"It was the richest period of my life"

"It was the richest period of my life"

Life & Death Matters Post

Mom died on January 16th, two months and one week after being diagnosed with a terminal cancer.  We often talked of Joanne Lynn’s phrase “the blessing of a thoroughly dismal prognosis”. She referred to that blessing almost daily.

Mom described this as being the richest period of her life.  She determined what she would do and how she would live her last months.  She gathered her kids from across the globe, celebrated Christmas with marvelous foods and feasts, enjoyed short visits with a few close friends, savored emails, tied up loose ends, expressed love and enjoyed closure.  She hoped for and enjoyed the arrival of her sister just days before she died.

On Gabriola Island she was supported by the home care nurses, community pharmacist, medical office assistants, and a wonderful family doctor. She received the provincial palliative benefits including an electric bed!

At 81, as a life-long learner, she exchanged learning to use “Photoshop”, “Simply Accounting” and her computerized sewing machine to learn about dying. She faced death with curiousity. She talked about openly about dying.

As a professional teacher, a life-long fabric artist, she spoke less in the last months of fiber and fabrics and introduced me instead to artistry in dying.

Mom was a master planner – the calendar was booked months in advance. She planned events, attended to details, determined parameters and identified her preferences. Then death came – uninvited and unplanned. Clear communication of a ‘thoroughly dismal prognosis” enabled her to make decisions about things that were in her control, as well as decision of how to deal with that which was out of her control.  As death neared she said “I could not have planned it better….This has been the richest time of my life.”

Mom and me and medications.... (This raises an interesting question... Can you separate being a hospice nurse from being a daughter? To be explored in another posting...)





9 Responses

  1. Kath
    sincere condolences on the loss of your mom.
    Thank you for sharing such a rich and hopeful story of how she faced her own death. Such inspiration, strength and wisdom…………easy to see where YOU get your incredible insight and approach to this subject which scares and sometimes paralyzes many of us.
    God bless.

  2. Kath, What a beautiful picture of your mother and yourself. You look so much like her! I have often thought of you and your mom and wondered how you both were doing.
    Thank you for sharing such a touching and meaningful story.
    Many blessings,

  3. I love the photo of both of you and can see your youngest son in your eyes, for me it’s a 3 generation shot.

  4. Kath, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am 1 year out since I said goodbye to my father-in-law after being his care provider for the past 7 years and as I rummaged through things this past week closing up various boxes for distribution to the local shelter, I came across your “Essentials of Palliative Care” book and I had to stop. I came by your work as I assisted my Mother-in Law leave us 6.5yrs ago, and I found that I had marked things that I should ask Doctors, and refer to as I saw to her husbands needs in her absence.
    Thank you for information that was not only direct and accurate, but also written in such a way that a layman could understand. I followed the lead of your writings to a peaceful and happy passing that days and months latter I am still grateful to have had a part in it. Yes, I miss them both and that will probably never change, but you provided me the help I needed to assist them in making critical decisions when they were still able to do so. Keep up the great and meaningful work of helping those at greatest risk from a medical system that does not always respond in ways that honors and respects their wishes and intents.

  5. Again Kath Sorry about your mom however you where with her and like a true mom she kept on teaching right to the end. Looking after her was a way of honoring her.
    take care

  6. How lovely that you had that kind of a relationship with your mother. It made for such a rich and rewarding experience for you and I’m sure for her as well. Just hearing of it enriched mine.

  7. Hi Kath,
    I found you! I have often thought of you, and wondered where in the world you have been. I knew your Mum through brother Greg and Sharon on Gabriola, and appreciated so much the time I was privileged to spend with her. I wish I had known her better.

    Did she learn from you as we did at ProCare? I appreciated having you come to us then, and have heard from people who attended those sessions how much more able they are to support people who are dying.

    Kath, I’m so glad I found you! I hope that you are doing well – I’d love to know what part of the world you are living in now!

    Love to you and your family,
    Thank you,


    1. Pam
      Lovely to hear from you.
      Thanks for responding to the blog, and for touching base again! It has been many years since I taught for you at ProCare. If I remember correctly we did a course in Burnaby together. Wonderful.
      We will be in touch off line… 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From Our Blog

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping

Join now to receive tips and insights on providing palliative care.

Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

Skip to content