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A beautiful passing

As you know, my mum has been hard hit by cancer and its treatments over the last three years. My family and I currently grieve her loss, as she passed away on Friday 10 February, and we celebrated her life on Friday 17th with a beautiful Thanksgiving Service which mum herself designed. There will no doubt be numerous posts over coming months. But I know she would not mind me sharing her final passing with you, as a way to open our eyes to how death can be beautiful and not feared.

My mum was a woman of God. She had faith stronger than any I’ve seen. She knew her time was close, and had prepared everyone as well as she could. She thanked people, told them she loved them, gave some precious things to them, and reminded everyone she would always be in their hearts. She celebrated and was overjoyed that she would be with Jesus soon, and while she was sorry for the pain her family and friends were feeling at her leaving, she was not sorry to be going.

In the hospice mum was referred to as “the lovely Baptist lady on the second floor.” She had so many visitors we had to put a sign up limiting them, and even had to ask the church minister to ask people to try and space out their visits. Mum was involved in lots of things, not only church – and so people were coming all the time. She had around 20 visitors a day – it was exhausting. People wanted to come because mum just shone and was full of love – so encouraging to see someone in a hospice who was so at peace. It was humbling. It was shocking. It was AWESOME.

In her final week we stopped all visitors. My mum showed such strength and I could see in her eyes what a really hard job it was just to sit in a chair. Her body was wasting in front of my eyes. The cancer grew in realtime. It was horrible because while the physical pain was minimised, the emotional pain – mine and my family’s – was everpresent.

I returned to Australia to spend these last weeks with my mum and family. Mum had me for the things she needed me to do for her. It was a privilege to be able to be there. I am grateful for it, and I know it is a time of my life I will always be thankful for, even though it has its share of incredibly painful parts. It has blessings as well – how lucky and blessed am I to have a family and a relationship with my mum so strong. So many don’t have that. How blessed that my family, my husband and children and my colleagues and friends all supported me unquestioningly in my need to be with mum. So many don’t have that, either. There was still laughing. There was love. There were new friendships, and the support of many I had never met before who loved my mother and wanted to share their own special memories.

The Passing

On that last day, the Friday, my mother was in her second day of a coma. We were, as always, in the room with her. In the mid afternoon, my sister-in-law left to get my nephews from school. My brother got me some dinner from a thai restaurant, and dropped it in. Then he went home to prepare dinner for all of them. I was staying the night. I said I wanted to go for a walk for half an hour before dad left, so plugged in my ipod and told one of our favourite nurses that I was leaving mum and dad together alone for a while. I walked down Rocky Point Road for a while, then turned and walked back.

I got back into the hospice at 5.30pm and went upstairs to make some tea before heading back to the room. Partway through, that favourite nurse motioned from the end of the corridor to me. I thought she was going to let me know something about mum and dad being together a little longer. As I approached she let me know that mum had just passed away.

Mum had spent that final 30 minutes with my dad, the love of her life, by her side. The man she adored since she was 18 and had been faithfully married to for 46 of her scant 66 years. While I had been there consistently, almost every minute that week – God’s timing was indeed perfect, and the only person who should have been with her at that most personal and private time was dad. Beautifully, he was with her as she went home to Jesus.

Beautifully for me, I came into the room just a few minutes afterwards. Beautifully, one of our favourite nurses was right there with us – and had been walking along the hall at exactly the right time for dad to get hold of without a panic. Beautifully, the peaceful passing we all wanted for mum had been accomplished.

If you can leave behind the ‘fight against death’ idea and instead believe aspects of passing can be beautiful, then my mother’s passing was indeed about as beautiful as could be imagined. Pain free? No. The mental pain for all of us was horrible, and continues for us in grief – but the comfort we have from her dignity, strength of spirit and excitement to meet Jesus is beautiful enough to hopefully, in time, overshadow that pain.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my family through these tough days, and who have sent condolences to us. I have learned more, loved more, and felt more emotion than ever before. Her strength remains with us and somehow I feel good that she is now free of a physical body which was decimated by cancer. She is truly always going to be in our hearts, and will always be a part of who I am.

