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We Never Heard The Phone Ring

by Sherry
(Cleveland, OH)

My Mom had been diagnosed with lung cancer a year and a half ago. She had radiation and chemotherapy to help her pain. It had spread from her lungs to her bones.

She went to a place called The Hope Center for treatment. I thought, what a sweet name for a place for people with cancer. Mom never wanted to talk about dying because she wanted to focus on living instead of dying. She said we are all going to die someday, right?

She had all the radiation that her body could take, all the chemo it could take. She got sick, and very thin and decided to move into a care facility. We lived out of town about an hour and 20 minutes away.

We talked every day through her illness. But, as she got worse she seemed to pull away from me and was concerned about my health since I had suffered a stroke and multiple brain aneurysms in 2005. She hid things from me to protect me emotionally. She had a close group of friends in town that visited her regularly. I felt comfort that they were there for her.

She never told anyone how long the doctors said she would live. We visited as much as we could with my husband's crazy work schedule and visitation every other weekend with my 9 year-old stepdaughter. It had been worrying me so much that I couldn't sleep, was up until 4-5 am every night, would go to bed when my husband left for work.

She had always said she was fine, and continued to smoke. I would call the nurses desk 2-3 times a day because she was always down the hallway in the smoke room every hour, even up until she died Sunday. We had gone out to relax that night at the casino. I called the nurses desk the night she died, and they said she was fine.

Then we left for the casino. I had my cell phone on my purse right in front of me, but couldn't hear the phone from all the casino noise. So, we had short notice and she went downhill very fast. It was hard not being there, and I blame myself...but, she was surrounded by friends.

She wanted cremation and no calling hours. I had to identify the body, which was really hard. I don't worry about her anymore, just miss her terribly.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Sherry, and thanks for telling your story here. I am so sorry for your loss. You sound stable and strong in how you describe the sequence of events that lead up to her death.

The self blame you feel for not being there is normal. Many people have those feelings at the time of a loss. You sound wise enough to know that these feelings will pass, and that you did all you could.

I encourage you to honor your grieving process, and honor your mother's memory, by remembering all of the good and loving experiences you had with her throughout your life. That will help you get through the grief, as grieving is ultimately an act of love.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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