The Processes of Dying and Learning to Let Go
As I have hinted before, I was on a grand excursion to Spokane to move my mother from her home to assisted living.
I am deeply grateful to the guides and angels that prompted me to go when I did.
It truly was the perfect and probably only correct moment to make this choice.
A year ago, my sister and I had tried to have that “tough” conversation with our mother … but it only ended in her screaming at us for 3 hours.
We could both see that she was falling into the patterns of dementia (after all, my sister is a doctor) and her short-term memory was terrible, and she had become unable to navigate simple things.
In her frustration, she had replaced all appliances in her house multiple times.
But the problems were not the appliances … but within her own mind.
I know that it is hard when someone has been strongly independent throughout their life to figure out how to see that they are failing.
The aging process is layered with ways to avoid the truth, deny there is a problem, and find fault with others rather than oneself.
I have watched many do this and it does not bring more grace but instead it brings anger, resentment, despair, and hopelessness.
The one fabulous thing was that her soul was finally willing to surrender and go to assisted living.
Not her mind … but her soul.
The trick was for me to constantly engage and interact with her soul … not her mind.
Her mind wanted to freak out and cling to everything.
But her soul was willing to give very expensive things away to those she loved and wanted them to have things to remember her by.
I watched as her soul would have the control temporarily only to suddenly have her mind declare adamantly, “But those things are MINE!”
To which I always calmly responded, “Mother, everything in this house is yours. That fact in not in question. The question is what do you want to do with it now?”
I had suspected but discovered the fact that my mother was the Imelda Marcos of pants. There were over 200 pairs of pants in the closets. Twenty-five of the exact same pair of jeans … in the same size.
The only way to navigate them all was to have a fashion show for a week, where she tried on all the clothes and determined which ones she wanted and which ones she was tired of.
I calmly explained that she could have two pairs of jeans but not all of them. She could have one pair of pants in each color but not 15 purple pants.
Amazingly I got her to get rid of a ton of stuff.
She had three houses of furniture in her house. Things were stacked to the gills and there was almost not room to move around. Slowly but surely … I was able to navigate her through the mountains to stuff and lets just say, “Goodwill” had a great month.
I found things in the garage that had been forgotten for years and distributed them to the grandkids … mailing copious boxes out to them.
It was one of the only ways to get her to let go of some things. She would only give some things to friends and family, but she would not give them to Goodwill.
She had the doctors’ appointments and the MRI’s and she had severe ischemic vascular disease which was causing the dementia and that it was also severe. Her brain is shrinking in her head, and she is losing white matter.
She is lost, she is falling. She can’t figure out the on and the off positions on a faucet or the shower. She hides things then can’t find them.
I have placed large notes everywhere with step-by- step instructions but she cannot follow any directions.
She is doing the “shadowing effect” that dementia patients do, which means they follow you around and if you turn around, they are right on top of you.
They almost need to be directed all the time.
I managed to have her stable enough so that she was able to sign all the papers herself and I closed out all the credit cards except one for her to use.
I managed to sell the house in one day! I considered that a huge win. And I got her set up at the assisted living facility that is wonderful and luckily in her neighborhood.
But regardless, all the steps are only the beginning of her rapidly moving towards her final curtain call.
And she is confused enough to make herself and others miserable. I am pretty sure that she will have to go the next step up in care at this facility shortly. And that is something that she needs to do even now. But she is unable to process that reality quite yet.
Fortunately … now that she is in the system and she has eyes on her, others will make that recommendation and it moves out of our hands to the professionals.
And for that I am grateful.
It is difficult to watch as those we love move into this stage of existence. I remind myself that I too will be there sooner rather than later. And I hope that my journey will be more peaceful and more accepting of that final path than my mother’s.
I remember the Sufi phrase, “Die before you die!”
Meaning right now, practice the art of letting go. Practice those feelings of surrender and grace. Realize what is the process of letting go and how it will feel in the body. The more we practice the more we will not be afraid of what is on the other side.
We have existed in spirit long before we were ever human. We are only going back to our normal state of being energy and light.
There is nothing to fear. But letting go of this reality and seeing it as a dream can be very challenging for some.
I wish a peaceful process for all, but I know that our attachments keep us from seeing past this reality and into the true nature of our being.