What’s Going On In Her Mind

By: Kris Fisher

Last night, my friend lost her mom. She held a vigil at her mother’s bedside for 9 days, watching the struggle for breath, feeling the cooling limbs, staying strong for the other family members. After 9 days, my friend knew she needed to sleep in her own bed for a night, get some rest, gain some perspective. And on that night, her mother slipped to the next life. 


Why did she wait for 9 days? Why did she wait until she was alone? 

What’s hard for me to swallow is that we can’t know the answers to these questions. If they won’t share it with us, we just can’t know what is going on in our mothers’ minds. 

My own mother is not the same as she was two years ago. I suspect dementia is slowly taking her away, but there is still not a diagnosis. And so we wonder and speculate while we visit doctors, try medications, and wait.  

What is clear is that she is changed. Gone is the fierce leader I was afraid of during my growing-up years. She is now insecure, unsure of the best action in the simplest of situations. Gone is the woman who disapproved of my thoughts and decisions. She is now thankful and complimentary at every turn. Instead of it being a pleasant reprieve from the way things used to be, I’m finding it challenging to strike a new way of being with her. I just don’t recognize my mother in this new person. 

And so I want to know what’s going on in her mind. I have questions I want to ask her:  
Do you feel like something is wrong? Are you afraid? Is it okay that I am here by your side? 

And yes, I still want to ask: Do you have any regrets? What do you see when you look at me? Are you proud of who I have become? 

Several years ago, we arrived at a surface level relationship that we both could live with and, while I’d like to find a deeper level of intimacy with her now, I worry that I will scare her away. And maybe I’m still afraid of her rejection.  

I think there is a longing for intimacy found in the daughters of emotionally absent mothers. I thought I had grown away from my yearning for this, but now, as my mother is changing and becoming lost to me in a different way, I find myself craving that intimacy again.  

I’m almost 50 years old and I still want my mommy. I still want her reassurance and acceptance and love. And yet it seems that it is my turn now to give those things to her. To let her know what I see in her: an under-mothered daughter herself, who did the best she could in difficult circumstances; a woman who raised me with a home, adequate clothing, and three square meals a day; a mother who, in good and not-so-good ways, helped me become the woman I am today. And it occurs to me right now that, in spite of the fact that she wasn’t always who I needed or wanted her to be, she did a pretty darn good job. 

5 replies on “What’s Going On In Her Mind”

My Mother suffered a stroke on Good Friday this year. I asked ‘why?’ when sitting with her 5 days & into evening’s she passed when my husband took me home to shower, eat & grab an overnight bag so I could spend that night with her, feeling it was her last. She passed just before we arrived back at the care facility. WHY? 🙁

12 months ago ‘ exactly ‘ the same happened with my ‘ LOVELY MUM ‘ …
friends said ‘ She didn’t
want u to be there ‘ or ‘ She couldn’t go whilst you were there ‘ ?
Pleeeeeease don’t think I am being mean as I am broken-hearted and miss My Mum forever ….
I watched My Mum for 14 days on that driver thing and realised that ‘it’s just the next step’
There’s no choice wether to hang on for this or that …. it’s a journey , a brand new experience and an amazing adventure …..
Don’t be sad , this life is a blip and Your Lovely Mum had to go first so She could be there for You xxxxxxx

Dear Paula,
I am so very sorry for your loss. I know that words cannot lessen your loss or your pain, but I hope you can find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Grief is a difficult journey. Treat yourself gently during these coming months.

Do you have a group of women surrounding you who can relate to your grief? Our ministry exists for this very reason, and if there is anything we can do to provide more support and care for you, please tell us.

I will be praying for you,

I realize I am late to this thread, I just wanted to comment. I am a funeral director and I hear every week of loved ones that wait until family members go for a coffee or a nap, or leave the room to pass away. It is a phenomenon that interests me very much. I think maybe it is that the person can’t bear to have the burdern of having their death witnessed by the family and friends. I would like to hear more stories.

Kathleen, thank you so much for your comment. It seems reassuring to know that it might be more common than we think for a loved one to wait to die until we are not in their presence. I, too, would like to hear from others who have experienced this and what their thoughts are.

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