Heartbreaking last days with Mum

Sara Bailey gives an open and honest account of love and loss. She shares details to help others going through similar, difficult times with loved ones. She talks about the heartbreaking last days with her Mum. We feature Chapters One and Two of her story on our blog.

News out of the blue

In October 2018, my closest friend suddenly and unexpectedly lost her Mum. It was heartbreaking. After all her support of me and mum’s diagnosis, it was her Mum that died first. It was on the day of her Mum’s funeral that my mum had her first-ever chemo appointment.

My gut instinct was that it was not good news. Little did I know then that a month later my friend would be at my Mum’s funeral.

Heartbreaking last days with Mum

Mum went downhill rapidly. We had the support of the hospice to keep her at home. She was provided with all the aids to help independent living. There was one day when my dad sobbed. He said that he did not want to go on without his wife. My son was with me and told him he needed him (as did his beloved cat). That was one of our lowest moments before the inevitable happened a few weeks later.

Heartbreaking last days with Mum
A guardian angel

Another poignant moment, Dad was overwhelmed with anger and threw something that I was sorting out. I had never seen him aggressive. I shouted back at him. Something I had never done. My Mum sobbed at what she witnessed and I went out to the side of the bungalow to cry. It was at that moment a hospice carer was leaving a neighbour’s home and saw me, like a guardian angel coming to rescue me at my lowest points. She helped me understand grief. Once again, my son’s calm and effective management of me and his beloved Grandad was wonderful.

Mum was admitted into hospital to the designated cancer unit

We were told it was only a matter of days. It was heart-breaking. Yet Mum still coped with humour and such love for us all. She had a special time with my brother and his family followed by time with me and my family. I ensured Dad had time with Mum without me in the room as I was very aware I was always present these days and Dad was reliant on me for getting everywhere.

On the evening of November 8th, 2018, everyone had gone home leaving Mum and I alone in her private room. I had brought her treats such as liquorice (her fave) and tasty treats that might tempt her. We played lots of old songs, for her to choose her favourites. We played Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Nat King Cole. She squeezed my hand at those that were special and from that I unknowingly chose her funeral songs. Mum told me to go home late in the evening and I said I didn’t want to leave her alone. She said nothing was going to happen that night, so I left for some rest.

At 5am I woke to the hospital ringing

Mum passed away at 4.45am that morning. A time now engrained in my time-clock that I wake up at every day since.

It was another ‘worst day of my life’ day

I had to ring my lovely Dad to tell him Mum had gone – how do you do that? The call you know is going to change their life forever. Then to ring my brother and then the dilemma of which of my children to ring first – I could only think logically and decided on the oldest first.

Dad was calm and sad when I rang. Without his hearing aids in, I wasn’t sure what he took in. I didn’t want him to be alone for a moment. So, we rushed to pick him up and we were at the hospital within the hour. I had to help him dress, put in his hearing aids and take him to see his wife of 60 years. It was heartbreaking.

In retrospect, I don’t know why we went to the hospital

It was harrowing. Nothing prepared me for it. Mum didn’t look peaceful. I was upset and couldn’t get out quickly enough. I rang my children and advised them not to come. The rest of the day was a blur with visitors. The undertakers included. Everything moved so quickly but the day felt like the longest ever. We were shattered. I

Heartbreaking last days with Mum

I didn’t want to leave my Dad but he wanted to be on his own. Learning to do things you don’t want to do with respect for others’ grief was one of my hardest lessons over the coming months.

Sara Bailey’s story continues in Chapter Four – to come next month.