I know this is so long compared to others and I’m really sorry for this but I just need to offload somewhere. I’m hoping that by doing this it may give me a little bit of a break in my head and heart later. I have been very descriptive so please do not read on if you don’t feel you can.
My 75 year old mum passed away on the 1st of March suddenly from a ruptured aortic aneurysm. I knew she was poorly but the doctors only had her on a yearly review and said that she had a few years before they would need to do surgery to repair it and she would be ok. Unknown to me she fibbed to her doctors about her bad habits of still smoking her licorise paper rollies every day and regularly having a few tipples. This meant that the timeline the doctors worked out and that we were given was completely incorrect.
Unfortunately my mum suffered with polymyalgia, arthritisp, COPD, osteoarthritis, anxiety, OCD and severe mental health problems for a number of years. Every day life was a battle and I admired her strength. When COVID-19 arrived and we all went into lockdowns she found it increasingly difficult being alone and secluded (we couldn’t see her because she was so vulnerable). She often said to me on the telephone “I want to be able to give you a mummy hug” and she hated that COVID took her ability to be my mum away from her. She hated losing her freedom and independence. Her bad habits got worse and she started not eating properly, staying up all night and sleeping through the day and for such a usually routined person she now had none. I guess really she kind of gave up.
I’m 39 and spoke to my mum nearly every day, and i will be the first to admit i was a mummy’s girl. She was both my mum and my dad due to the absence of my father for many years (and still) so when she died I felt/feel orphaned. She lived just a mile down the road from me.
Suffering with mental health problems for most of my own adult life I only really spoke to my mum. I was very lucky to have her as a best friend, we shared many interests especially gardening, nature and animals. We talked for hours putting the world to rights, discussing history, geography and politics.
The day before my mum died we spoke on the phone for over an hour. It was a beautiful sunny day and she was going to pop up just to sit in my garden (socially distanced) but she said she needed to catch up with rose pruning etc and agreed to meet in the week.
She told me and my partner on the phone later in the afternoon/evening that she had pain in her abdomen that was quite uncomfortable- we of course told her to call the doctors but she just dismissed it saying she thought it was “just wind or something trivial”.
Like many on here I’m sure - the day she died repeats in my mind like an old vinyl record on repeat and never stopping. It’s like self torture that I’m powerless to stop and always so fresh and painful. I find myself at times screaming silently at my own thoughts to stop thinking of things that hurt me so much.
My mum had a life alarm (piper alarm) that she wore which automatically connected to emergency services who then would ring me- 7am on the 1st of March I awoke earlier than normal and something told me to check my phone. I noticed missed calls from a number I didn’t recognise and then a missed call from my mum- my IPhone put itself in do-not-disturb/night mode and didn’t let the calls ring through. So by the time I got to my mums at about 7:30 the paramedics were already there. My mum was conscious but in a considerable amount of pain in her abdomen, they said the ecgs were ok but because of her aneurysm problems they would need to take her in to be xrayed etc and see what was going on inside. My mum even walked herself to the ambulance (with the help of the paramedics), handing me her unused sick bucket to wash!
They made her comfortable in the ambulance and she asked them if I could come with her but they said because of the COVID restrictions I was not aloud. Which we were both not pleased about. They told me to call in the hospital for an update in a couple of hours and took mine and my partners telephone numbers.
I said to my mum “I love you Mummy” and she said “I love you too Darling”.
Just after 10am a doctor called me from A&E. He asked if I knew mum was taken to hospital. I explained that i was due to call into them but he stopped me in mid speech. He paused and said there’s “no easy way or nice way to put this and I need to be honest, but I’m afraid it’s the worst possible outcome for your mum”. “Your mum isn’t going to make it, we scanned the aorta heart valve and found the aneurysm in her abdomen has ruptured and was leaking blood into her chest cavity”. The doctor said he sort advice on her condition but because it had ruptured it was already too late.
The doctor said the family should come in immediately and see her and say their goodbyes. He explained she was comfortable, had morphine so she wasnt in pain and they gave her a blood transfusion to try and keep her going a bit longer.
I’m sure so many of us here have experienced similar words and news and can understand the shock, distraught feeling and disbelief that it brings.
Within half an hour my partner and i had picked up my brother and arrived at A&E (it took us about 10 minutes to find somewhere to park). We were taken to a room where the doctor met us. He sat us down and said “I’m really sorry but the worst has happened…your mum passed away about 5 minutes ago”.