18 Responses to " A beautiful passing "

  1. Melissa says:

    This post gave me chills. God is so good to us and your mum sounds like a blessed woman that was in turn a blessing! You have her smile. ((hugs))
    Melissa recently posted..Sweet Tea, Lent and Gratitude

  2. So beautiful, Jo. I love that you and your family found laughter and love at this exquisitely raw time. This is when you discover what a person, what a family, is made of.

  3. Thank you so much Jo for sharing about your beautiful mom and family. There is nothing more wonderful than the joy a family can bring each other.

    I personally really appreciate you being strong enough to share about your mums faith in Jesus. I love that she had faith that allowed her to find peace in being with Him. I know she is a beautiful angel.
    Clueless mama recently posted..Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax #Giveaway

  4. Penny says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of love. And may I say that you are as beautiful as your mum, Jo.

  5. Susan says:

    Jo what a beautiful post. I have tears in my eyes. My dad passed away almost 2 years ago from cancer. Your story has so many similarities with mine. My dad was so strong and accepted his fate with strength and bravery. He was absolutely amazing and such a pillar of strength to us all. I remember absolutely falling apart one evening in his hospital room when he sadly told me he hated to see me so sad. He wasn’t sad about his situation, he was sad because I was sad. He taught me that death isn’t something to fear, but a part of life.

    Your mum sounds like one amazing, strong, beautiful soul. I am so sorry for your loss but know you will carry her with you always, just like I know my dad watches over me too.

    I love your beautiful and funny soul.

  6. God is so great, and He knew the exact timing of her passing and so beautifully let those two lovebirds share it together. I’m still heartbroken for you, but I know she is in a place that I am, one day, excited to see. And you are showing such amazing grace through all of this. I’m so proud of you.
    jenny – Monkey Toes recently posted..I created…Ladybug Easter Eggs

  7. Carly Cosmo says:

    Tears in my eyes Jo, thankyou for sharing this with us, and the world. X

  8. MarkG says:

    Lovely post Jo…I’m sure your Mum would love it. Thanks for sharing.

    Welcome back.

  9. Denise says:

    I know how amazing your mother was because she created such an incredible daughter. You are awesome and I am lucky to have you as a friend.
    Denise recently posted..Mind + Body Challenge Created Changes Within…

  10. mediamum says:

    Thank you so much everyone. I rarely write without humour, and this was intensely personal. But I needed to get it down. Your responses reassure me it was the right thing to do.

  11. Following your journey has been heart-felt and heartwarming. What an incredible woman she was and I’m so glad you were there for her ’til the end.
    Amber’s Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck recently posted..On firing your husband

  12. Thank you for sharing her passing and your experience. She sounds like she was an amazing woman and at peace for this time in her life.
    Gina @ Special Happens recently posted..Will He Know…. (original poem)

  13. sonja lange says:

    I am sorry for your loss. This post was amazing – your mom must have been a wonderful woman to suffer with such grace and dignity. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Daria says:

    Your post made me cry Jo, you captured those last few days with someone in Hospice so well – and that final moment that you know is coming, but hurts just the same.

    Your mom was a wonderful woman and you are blessed to have her in your life, to give you your foundation, and to prepare you for life.

    Hugs to you…

  15. Beautiful post Jo, sorry for your loss.

    remembered me of this quote.

    “Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.”
    ― Osho,

  16. [...] are still a ton of details that must be handled and large decisions pressing on you.   If your parent is dying, do you know how they’d want the following situations handled?  Do you know how you’d [...]

  17. Jo,

    Your Mum was indeed a special and Godly lady; had such an impact on so many people…us included. The Creative card class blossomed under her leadership. Your word-pictures were uplifting and elegant as a tribute to Mum. Love, Bev & Jeff

  18. [...] a wonderful year on all fronts. I ended up spending a substantial amount of time in Australia and my mum’s passing has injected an incredible amount of emotional pain for me to carry. A pain that I would always in [...]

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