My Mom is dying. And my Dad’s in rehab.
As an Elder Law attorney for 33 years, I’ve helped thousands of South Florida families deal with end-of-life issues. And I’d like to think that I’ve been a compassionate and caring friend to these people, as well as an attorney.
But now the shoe’s on the other foot. And I’m in the position that so many of my clients have faced over the years: How to accept, somehow, that my Mom is at the end of her life. And that my Dad – who can hardly walk these days – is facing the loss of his best friend and life-partner of 66 years.
Truthfully, I don’t know how to feel. And I’m so busy with my clients – which, I guess, is a good thing – that I’m not entirely sure when to feel it. There’s a deep screaming within my soul, like being trapped in a dark room. But, yet, I know that I still have to maintain balance in my life… with my husband, my son, my clients, and my family (and myself, too!). And, so, while I do allow myself some tears, I never allow myself to forget that people depend on me, and need me.
My Mom is now in hospice. She’s confused, bed-ridden, and unable to express herself much verbally. There are occasional hallucinations, too. She’s showing what the doctors refer to as “pre-active” dying.
My Dad? Well, he’s 91 now, and he hasn’t been without my Mom – even for a day – since he was 25. He’s the talkative type, friendly, outgoing, and a real jokester. Yet, I haven’t been able to get him to open up about this situation. But I can see that he goes from knowing she’s dying one minute, to denying it the next.
And me? I have a pounding headache all the time. I’m having trouble sleeping (I was sending out e-mails at 4 a.m. the other night). My stomach is doing so many back-flips that it feels like it’s turned inside-out on me. I’m emotionally and physically drained.
Yet, somehow, I get up every morning and do what I have to do. And, perhaps, that’s a result of the work ethic with which my Mom and Dad gifted me.
In a sense, now that I’m in the position of so many of my clients… I’ve had to become my own client. And I know that – like my clients – I, too, will somehow get through this.
End-of-life issues eventually affect all of us. Yet, we’ve kept them in the dark for far too long. And it’s time we discussed them.
Together, we’ll all get through.
My Mom and Dad