He said she was peaceful and not in pain, she had been fully aware of what was going on and was aware that she was going to die imminently. Because the paramedics had the wrong telephone number for me and my partner written down my mum even managed to recite both our numbers in full to their amazement. After contacting us the doctor told my mum that we were all on our way. She was apparently talking and lucid. They explained that just she was talking about her time in Peru, and her life story, and that she had still been smoking her rollies despite being told not to for many decades. She told them that she felt very tired and her head was very muddled. The DRs explained that was because she was dying, to which she said “well it had to happen sooner or later”. The DR asked if she was in pain to which she said “no, not for the first time in so many years”. Mum knew we were on our way. Apparently shortly after that, she fell unconscious and died, drifted off peacefully.
A nurse called Josh was holding her hand when she went. It should have been me though. It was my right and my duty as her daughter and best friend, she brought me into the world and I should have been with her at the end. I wanted to be there so she knew how loved she was and I wanted to say goodbye properly. There were things I needed her to know before she went…
COVID robbed me of my goodbye
I saw her lieing on the bed peaceful, dead. Her dressing-gown placed over her sheets. I just held her hand, there was some warmth left before the body death set in fully. I stroked her hand and gentley squeezed it, played with her finger tips - I wanted her to squeeze my hand back so so so badly, I just wanted to feel her grip my hand like she used to. I wanted her to wake up, i wanted my mummy. I kissed her forehead, spoke in her ear, stroked her soft hair. I didn’t want to let go off her, I hugged her and I held on to her hand for as long as I could until I was made to go. As I left my mum was cold…but she was at peace finally.
My mum was in pain constantly both mentally and physically throughout her life and hated that she was losing her independence (and her teeth). She refused to get a mobile phone and hated technology, calling herself a technophobe. The world with COVID and how it would move forward terrified her. She joked at times “well if COVID doesn’t kill me my aneurysm will”.
My pain is constant and my heart continually breaks and I just feel like I can’t cope with missing her so much.
I had to sort through my mums bungalow as soon as it happened to be able to hand it back to the counsel 4 weeks later. I had to organise the funeral, her finances etc. I have many of her belongings in a lockup that I am paying for and in nearly every room of my house.
Each day I try to sort something but it’s all still so raw and I’m emotionally attached so much of her things that I remember from my childhood and don’t want to let go of. My mum had been hoarding especially over lockdown so it’s been even trickier. She hadn’t processed any of my grans (her mother’s) belongings from when she passed away 4 years before so I’ve been dealing with that too. Some very very old items that I have no idea about the family history. Some things were my great grand mothers and are 100+ years old. I’ve had my mums dressing gown at the end of my bed since the day she passed so that I can hug it every day. Her 3 teddybears by my pillow.
Everything is taking time and everything is still so raw. I cant even hold my partners hand as it just flashes me straight back to holding my mums hand the day she died.
I thought I had more with her, to learn more to share memories but all I have now is the pain and immense guilt. I didn’t realise how poorly she really was, how much she was drinking or smoking, or hoarding etc as because of COVID I had not been able to really go in her house. I was impatient when she asked me to do what I thought were unnecessarily urgent tasks like pruning her trees- to me nothing but because of her mental state at the time those things would have really eaten at her. Things like moving a bathroom rail up an inch because the towel sat too close to the sink- helping her weed her beloveded garden. It didn’t seem that important or urgent to me but really thinking back she probably absolutely hated having to ask and I probably made it worse by not doing it or not when she needed it. It was only when I started to clear out her bungalow and garden that I realised how poorly she was and how much she had been struggling and she kept that hidden.
I had a 40ft flower bed added to my garden so that I could try and save some of her amazing established plants from her garden and took over one hundred pots of plants of hers. Her garden was her world and the fact that I’m a gardener and couldn’t even find the time through my own mental health to help her tears me apart.
I have spoke to Cruse but they only offer telephone help and that’s not something I am comfortable with doing at all and even that has a waiting list. This is why I’ve come here now.
I’ve only just managed to get an urn for her ashes in the last week so she has been at the funeral directors this whole time. We were meant to collect her on Thursday but the funeral directors made a big boo boo and gave us back an empty urn! They only realised the next day (yesterday) that they had forgotten to put her ashes in there and called me straight away. I mean as if it’s not all distressing enough.
I’m sorry for such a long descriptive one- just writing it and putting my pain out there is a baby step forward for me as I’m such a closed book normally but since losing my mum I feel like a little lost vulnerable girl who hasn’t stopped searching for their mummy.