Each year I am reminded of the passing of my mother. People say the first year is always the most difficult. As years pass, the sadness is not as deep but you never forget. My mother was not well for some months and had slipped into what doctors were calling a semi-comatose state. She was unresponsive to voice and touch. She had signed an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) and the doctors had advised us that there was nothing else that they could do and wanted to remove her feeding tube (by her wishes from her AHCD). They thought that was the best thing for her and to allow her body to go naturally.
I of course was hesitant; I had spoken to my mom about life support and breathing tubes, of which she had none when she first was hospitalized. I was in my senior year of college and had no experience with AHCDs, at the time, the form was relatively vague. My mom named me as her Health Care Power of Attorney to make decisions if she was unable to. My father wasn’t coping well and being my mother’s only daughter she trusted I would do what was best. Who would know that I would need to make such a difficult decision?
I spoke to my family, my father and close friends; they all said to do what I thought best. Of course no one wanted to make that decision. I wrestled with the rare stories of people who had come out of a coma, and what if I just waited a little longer. I went to my mom’s oldest and dearest friend of over 30+ years, a woman I called Aunt Charlotte, who had brought my mom and myself to know Christ when I was 13.
My Aunt said the reason I struggled with the decision was not only that we were talking about my mom, but that the Bible tells us to choose life. She was a wise woman, my Aunt Charlotte, she said, I should pray about it and I’ll know it’s the right decision when I have peace. This was the best advice I could have. I spent much time in prayer, as many do during times like these. The scriptures I was lead to, continue to carry me and provide me comfort during difficult times.
Tasks to Help You Cope During the Holidays
-Faith and Scripture
Here are the two scriptures that bring me peace, guidance, help me cope, and offer comfort.
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Trust and Seek
“Trust in the L ord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:56
-Fellowship and Friendship
You may want to be alone when you’re feeling overwhelmed with your emotions. This is fine, it’s totally normal. Just don’t let this go on for hours and days without end. Don’t allow depression to sink in. Make arrangements to meet with friends, or call some people when you know you are going to have a rough time going through this season.
Even when you don’t feel like it, talk to someone. You don’t need to talk about the person who passed, but just talking with others helps you not sink deeper into what can feel like hopelessness. Make time to visit with friends. Have frequent contact with old and new friends will allow yourself to move through the emotions, not to ignore the emotion, but allowing yourself to receive support.
Remembrance and Gratitude
I think about how much I miss my mom and then I think how blessed I was to have her for the many years that I did. I had her through all of my childhood, and my adult life. I think about the children whose mothers died when they were young. I think about the mothers who didn’t love their children, or did drugs, or just didn’t put their children before themselves as mothers should; the ultimate act of unselfish behavior, I knew my mother would die for me, would take do everything she could to protect me, yet allow me to grow and become my own person. I was fortunate to know a mother’s love. I was studying communications when my mom became very ill and one of my professors suggested I begin writing about what was going on.
My speech course professor allowed me to write about what was going on at the time I thought my mom was going to die and she told me that I could write it and she would read it in class and give me my grade based on what I wrote and not what I spoke. She knew I would not have been able to make it through the speech without crying. I still write about my experiences and this has helped me when coping with my mom’s death.
Service to Others
There are always people out there who are less fortunate then ourselves. Share what you do have. If you can’t feed others by inviting people over for the holidays, organize a potluck in the park with others who may not have plans or have also lost someone dear to them. Serve at a homeless shelter. Make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, get some coffee cups and a thermos and offer warmth to those in need. Volunteer at your local shelter, day care, church, etc. In serving others we are reminded of how fortunate we are.
There’s much to do this holiday. Don’t stifle your emotions. Have the moment, then keep doing what you need to do. Make plans for those times when you know being alone is not a good thing – when you’re not at work and after hours. Attend church services in the middle of the week for fellowship and guidance from scriptures. Create a plan today, call or email a friend who knows your situation and ask them to be accountable with you during this next few weeks until the new year – this will allow others to bless you by knowing the struggles of coping with a loss of your loved one.
One last thing, the amount of time that your loved one has passed doesn’t seem to matter. If it’s a parent, spouse, sibling, or child – the ache is still there. It’s been 17 years, my mom went home to be with the Lord on November 25, 1993. I asked the doctors to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to take her off of the tube feeding. By God’s grace I never need to think if I waiting longer would she come out of it, as I surrendered to the Lord the control I wanted, He gave me peace that surpasses all of our understanding. May you be blessed and experience this same peace that only our Lord Jesus Christ can give. Happy Holidays.
The US National Suicide & Crisis Support Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National 1-800 Crisis Hotlines
Covenant House for youth, teens, and families – 1.800.999.9999
Boys Town Suicide and Crisis Line – 1.800.448.3000
Cancer Information Services – 1.800.422.6237
Please check with your local churches for Biblical Counselors and referrals to Support Groups and Hotlines