A Final Farewell

My mother in law passed away just after midnight on Sunday morning. Her death was expected, but occurred more quickly than the doctors had predicted.

She was admitted to the hospital Friday due to another UTI and severe dehydration. She was septic and her kidneys had shut down.

The doctors recommended a slow rehydration process to lower her sodium levels and hopefully get her kidneys going again, along with a broad spectrum antibiotic to treat her UTI. They said we would know more after 24 hours.

Fast forward to Saturday. Her kidneys still weren’t working, and dialysis is semi invasive and could be permanent. She still hadn’t woken up, although my husband and I both swear we heard her call for her mom.

My brother in law joined us at the hospital for a family meeting with the doctors. There were still treatment options, but none that would improve her quality of life. Between her dementia and the weakness that would come from a weeks long ICU stay, as a family we requested comfort care.

Comfort care is not hospice. There was a chance she could get better. Her heart rate was highly elevated, but her blood pressure and breathing were fine. The doctors had told us to expect a timeline of 3-7 days before she passed.

We came home so Rob could take Hannah to the Daddy/Daughter dance. We figured we would sleep and then head to the hospital in the morning. I checked on her at 10:52pm and she stable. They had given her Valium 2 hours earlier because of anxious breathing, but she had exhibited no signs of pain, so nothing else.

By 11:20pm things had changed dramatically. We received a call that her heart had stopped, but then restarted on its own. Her nurse advised us to come to the hospital and say our final goodbyes.

Unfortunately, the hospital is an hour away. When I called at 11:36pm to find out what entrance to use when we arrived, she was stable and doing well.

Then at 12:08am I received another call. My sweet mother in law had passed 4 minutes ago. We were still 20 minutes away. 💔

The hospital was kind enough to let us come anyway. They ordered us a bereavement cart and put on soothing music. There were 7 of us in there to say a final farewell. We cried for her loss. We cried at the awfulness that it happened on my brother in law’s birthday. And we cried because we were relieved.

I know how bad that sounds, but her passing so quickly reassured us that we had made the right decision. She was ready. It was time.

The dementia had taken so much from her. She couldn’t live in her house, or even with us anymore. She couldn’t drive or walk. She couldn’t remember who we were most of the time anymore.

She spent 4 1/2 years in my home as her condition worsened. It wasn’t always easy, but I have no regrets. We crammed a lot of adventures and love into those years. And our final gifts to her was to let her go in peace without tubes and machines trying to give her one more day.

Rest in heaven Sue. Thank you for calling me your daughter and never adding the “in law”. Thank you for raising the man who completes me. Thank you for sharing your smile and your laughter. Thank you for letting me take a million pictures so that Hannah will have an easier time remembering you. Until we meet again, know that we love you and we miss you.


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