A family gathers around an elderly and ill woman with alzheimers in a hospital bed. Behind her bed is a large number of flowers.

The End Stage: A Loving Goodbye to My Mom With Alzheimer's

Mom was in the very end stage of her Alzheimer’s journey. She was completely bedridden, non-verbal, and unable to even swallow a sip of water. It was beyond heartbreaking to see my once vibrant mother this way. My dad would quietly sit by her bed for hours and hours just simply holding her hand. Mom’s very kind nurse from hospice sadly told us that it was only a matter of days, maybe 2 or 3, and Mom would be gone.

We were all so sad and wanted to spend as much time as we could with her. Two of my children live nearby and came over as soon as they got out of work. My other daughter was going to college way up in Maine, but as soon as her classes were over she jumped in the car to drive the 7 hours back home to be with her grandmother and all of us.

Dealing with grief

We were all together. Our grief was overwhelming, but so was our love. Mom was sleeping quite a bit during those days. When she was awake, Mom would often stare off into the distance above our heads; looking at and seeing only she knows what. Sometimes she would lift up her hand as if reaching for someone or something. But once in a while her big blue eyes would find one of us and focus in, and we would know that she knew we were there with her.

We believe she could feel just how much she was loved. We told her of our love for her in many different ways in those final days. When my dad needed some rest, we would take turns sitting by Mom’s bed holding her hand. We told her that we would miss her so much but that we would be okay and hold her in our hearts always. That it was okay for her to leave us behind.

Coping with music

We played Mom’s favorite music. The voices of Elvis Presley, Rosemary Clooney, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Bing Crosby became the soundtrack to our time together. We danced and laughed as we tried to sing along (not very well I might add, but Mom didn’t seem to mind!) The girls lounged together on my parent’s bed, cozy under a warm blanket when they were tired. We all talked to Mom about our lives, and I found out a month later that a big secret was shared with my mom in her last few days. My wonderful boyfriend Chris told my mom he planned to propose to me very soon; he thought she understood what he was sharing with her.

My oldest daughter Nicole also told my mom about Chris’s upcoming proposal and was convinced Mom knew what she was telling her. Sometime later that day, when only Chris and Nicole were in the room with Mom, somehow she mustered up the strength to tell him “take care of my family”. Mom understood and was giving her blessing. Tears fill my eyes every time I think of this.

Mom passed quietly in her sleep. Our family felt blessed to have been all together for the last few days with Mom.

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