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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Stand by me

Posted June 10, 2012

Who will stand by you at the end of your life? Will it be a spouse, a child, a best friend?

Watching my mother deal with a terminal illness makes me think about the fact that few of us ever really think about dying. While we may prepare a will or purchase life insurance, how much time do we spend actually thinking about who will surround us at the end?

In my mother’s case, there is a line of people down the block waiting to surround her. It starts with the inner circle — me, my husband, my children. It then goes out in concentric circles to extended family — nieces, a sister, a brother-in-law, my husband’s family.

Her friends make up the next rung. They have visited, sent cards, flowers, cookies, gifts and more cookies. The final rung is made up of my friends, those who know my mother, and those who do not. They have sent meals, built wheelchair ramps, sung to my mother and spent countless hours visiting with her.

Unfortunately, when you are dying, even surrounded by a circle of love, there is still something very solitary about the experience. I sense with my mother that there is no greater feeling of loneliness because only the person going through it can truly understand what it feels like. But, I still think that having that circle helps — it is a hug, a touch, a look from people next to the bed who show my mother that they care, that they are there, standing by her, not in her shoes, but by her side.

We leave the world the way we lived. My mother lived fully, with love and compassion for everyone around her. She is now reaping the benefits of that with the blessings of having so many people stand by her.

Who will stand by you? It’s something to think about …

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on mothering. Find her here on Mondays. Follow her mother's story daily on her CaringBridge site.


 

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  • AMazeder Jun 11, 2012

    Amanda, your mom is also reaping the benefits of your faithful and informative communication with the circles of people who love her. You are facilitating a lot of the reaching out that is happening! What you are doing is tremendous. Thank you for letting us share in your family's journey.

  • SisterChristian Jun 11, 2012

    I lost my father in 1993. We had no clue he would die. He had a massive heart attack in front of my Mother. We all loved him dearly and know he went straight to Heaven. We have always felt a huge void without him but look forward to the day we will be reunited in Heaven for eternity. Our time on this earth is a flash compared to the eternity we have in Heaven.

  • lec02572 Jun 11, 2012

    How much you love others during your life shows when you need the love of others in this time in your life. It says a lot about a person when they have these multiple circles of family, extended family, friends, and friends of friends. Precious is the time that we have with our parents. My mother passed at the young age of 65 and now my father has had Alzheimers for the past 5 years.

  • moppie Jun 11, 2012

    Both of my parents passed from terminal cancer. My mother from pancreatic, and my father from throat and lung, and we lost both of them in less than 2 years. We cared for both of them from home, and had Hospice make daily visits. We also lived in a small town where my father had been mayor for 16 years and my mother volunteered in most of the community groups as well as being the elementary school librarian. To say our home was busy was a vast understatement. Visitors usually started about 9am, and were a constant flow until about 9pm. I learned early that the best (but hardest) thing to do was to put a sign on the door to ask people to come back later. I promise you'll never regret taking care of your mother. As a fellow "survivor" who was walked thru this tunnel with you, it is an amazing journey. The most wonderful gift is that the grief you feel at their passing is gently tempered by the fact you have no regrets in the way you cared for your parent.

  • Twittyfan Jun 10, 2012

    I know this sounds terrible but I would just want my daughter and my family only.. My husband died a few years ago so he will be waiting for me. Back in the day when I was younger I use to be real social and friendly and would not care who was next to me but not now..I have everything done so when my day comes my daughter does not have to worry about doing anything for me but grant my wishes that I have spelled out for her..Amanda my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.. I know it is hard to see your mothers health decline.. So glad she has all that support..