The Unavoidable Grief of Coping with a Dying Loved One

Coping with the anticipatory grief of losing a loved one is the tsunami of emotional roller coasters. Your heart gets flooded by feelings of anger, sadness, pain, confusion and a deep sense of helplessness that overtakes your soul. You force yourself to remain hopeful even when you know it’s a battle you’re not going to win and you fight until the end even when grief takes away every ounce of strength that you may have in you. It’s the hardest emotional pain a person would ever wish to endure. 

The moment I found out my mom was terminally ill, it took me a while to process what that actually meant. A part of me didn’t want to come to terms with the reality of the situation, it’s almost as if by not accepting the reality, I could somehow change my mom’s fate. I was overwhelmed by grief and that felt wrong. It felt as if I’ve completely given up on my mom while she was still here. I honestly didn’t know how to feel, act or deal with the awful circumstances I was facing. 

It took me some time to be more accepting of the situation. All I wanted more than anything was to make my mom better. I wanted to take her illness away and go back to us being happy, living life like we’d done up until this point. One thing was for sure, I could not change a thing… my mom’s fate was in motion and I didn’t have control of it. All I had control of was how I was going to decide to spend the time I had left with my mom.

It’s crazy how time changes its meaning when you realize it’s limited. Every moment with my mom became a new beautiful memory that would stay imprinted in my mind forever. We chose to focus on things that made her happy. Anything that would make her reminisce the good times we had together and with loved ones.

Yes, you feel a great deal of sorrow and it’s hard to forget the underlying heartache, but having a sense of humor during this time had the power to somehow heal our aching hearts. Many times tears of sorrow turned into tears of laughter while going through the archive of family jokes we’ve recorded in our minds over time. 

I made it a point to make sure she was surrounded by people who meant the world to her and that she was free to feel anything she wanted to feel. I felt helpless at first, really, because I had all this pain bottled up in my chest but at the same time I imagined what my mom was also going through, so I needed to be selfless for her while still trying to deal with my own emotions. I had to be there for her with an open mind and an open heart. 

Seeing my mom laugh during her last days is the one thing I think about when I think about her now that she’s gone. I was able to bring her joy even in her last days and that somehow makes me feel like I dealt with it in the best possible way. 

Our love served us during this period of grief by giving us the strength to make it meaningful. It was not easy, not in the least. Having to walk away from my mom’s room once she was gone was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but she’ll forever live in my heart. 

I’m not happy that she’s gone, but I’m happy that I was able to share with her until the end. She had the quality of life up until her last breath. I could not have had the chance to get some closure, so as hard as it was, at least I had a chance to say goodbye. 

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