• Lizzie Astin

Death and Peace


Death is so final.

There will be times when it seems so cruel. You watch someone suffer. There is pain in their eyes, fear, they look small and you hope for them, and for yourself that it will end. You don’t wish for their life to end, you wish for their pain to end; the two have become inextricably linked.

In the last few weeks Mum couldn’t move from one room to another by herself, the oxygen concentrator needed transporting and it was too heavy for her so in essence she was bed bound. Most evenings I would take her into the lounge and we would watch TV, I don’t watch TV normally and I certainly don’t watch Coronation Street or Casualty, but it became our time together.

The symptoms were getting worse, all around us Doctor’s talked of ‘end of life care’, ‘syringe drivers’ and ‘DNR’ but Mum, never outwardly accepted she was dying, it made it impossible for me to accept too. Of course, I didn’t want her to die, I wanted her to get better, but each day as she worsened, I began to accept that maybe she wouldn’t.

3 days before she died we discussed one final treatment option, it was risky, illegal, expensive and un-proven but in the face of things it was our best bet. She admitted she didn’t want to go on ‘like this’. She didn’t give up, but she did acknowledge the reality of her situation.

She slept a lot, she was exhausted. Shuffling in bed was exhausting, getting up to use the commode was exhausting, breathing was hard work, eating was sometimes too much, visits and company could be overwhelming, her focus was getting through each day. Sleep was her solace.

One night, she went to sleep and she didn’t wake up. I don’t know if she knew she was dying then, but it had been a hard day. She had been anxious, worried, in more pain, unable to eat, confused, distant and extremely weak. I saw this being the entrance into what I had read about ‘final days’, I didn’t know it was the final day.

And now, I have this dream and she is alive, but she is not. And I know she is going to die and she says to me, ‘I feel better now, I’d like to try to fight it again’, and I have to explain to her that she has died and it is over. And I have this dream over and over again and I have to tell her, ‘Mum, you can rest now, it’s over’.

Mum fought so long and so hard, I am not sure she is at peace, she never ever gave up and she never ever got so tired that she wanted to die. But even though she protected me from it, I saw the fear and I saw the pain and I know that she is not suffering anymore, her peace will come, when I can find mine.

Death is so final, it is the last option and when it comes you have won your final battle, you are free.


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