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End of Life: How to Be There When You Can't Be There

[Image: FaceTime with my mom, dad, and sister. I love this photo because it shows that there is much more connection when you can see each other than when you just call.]

My husband, son, and I were able to go to my parents home last week since my Mom, who has Lewy Body dementia, declined. She stopped eating and drinking, then ate and drank a bit, but then stopped again. My family and I had to go back to our home, across the country, and I am really sad that I cannot be there with Mom as she dies. Mom has a lot of support and so does Dad, with my sister and brother there, so I know Mom is not alone, but I always wanted to be there when my mom died.

Now that we have so much more technology in our lives, I am using FaceTime on my iPhone to be with my mom and family even though I cannot physically be there.

Mom mostly lays sleeping and can not respond, but I believe she can hear me. I could just call on the phone, but I find much more connection when I can see the other person. I can see Mom’s face and hear her breathing, which helps me know a bit more about how she is doing. I also like to see my sister and Dad who are with Mom during the day. It is far more helpful to have an eye-to-eye connection when you are going through a difficult time and you need each other. I want to be there to support them, so the best I can do is provide emotional support and keep in touch.

In reality, even though I know it is okay not to be there when a loved one dies and I have told many families the same thing as a minister, I still hate it. It still feels bad not to be there. It feels bad not to be with my dad- just sitting with Mom or having lunch together. It feels bad to be trying to have an everyday life totally separate from what is going on with my Mom. I don’t like trying to take my son to school, work on my writing, and have a “normal” day while my Mom is dying and my Dad and sister are with her and I can’t be.

All I can do is the best I can with the resources I have. I encourage anyone else in the same situation to look into all the ways you can be connected with your loved one if you want to be. Try FaceTime, Skype, send photos back and forth, or send music that you know your loved one would like and have it played for them. I am hoping that in my Mom’s last few hours, I can use FaceTime to be there for her and the rest of my family.


Rev. Katie

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