It is Hard to Watch Your Mother Die

Cutting the birthday cake

Cutting the birthday cake

I am sitting here in the hospital beside my Mother’s bed watching her life slowly ebb away.  It is only a month since our joyous celebration of her 90th birthday. Just after we left she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and her condition has declined rapidly.

It is the hardest but in some ways the most important thing I have ever done. I am now staying at the hospital sleeping on a couch beside her bed. Sometimes I read to her or recite her favourite poems. Sometimes I hug her and assure her of my love. She is still conscious and I thank God for these precious last days with her.

It hard to watch your mother die,

To watch the spark that gave me life

Grow dim.

To see the much loved face

Grow gaunt and lose its smile.

To hold the hands

That once held me in love

And try to comfort through the tears.

It is hard to watch a mother die,

To watch this last hard journey

Grow harder every day.

To know I will not share

Tomorrow’s moments of delight

Until I too prepare to cross the veil,

And on the other side

Find once more that loving smile.


41 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for expressing this, Christine. It is so important. I have a number of people I am going to send this to who are going through this same thing at the moment. God bless you! Coe

  2. Chris, this touches me deeply. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I can only imagine how hard it is to watch a beloved parent suffer…and I know that your mother was so special to you. You look so much like her Chris, and it is obvious from the photos that she delights in you. I will pray for the grace of the Lord to be strong upon her…upon you… and your entire family. Love this:

    “…Until I too prepare to cross the veil,
    And on the other side
    Find once more that loving smile.”

    Sending hugs from Nashville your way, dear friend….


  3. Christine, this is education and beauty that too many of us miss. Who teaches us how to live, react, be when someone of significance in our life is dying? Typically the answer is no one. Thanks for showing me your response and so helping me prepare for that day. Love to you and Tom.

    • Blessings Skip – I appreciate your prayers and your supportiveness. I remember Billy Graham saying “I was prepared to die but not for the process of dying” This all makes me aware of how important both types of preparation are.

  4. Prayers to you. I recall doing the same for my father. It’s a difficult journey but so important that you are there with your mother. I considered myself blessed to be with my father, and previously my grandmother, at the moment of their death. God’s gift. xo

    • Thanks Tricia – I think that we so rarely face death these days. It is always sanitized and hidden away. But facing it like this is food for me and I think for all of us.

  5. Thank you Christine. It mirrors my experience.

  6. Continuing in prayer, Christine. You’re words are beautifully expressed.

  7. Thank you for sharing Christine. I have too been there … my 102 year old mother gradually died, cradled in my arms for hours. In the morning, her Afro-Caribbean nurse put it beautifully, ‘Today,, Barbara is journeying …’ Her dying lights suddenly and beautifully blazed to life as she travelled beyond my reach and found her final destination.

  8. Brought tears to my eyes since I went throught this two years ago with my is our last gift to our moms

  9. Christine, I resonated with your poem having lost my mom to cancer.
    Such a sacred, painful time!!

  10. Beautiful! Thanks you for lovely words!


  11. My heart goes out to you. I had the privilege and it is a privilege to be with both my parents when they died. They left this world to go home to heaven hearing our voices telling them how much we loved them. I know you are now doing the same and you too will feel the sense of privilege at being there with your Mom.
    You are allin my thoughts and prayers.

  12. The thoughts above mirror so many of my feelings – but I am especially thankful for your example, during the difficult time ,of saying goodbye . This is where the rubber hits the road and you are an example of Christ’s loving presence! I pray His presence may strengthen you!

    • Thanks Linda – so appreciate everyone’s prayers and I find that sharing is both therapeutic and comforting to others during this time. So often we bottle up our pain – it is not good for us or for others

  13. I sat with my Mum in April of this year for nine days until she passed away. It was such a privilege to be with her in her last days and hours. Painful beyond measure yet beautiful too. I will never forget those days and I learnt so much about myself, my Mum, and my Father in heaven who provided the strength, the comfort, the peace and the humour to get through. Your words touched me, and I pray for you and your Mum at this time.

  14. Walked through this with my mother during the last six months of 2012. Not only is it hard to watch your mother die, it is difficult to face life each day without her presence, and counsel.

  15. My mom died five years ago, or 13 years ago if I start counting from when the mom I knew and remembered was no longer with us, mentally. But I believe in eternal life. Her spirit lives on beyond the grave and little bits of it live on through me every time I step out onto the dance floor, every time I sneak a piece of pepperoni off my grandson’s plate, and every time we start the car to leave on vacation.

    “We’re off!”, she would exclaim.

    And the whole car-full of us would always respond in gleeful unison, “Like a dirty shirt!”

    And here is a bit of poetry and rhythm that I pray will sing to a bright spot in your soul somewhere.

    • Thanks Jim, – we keep telling Mum that she will always be with us and I know that she will which is a great thought. Thanks too for the poem. It is beautiful

      • God’s love, Divine Love, knows not the boundary that we imagine as the thin veil between our “here” and our “hereafter”. Your love for your mom, and her love for you will continue without boundaries on into eternity. Trust. Believe. Continue to share your story, my friend. We all will be blessed by it.

      • Thanks Jim for your encouragement

  16. Thank you for posting this beautiful poem. It’s touched me deeply.
    Like many others who have responded, I lost my Mum – to cancer last October. Walking with her through her final days was the most precious and tender, yet most painful journey I have ever had to make. It was an incredible privilege and I am constantly amazed at God’s provision, grace and perfect timing.
    I’m grateful you’ve shared your story, as it’s helped me to reconnect with my own. Am lifting you and your precious Mum in prayer..

  17. O, Christine … I can’t even imagine. Holding you in the Light during this time. Thank you for sharing some of this painful journey.

    • Thanks Idelette – it has amazed me how much people have appreciated me sharing this. For some it has brought a willingness to share their own struggles. For others it has helped bring closure. I had not planned to share this journey so openly but realize how important it is both for me and for others

  18. I was 15 when my mother crossed over. I saw her reach up her hands and call to her mother and father (grandparents I had never met)…and it opened up a whole new world for me…the World of Spirit. My mother was the first spirit I communicated with. It doesn’t matter how long you have your mother in this life…it is always a great sense of loss when it is time to say goodbye. May the memories of your life together sustain you through the years until you meet again.

  19. Christine, My mom crossed over nearly 17 years ago. She was young and beautiful before the cancer. She withered away and it was so difficult to watch. I spent a month with her before her passing and it was a very special time and I was so privileged to be with her! I learned the blessing of no regrets from her… She talked with all that she needed to during that time, told them of how she loved them, how she never meant to hurt them, how much their friendship meant to her, etc. Such a blessed time. When we planned her service… It was a celebration of her life and such a blessing to us and to my Dad! We took risks ( such as she loved to hear me sing – so I sang the Lord’s Prayer – didn’t think I’d make it though not crying – he Lord gave me a stronger voice than I’ve ever had and no tears) – we had no regrets and many blessings through her service! Living without Mom to share with is still difficult at times….knowing she is praising The Lord is priceless! We look forward to joining her one day! You are in our prayers!

  20. Thanks Denise. I have been encouraged by so many like yourself that have walked this path before me.

  21. […] It’s Hard to Watch Your Mother Die  […]

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