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By Chandrama Anderson

E-mail Chandrama Anderson

About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Mom Died

Uploaded: Feb 2, 2015
This was the first thing in my consciousness when I woke up this morning. Mom died. Overnight, this truth gets erased, and then comes back first thing each morning.

She died Friday evening. Her partner was in the next room and my brothers-in-law had gone to get take out when she expired ? literally exhaled her last breath. We were here in Menlo, and headed north at the news.

Mom went peacefully. My biggest fear was for her to suffer. Hospice did an amazing job keeping her comfortable, and our caregivers were wonderful. Mom's partner hung in there, no matter how tired he was.

I was glad to see Mom's body before she was taken away. She was so still, pale, and thin. That image will not overly cloud the thousands of other memories I have of her.

Between feeling sad, and relieved for her to be out of her ill body, I am sitting with the absence of her, and the mystery of death.

What happens next? Physics tells us that everything is energy, and energy doesn't die, it changes form. So Mom has changed form? There are many belief systems about death and I do not presume to know the answer to this question. Yet it feels important to ponder.

Death is not a topic readily talked about, and with modern medicine, death left the home and went to the hospital, until hospice.

I was a bereavement counselor at Pathways Hospice for two years while I was training to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. Grief counseling is rich work, and I love doing it.

We are cracked open by grief, and question everything.

Now it's my turn (again) to be open and questioning.

Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Feb 2, 2015 at 9:04 am

Thank you for sharing your journey. You've let us in to your life, and that's a gift.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by How bout that SuperBowl, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Feb 2, 2015 at 9:50 am

Rip.thank God for the memories


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Feb 2, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I'm very sorry for your loss and also relieved to hear that you have the support of many friends and family members. My father passed away in 2010 after 2 months of home hospice care from Pathways and we were very impressed with their services.

Now my wife and I are facing similar days ahead with her father, although he has not yet accepted what lies ahead for him. He's fighting to stay in his studio apartment despite more frequent stays at the VA hospital, but hopefully the quality of the life he has left can be improved.

Wishing you better days ahead...


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Feb 3, 2015 at 7:37 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thank you all for your comments, and JayPark for clearing up the confusion about the Mom of my heart. These are issues we all have to face and it's hard. NW, the VA has a great hospice program, at least the last time I checked.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Theresa, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 4, 2015 at 10:59 am

My deepest condolences, Chandrama. The death of a loved one from a horrible disease like cancer is such a mixed experience. Sadness that the person is no longer physically with us, but muted gladness that our beloved's pain and suffering has ended.

I don't know when I will get out of the habit of thinking, "Oh, I can't wait to tell my father-in-law about this experience." Sharing certain experiences and receiving his wise feedback was so important to me for almost 40 years that it became a good habit. He was also a Pathways patient; they were very helpful.

I too ponder what form his energy and your mother-in-law's has taken. I hope that it is a peaceful form.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Feb 4, 2015 at 11:55 am

A recent book that has also been helpful to us is entitled "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Dr. Atul Gawande of Harvard Medical School. Two of his students have actually been treating my father-in-law at the VA in Palo Alto, so that's been a good connection.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Agnes Brydges, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Feb 4, 2015 at 11:11 pm

You are such a fine, sweet young woman to write as you have about your dear mother-in-law. She was blessed to have such a fine woman as yourself in her life. You and your husband have been very good to her. She'll go to her final reward knowing you loved and cared so deeply for her. Bless you and your family.

I too have a daughter-in-law. I am ninety-four years old and my dear daughter-in-law is patiently waiting for me to pass. She thinks she is going to be a very rich woman one day..........but I have an unpleasant surprise for her.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Thank you, Chandrama:

I'm sure your blog 'mom' (thanks to clarification by another commenter), was a beautiful lady. I share in your sadness and have experienced it myself.

I lost my dear wife, Garnet, last June, after 56 years of marriage. She died of complications from ministrokes and vascular dementia. I'm in a writing class (Life Stories) at Avenidas PA, and I've written a couple stories about my experience: "Amazing Vestige Of Memory" and "Stranger In My House". I have another one in the works, "Home Alone". As writers we know we get relief when we get these blogs or stories written down. Otherwise, who would ever know. So many people are still of the oral tradition...just tell it to someone and it will be passed on. Uh, yeah, with a lot of errors and things missing.

After I bought an iPad I started recording videos of Garnet playing her harmonica along with granddaughter, Liz, playing her flute. I've thought about doing a documentary based on this but there have many made on the subject and books wrtitten so I'm not sure it would get any traction and be worth the time and effort. I saw "Still Alice". I thought it depicted the advance of the disease pretty well, especially the lost look in her eyes. I still tear up when I think about that in Garnet, but Garnet's was different. Hers was the old common garden variety vascular dementia, not a rare disease.

We had wonderful live-in caregivers for a year, Tongan ladies, and hospice for the last eight weeks. Garnet got the best care I could give her. She died peacefully in her bed and stayed there until the hospice doctor came to pronounce her dead and overnight until the transport van came to take her away the next day.

If anybody is interested in reading my stories I'd be happy to send them to you. My email address is ggandglj@yahoo.com.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sea Seelam REDDY, a resident of College Terrace,
on Feb 8, 2015 at 1:11 am

My prayers on your mom's passing.

This is one fact; that we all will leave this world one day.

What we do count.

You are a fine woman serving the community for what you do.

Respectfully


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of another community,
on Feb 8, 2015 at 2:02 am

I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear mother. Mine died two years ago this month. In the beginning I was (I thought) okay, as she had dementia and was bedridden for years. It was a relief she was out of that stateof limbo and confusion. But now it's harder, so many memories and dreams, sudden crying in public places, grief. Take special care of yourself during this sad time. I wish you well.

p.s. Stanford has disappeared on the neighborhood menu


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm

@Nora Charles:

Stanford shows up under the list of "Other," between Portola Valley and Woodside (the list is alphabetical).


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 8:47 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences with loved ones, and for your condolences and compassion. I am very fortunate to have four incredible couples counselors who work with me so I can slow down for a bit while they keep helping couples and accept new couples to help. I am gearing up for the memorial service. Choosing what to wear has made it real -- again -- in a new way. I may wear one of Mom's jackets that we got when we were together.


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