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A Year Without My Mom

Brianna is a working mom with 25 years of general life experience. She has a little girl and several exotic pets.

I lost my mother about a year ago to multiple health problems and had to make the worst and hardest decision of my life. This article will touch on how I’ve gotten through the grieving process and my life without my mom being in it.

My Background

I feel like it is important that I give a little bit of my personal backstory to put this article into perspective.

I was born in 1994 to a very young mother of 16 years. She decided it would be best for me to ask her parents to adopt me, and they said yes. So when I was less than a year old, my grandparents signed the papers and became my new mom and dad. My grandma couldn’t have kids of her own and saw this as a blessing and a sign that I was meant to be her baby.

In 1995, they moved the three of us to Tennessee while my birth mother stayed in Ohio with her birth mom. I was raised in the Nashville area until we moved to East Tennessee in 2008.

I had a very sheltered childhood and was afraid of quite a few things, but my biggest fear was getting in trouble. Romantic relationships and friendships were hard to keep since I wasn’t allowed to do most things.

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Mom’s Health Issues

My mom (grandma) had a lot of health problems. In her mid-to-late 20s, she had ovarian cancer that resulted in a full hysterectomy to remove all of her infected female organs. Later in life, she developed diabetes, which led to kidney failure, liver failure, a very weak immune system, and a plethora of medications. Near the end, she had died and was brought back to life a few times, and her mental state was deteriorating drastically.

The Call and a Difficult Choice

In the final stretch of her life, she was living in a nursing home for a majority of her time and was in and out of the hospital. One day, I got a call from the nursing home letting me know that she was acting very strangely and that they called an ambulance to take her to the emergency room.

She was unconscious when I finally got to go see her. She had a very bad infection in her lungs and was hooked up to a large amount of machines keeping her alive. A few days went by before they tried to get her breathing on her own, but to no avail. They pulled my dad and me into a small conference room with a counselor to discuss the options of keeping her on the machines for an unknown amount of time (most likely the rest of her life) or to go ahead and “pull the plug.”

The Decision

After lots of tears, we decided to go ahead and stop the life support. The doctors were going to move her into a quiet and comfortable room to spend the rest of her time in. Both the doctors and my father thought she would have a little longer than she did.

The nurses and doctor removed the tubes and prepared her to move. Dad went to take care of the dog, and I was left alone. I just talked to her and tried to let her know how much a love her.

She passed with her hand in mine. I didn’t realize it in the moment, though, because she had a pacemaker installed in her chest. (Her brain died of oxygen deficiency before her heart did.) After dad came back, they turned her pacemaker off.

Everything became very still in the room. I could feel my own heart stop.

The rest of that night was a blur. The doctors and nurses offered their condolences and gave my dad and me a moment. We left after a few minutes and told them which funeral home to send her body to.

I don’t remember the drive home.

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My Support System

I consider myself very lucky to have such a loving family. My boyfriend knew when I got home what had happened. He wasn’t able to come with me because he had to watch our baby. Lots of hugs and kisses from him and our daughter made me feel slightly better. My birth mom came into town to help with the arrangements and has stepped in a lot when it comes to being my mother again.

The many phone calls between all of us became more manageable. We had her body cremated. There was no service because Mom always said she didn’t want one.

Reminders of My Late Mom

I have many things that serve as a reminder of my moms life and death. I got a necklace with an impression of her thumbprint (pictured above) from the funeral home. There is a false candle with a picture of her printed on it placed on a small shelf. I have so many pictures of her online and in frames. And, of course, I have my memories of all of us together.

Mourning

A lot of the mourning that I’ve done I had already gone through for her multiple times. As mentioned before, she had died multiple times before, and each time, I went through each step in the grieving process.

That's not to say I didn’t cry or feel emotional pain, but it was a lost less than most people would experience if they suddenly had someone taken from them. Going back to work helped keep my mind off of everything as well. My family and friends helped significantly.

A Year Later

I still get sad and miss my mom from time to time, and I think about her a lot, but I have learned many things in the year without her.

  1. I've learned that I am very bad with money without her yelling at me about saving it.
  2. I've learned how to not freak out when I get lost or when something goes wrong.
  3. I’ve learned that I have the best of friends.
  4. I've learned that my birth mother is really a fantastic mom.

I'm sure there are many other things that I’ve learned in this year, and things that I will continue to learn. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!

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