Death and Memories of Life

I think I need to say right at that beginning that I know I am writing this post as a way of trying to find out just how I feel this morning.

A couple of hours I got a call from my daughter in the UK to let me know that my mum had died in hospital during the night: it wasn’t a surprise as Mum fell and broke her hip a couple of weeks ago and needed surgery which is never good when you are 89. A few days ago the hospital let us know that Mum had slipped into a coma and that her organs were about to start failing, so, no big surprise this morning to hear that she had died and I received the news quite quietly, some sadness which I can feel increasing as I write this, but no tears or histrionics from me, no sudden sense of loss or loneliness either. Mum had been afflicted by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia for the last 10 years, or possibly more as this insidious disease doesn’t really announce it’s arrival but builds up gradually from taking away minor items of mental facility such as forgetting where you left something to taking away pretty much everything so that you forget who you are. Looking back there was some point in those 10 years where Mum “died” for me and perhaps that’s why I feel as I now do. The other thing which is, I think, a big contributing factor to my feelings is that it’s now 12 years since I can pinpoint the first time Mum told me she wanted to die. There are lots of times when I can think of hearing people say they wished they were dead, but, generally, that’s just a statement with no real meaning except to express a severe reaction to something, however, with Mum, it was different: she really meant that she wished she could die. Looking back she was, at that point, aware of her diminishing mental facility (though she made sure to cover it up well!) and was clearly aware that she was starting to live a life which was diminished in quality and which would continue to diminish. I can understand that feeling. Over the succeeding years I heard the “I wish I was dead” and “I wish I could die” many, many times. On several occasions it was followed by a very plaintive look as she followed that phrase with “but I know you can’t do anything for me.” Talk about heart wrenching!!

I have my own beliefs about what happens to Mum’s life force now, although clearly I can’t really know, but Mum had a very clear vision of the Christian God with white hair and a white beard sitting up in Heaven on a throne in a blue sky with fluffy white clouds all around. It was a vision Mum got as a girl growing up in Gawber and attending the local junior school and, of course, Sunday School at the local chapel – Mum was always clear that they were “Chapel and not Church” when they were growing up as it seems, in Mum’s opinion at least, that those who went to the church were “stuck up and thought they were something”! Anyway I really hope that, for Mum, her vision of the afterlife holds good and that she is now re-united with her Mum whom she adored but I never met, her siblings, possibly her dad although she had no really clear memories of him as he died in a pit cave-in when she was quite young. Will she be re-united also with my dad? I don’t know as his experiences with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment during WWII convinced him that there could be no such thing as God and the thought occurs to me that, maybe, after death what happens might just depend upon what we believe should happen.

Mum leaves behind lots of memories with me, my daughters and my grandchildren which are now making my eyes blurry so perhaps it’s time to stop writing and dry my eyes ;0)

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4 Comments

Filed under Alzheimers, Death, Dementia

4 responses to “Death and Memories of Life

  1. No matter what the relationship, the death of our mother almost always strongly affects us. My relationship with my late mother was very ,very difficult for pretty much my whole life – I was still strongly affected by her death. How much more so for you, even with the “preparation” that is the gradual loss of your mum to dementia.

    I am truly sorry for your loss. Please keep writing your feelings as you feel moved to.

    • Thank you! Yes, my relationship with Mum had been rocky for quite a few years due to her dementia and the way I responded at times but, happily, whether there is an after-life or not, and presumably whatever form it might take if there is one, she’s no longer frightened, confused and locked up inside her own mental space. I know which I would prefer!

  2. Sarah

    It’s about time I stopped in for a comment. Don’t you think?

    This post really spoke to me as I just lost my gramma on my mum’s side. Seeing as my mum and her only sister died of breast cancer, now on that side it is just me, my siblings, and my two cousins in BC.

    I don’t think I’m decided yet about afterlife, but your idea that it is what we believe it to be is both intriguing and inspiring. It is provoking to have good thoughts about the after life as I lean toward believing we were nothing before we go here, and we are nothing after.

    Thanks as always for sharing. Loss is a part of us all, and I hope your mum too is in a great place, as much as she believed it to be!

    My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to you and your loved ones.

    May she rest in peace,

    Love, Sarah

    (PS I found out on http://www.ancestry.com that I might have family far back from Yorkshire.)

    • I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your gramma but it feels as though she left you with many happy memories and so continues to live in you as it were.

      Ah the afterlife! I don’t think I’ve ever been told that any thought of mine was interesting and intriguing, so a big thanks for that! I don’t think we come to this life from nothing and I don’t thing we go on from this life to nothing. I think, and science supports this view I think, that matter can change but not be destroyed and ther same goes for energy (I’ve just cheated and checked here ). Easy to see and accept in terms of the body – I want to have a conker tree planted over my body so that little boys can amuse themselves for decades to come by throwing sticks at my conkers (perhaps that should have been written in a Kenneth Williams voice lol.) There is some life force in all living beings and we don’t know where it comes from. Scientists can replicate it by bringing sperm and egg together but so far they haven’t created it. To me, maybe it comes from somewhere else and goes somewhere else. I think what set this train of thought in motion was the quark and quantam physics. Now I am NOT in anyway a scientist, although once my hair fell out I undoubtedly looked like an egg head but that’s as close as I got. Anyway, as I was saying, my understanding is that a quark can exist in more than one place at once, can move from one place to another without seeming to pass through the space in between and will change it’s behaviour depending upon whether or not it is observed. OK, from this I jumped to a bit of what I think I understand about string theory and multiple universes (yes, I checked that as well – look here), and I thought, perhaps once the container of the life force dies the life-energy doesn’t simply wink out of existence, it just winks out in this universe at this time and perhaps pops up in another one at the same moment, and perhaps that other universe is one created by that life-energy. This is where someone with a scientific background comes along and tells me I’ve misunderstood everything and am mixing a variety of religions with bad science and even worse science fiction! The whole of nature carries on, the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, the daffodil flowers, dies back and another bulb is created and so on. If the corporeal carries on in that way why should our life-energy be different?

      Glad to hear you have some Yorkshire genes in you – it, perhaps, explains a great deal! lol

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