What I was and was not prepared for at the end of my mother’s life
Rarely does a career choice perfectly prepare you for the final illness and death of a parent. As an elder law attorney, I was armed with the knowledge and experience I needed to help my mother as she neared the end of her life. When my mother was diagnosed with a degenerative disease, I was well versed in how to manage her finances, choose medical providers, navigate Medicare issues, hire caregivers, and make health decisions. And so many other things I have helped others do many times. As an attorney, I had it under control.
As the youngest daughter of a wonderful and warm and loving mother, I was not prepared to watch my vibrant mother decline. The woman who at age 80 still walked 10,000 steps per day could no longer take a single step unassisted. I was not prepared for her to no longer be alive. My brain is still processing that I watched her breathe her last breath.
Now that she is gone, as an attorney, I know how to manage her final financial affairs like I have done for others so many times.
What is different is the pain I feel at each step. Clearing her house of her possessions has been the most difficult. The box of Christmas ornaments I have been putting on her tree since the 1970’s, and her Christmas stocking! The old, worn pajamas I remember her wearing as I sat on her lap as a child. The knit hat that still has a few stray hairs from the last times she wore it. The beautiful grandmother of the bride dress still hanging in her closet.
In the past I have met with grieving family members on many occasions. I was mindful of their grief, and represented them with kindness and sympathy. Now I will forever understand the profound grief of losing a wonderful mother.
And so today, the day I signed all of the paperwork to sell my mother’s home, the home that she designed and built to all of her tastes, I am grieving. When I thought there were no more tears, I am again mourning the beautiful person who was my mother. I will carry this feeling in my heart, knowing that some of my clients will be in mourning of the beautiful people in their lives.