This last week has been for me, one of the most trying difficult of times I can think of in my life.
I, like millions of people in this country had to rush to my dying mother’s bedside to have my last moments with her and also to tie up the remnants of her life and prepare for the immediate issues that will follow her death.
When my sister and I arrived at the hospital where she was recovering from an infection which sent her there from the assisted living facility where she lives.
It was heart wrenching enough to have to look at her lying in that bed with tubes in her to help her breath and a tube in her arm which feeds her hydration and antibiotics.
We spent cherished moments with her and I felt that I was recording every moment for posterity; for me to remember images of her—her expressions, her eyes.
In the midst of my overwhelming feelings of sadness and bewilderment over the enormity of the existential life crises I was experiencing, I knew that I had to take care of the business of what would follow upon her death which is imminent.
We were sitting at the foot of her bed and a woman rushed in to the room. She announced that she was a Hospice representative for an agency and that she worked in concert with the hospital.
She took us into a room and began to explain to us how her Hospice team operated—essentially what kind and comfort she would be receiving as she lay dying.
I called the assisted living facility where she lives and spoke with the head nurse who told me that the facility commonly uses another competitive hospice that is superior and much more familiar with the facility. She earnestly pleaded with me to use her Hospice team and tell the lady ‘thanks but no thanks’.
It wasn’t even five minutes before the lady appeared to me in the hospital corridor and all but chastised me for choosing another Hospice other than the one she represents. She said, in regards to the head nurse I spoke with that ’ she should be ashamed of herself” for interfering with her plans to snare me into her agency and that it was illegal practices to do such things. She then turned on her heels in a huff and left. It took me a few minutes to contain my nerves and to assimilate what just happened.
I realized, as a shock, those Hospices with all the goodness and live that is provided to the dying, it is still a business; a hard fought business, an ugly business of fighting over who will get the ‘body’.
That was my first eye opener.
We left the hospital and made our way to the funeral chapel where she will be cremated. We spoke with a man who told us how my mother’s cremation and the distribution of death certificates will be handled. Then in a daze from overwhelm and my own grieving feelings I chose an urn from a selection that will be used to contain her ashes.
Today my mother is back at the assisted living facility and doing better. She is alert and eating.
I will never forget, however my experiences of dealing with the business of dying.