October 23rd will be the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death. She died in the hospital’s palliative care ward after only one month in hospital. Her diagnosis was early on-set Alzheimer’s disease but she died from dehydration/starvation-refusal to eat & drink. Reflecting back, I think she refused to eat and drink on purpose when she knew she couldn’t leave. There was a point where she went from not eating much to not eating/drinking at all. Eventually she just died from dehydration from not having enough fluids and food. My dad, sister and I knew she didn’t want to be kept on any sort of life support so we let her die without force feeding her. One of my aunts and grandmother were not pleased at first but accepted it was the right decision once they talked a bit more with the doctors and nurses.
I thought it best to give you that bit of information because when I mention cleaning up after grieving it’s a
present issue. Four years ago we did not throw away most of my mom’s things. We donated some of her things and gave away some items to other family but by and large her stuff is still around today. Yesterday was important because I helped my dad clean/tidy up his room that he couldn’t handle himself. Grief had made him inert where tidying up was concerned because he’d have had to go through my mom’s things in his room. He had all kinds of blocks/obstacles in front of her things that I think he was unaware of. The obstacles kept him physically unable to deal with moving her clothes and donating them to charity. Every ‘block’ was another excuse for him to put off dealing with her clothes. I gave up a year or so ago on trying to convince him to part with the things. I realized he’d do it when he was ready-not because I pestered him into it. Today he sounded like he was ‘ready’ when he mentioned giving my mom’s clothes away finally. My tidying up his room gave him the momentum and clarity he needed to see a way through his resistance to parting with mom’s stuff.
I feel very pleased my dad is finally moving forward in his grief work. Some people can toss their spouse’s clothes and belongings in the first year. Dad needed longer but at least he’s getting there. Maybe I have been able to help him by living with him. He says he appreciates my company. But sometimes I feel guilty for not doing more. Yet now I see perhaps I have given him something less tangible and concrete-a way to heal.
There’s still a lot of things to be dealt with in terms of giving things away but we’re a lot further ahead than we were just a few days ago, and even more so than four years ago! My mom was a compulsive hoarder so she had more things than is normal and healthy. Thus, despite giving away a large amount of her stuff there remains a fair amount to be sorted still.
© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.