Dear God, Please Let My Mother Die

I found out that my mother passed away when I woke up on a Friday morning in July. As always, before I got out of bed, I grabbed my cell phone and immediately noticed that I had a voicemail. 

I was told my mom has dementia. Here is my experience.

The message came in the very early morning while my family was sleeping. It was from my mom’s ex-husband. Since he was the only family member that she would acknowledge he became the main contact and her medical power of attorney, which I was personally thankful for. 

His message was direct and he let me know that I needed to call him regarding my mother. 

When I called him, he told me that my mom had passed away. He explained to me how she passed away and where her body was transported to. He proceeded to explain that my sisters and I would need to decide what we wanted to do with her body but to let him know if we needed help or had any questions. 

As he was talking, I had to let it sink in that I was a 34-year-old woman who would soon be having to make very adult decisions that I was not ready to make. I never had to deal with death so I didn’t know where I was going to begin. 

After I hung up the phone, my husband asked me what was going on. With no emotion and as if it was a regular morning I told him that my mom died and then I proceeded to get ready for work. 

Not expecting my reaction, I think he was caught off guard. He asked me if I wanted to take the day off and I quickly responded with, “Why?”. 

Once again he was confused with my response because normally if someone’s mom or dad dies it is expected for them to take the day off of work to heal. 

What my husband didn’t know was that I had been praying for her to die. Yes, it sounds horrible that I would lay in bed at night and instead of praying that God would heal my mother, I prayed that he would allow her to pass away. So after I hung up the phone with my mom’s ex-husband, I thanked God for answering my prayer. 

Around 13 years before my mom passed away, she was diagnosed with early stages of dementia which rapidly progressed until she passed away. 

Growing up with my mother she was never mentally stable. She was either really mean or really nice and of course refused to go to a doctor for an evaluation. It was a struggle for her daughters and anyone that she came in contact with. Her abuse and unpredictability were almost impossible to handle, especially for my sisters and me. With that said, as adults, it was not often that my sisters and I would speak to or visit my mother. 

When her diagnosis slowly began to come to light I remember that she would nonchalantly talk about how she was having ‘problems’ with people that she worked with and that her boss was ‘mean’ and would yell at her. Of course, at the time, I knew that the problem was not with her coworkers or her boss but with her. I lived with her personality disorder for 17 years before I moved away from her. 

Weeks later, before texts and emails were a thing, she mailed me a letter. In the letter, she wrote that she had seen a doctor and that she would be going on disability because she was having a hard time staying on track and remembering things. In my mind, I related it to stress. Maybe she was overwhelmed or maybe she couldn’t handle riding the bus to Downtown Dallas and dealing with people or maybe her workload was too much.  

It wasn’t until a few years later after she had not returned back to work and after her husband had divorced her that I realized just how bad her condition was. Her condition was more than experiencing work-related stress. It wasn’t until then that I found out that she was diagnosed with dementia. My mom has dementia. I could not stop saying those words in my head. 

I was not as familiar with dementia as I was of Alzheimer’s. After researching both, I came to realize that they were similar but not the same. I, honestly, to this day at times still get the two confused but know from research and experience that they are both horrible diseases.

I saw the effects that dementia had on my mother when she started to label certain items in her home with what they were. One notecard would read ‘Fan’, while another notecard would read ‘Light’. There was also a time that she allowed a stranger to live with her in her home and also allowed two strangers into her home to use the restroom, who in turn stole her checkbook. This was not the norm for my mother, she was normally very cautious and she really didn’t like people.

One afternoon I had received a phone call from my mom’s family doctor who was also the same doctor that saw my sisters and me when we were young. I loved hearing his voice but didn’t love what he was about to tell me. He told me that my mother had walked to his office from her home, approached a nurse in the parking lot and asked her for help. The doctor looked her over, called me, and then had the nurse take her home. He knew my mom had dementia but there was nothing more he could do to help her. Another time, a caseworker went to check on my mom at her home and even though my mom knew she would be visiting her, my mom viciously ran her off of her property. She also didn’t hesitate to scream at her neighbor for mowing his lawn at 9 am on a Saturday morning. She apparently thought it was too early to mow. One time my husband visited her at her home, she started giving him a lot of random items, mainly for the girls but then accused him a day later and said he stole one of her ‘special’ stuffed animals. There were many more incidences up until the time that she passed away but knowing that my mom had dementia I didn’t know how to prepare for her next inappropriate behavior or her next over the top dementia-related incident. Remember, she wanted nothing to do with her daughters, much less the caseworker.  

