loss more deeply. I really miss my mom right now. I agree with you that time gives us more experience to cope with the pain of loss. Take care.

  7. Wow, Kathy. Your loss is still so palpable. And it’s so close to home for me. It’s only been three months and I feel every inch of your loss and pain. Funny though, while my mom was in hospice, death was never a constant in my mind. I thought she was going to be one of those who would rally. I was probably would come in a couple of days. And when it came, it came hard. I never had any pre-thoughts of what life would be without her. And now that it is, I definitely feel lost. Like myself, you seem to have had a very close relationship with your mom, and I think that’s what makes it even harder.

    • With a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, death was always my fear. But my mom fought very hard to beat this disease and we held onto hope. I never knew how much of an impact my mom made on my life until she was gone. Most days I don’t feel her loss as deeply as I do today. There’s a lot going on right now. I hope your journey of grief gets easier.

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