We finally had to move my mom into a nursing home when she was stopped by the police at 2 am. She left her home in the middle of the night, left her front door open, and started walking. She walked down alleys and streets. I am thankful that the police found her and that she trusted them enough to transport her to the hospital and call her ex-husband. It’s funny. When my mom was younger she worked as an administrator for the police department. I often wonder if this is why she trusted them on that early morning.  

After my mother was admitted into this nursing home, her ex-husband explained to me that this would be her permanent home. She was getting worse and she was now medicated. He said that she actually thought that he was her father which explains why she trusted him and only him. She was, from what I understand, very close to her father. 

I decided that I needed to visit my mom. I knew that she hated being confined to a nursing home and I knew she was going to be upset and angry. She always said that if anyone put her in a nursing home that she would stop living. Knowing this, I would often ask myself that since my mom has dementia if she even knew she was in a nursing home. The disease not only confuses the victim but the family as well. 

Before I arrived to see my mother, I baked some banana bread. Growing up, she always made banana bread so I wanted to bring her something that might bring her a bit of happiness. 

I arrived at the nursing home at around 10 am. I remember the time because The View was playing in the TV room. When I walked into the nursing home, my first impression was that it was clean and didn’t have the typical ‘smell’. As I walked down the corridor, I saw my mother standing at the nurse’s station. She was frail, she was quiet, her eyes were empty and she was staring straight through the nurse that was speaking. This was not my mother. This was not the woman that was headstrong, opinionated and mentally abusive. This was an empty shell. 

I immediately turned around, swallowed the lump that was building in my throat and quickly walked out of the building. I got in my car and let it out. I cried. I cried harder than I had cried in a very long time. I didn’t expect to see my mother like this. I didn’t expect to see her dead inside. I didn’t expect to see her unaware of where she was and who she was. I honestly did not know what to expect but I know I never expected this and was not ready and did not know how to respond in an unemotional way. My mom was dead but at the same time still alive.  

It took me around 15 minutes to compose myself. I knew that I had to go back in and see my mother.

When I walked back into the facility, someone that had observed my initial reaction asked me if I was okay. I told her that I had not expected to see my mother like this. She understood and told me that it was okay. 

A nurse from the nurse’s station walked me to my mother. She was in the TV room, not staring at The View. The nurse told her that her daughter was here to see her. She simply stared straight ahead at nothing. I sat down. I said hello. She continued to stare. I opened the banana bread and offered her some. She looked at it and mumbled, “It’s supposed to have cinnamon in it.” She didn’t take any. It’s funny because I put chocolate chips in my banana bread and she used to put cinnamon in hers. She knew I did it ‘wrong’ and didn’t hesitate to mumble it. 

After 30 minutes of staring with her, I told her good-bye and left. 

A few weeks later, I went back to the nursing home to visit her. I decided to bring my girls. I thought that maybe this would make her happy. As we drove to the nursing home, I talked to them. I told them that my mom has dementia and what it was. I told them to smile, to be sweet and speak when spoken to. They were so young but I knew they understood. 

We sat in her room. She mumbled. The girls were good but I could tell they were not wanting to be there. My mom said her mouth was dry and she asked for gum. I couldn’t give her any for fear of her choking on it. We stayed for around 20 minutes, said our good-byes and left. I knew that would be the last time I would see her. I knew that would be the final good-bye. I was okay with that. 

That night is when I began to pray to God. I prayed that he would allow her to die. That he would ease her of her pain and her misery. She was not living. She was just there. She was simply an empty shell. Why was she needed on this Earth? If God didn’t allow her to die then in my mind he was a selfish God. I didn’t want her to have to live this way and I knew that she didn’t want to live. 

A few months later, my mother refused to eat. She was taken to another facility. From my understanding, they attempted to force-feed her through a tube. Their attempt failed. Days later her heart stopped. God listened.  

I have never shared my experiences and my thoughts regarding the story of the end of my mother’s life with anyone for fear of being judged. I decided to tell my story because it’s important for people to understand that death is something that is dealt with differently from one person to the next. Some people that experience death may go into a deep depression while others, like myself, say good-bye and accept the death of their loved one while they are still alive. How you deal with death or how someone you know deals with death, does not make their way wrong if it does not seem how others may deal with death. There is not a right or wrong way, there is only your way. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.   

My mother was diagnosed with dementia when I was in my early twenties. As her dementia progressed, I prayed for her death. This is my experience with having a mom that has dementia.

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