How can we show our love for our mothers?
Here’s a Mother’s Day gift idea filled with planning, preparation, kindness, compassion, and wholehearted love.
I believe that the reality of our mortality is the most powerful tool for inspiring us to live and love fully. There is only now, this moment, we cannot be certain of the future. With these ideas in mind, it is crucial for all of us to prepare for our inevitable death. We may be able to be more present, compassionate, and supportive during our loved one’s time before death if we enter into the work of talking about death and dying, and love and living. One of the greatest gifts I can give to those I love is dignity, presence, and following their wishes at a time of great vulnerability, in the dying process.
Having the conversation(s) about how you (and perhaps others) will care for your mom and how she wants to live the remainder of her life—the quality of life she desires— is a very special experience. I believe that it’s one of the most important discussions you’ll ever have with her.
I understand completely that there may be challenges to engaging in this dialogue:
- Making time to think through which questions you need to ask to become clear about your mother’s wishes
- Imagining how to have the conversation—from the introduction of the subject through to a successful conclusion
- Answering the questions you are asking for yourself too, as your loved ones need to know those answers (and your answers may provide ideas for conversation with your mom)
- Deciding together who else needs to know about your mother’s wishes so that all who might be called to act on them are clear and will honor them
(This intimate exchange may also be the time to share your thoughts about what you desire—or it may be too much for either one of you, and better left for another time (soon). Are you clear in your own mind about what you want? Are you able to explain it to your loved ones? Having legal documents (a will, power of attorney documentation, and Advanced Care Plans) is critically important. Of equal import is the conversations that make the documents come alive and provide clarity through specificity for those who may be placed in the position of making decisions.)
While we don’t want to think about life without our loved ones, we know that we need to be prepared for it. How would you feel if something suddenly happened and you didn’t know what your mother wanted you/your family to do?
Preparing for the conversation
Remember your purpose in creating the space for this conversation, it is the desire to learn about what your mother would want when, not if, her body fails her.
Speak from your heart. Listen from your heart too.
Here are some questions that may help you imagine this conversation. I have provided answers that I give about my wishes, in the hope they will be of support.
“What would you want me to do for you if you got so sick that you couldn’t talk to me? What would you want from your medical care? What would be important to you at that time?”
“I don’t want any aggressive treatment, I just want you to let me go.”
What exactly does that mean?
“If it was something temporary, reversible, and I could resume my life, communicating with others, being awake, and alert, then that type of measure would be acceptable. But no tracheostomy, ventilator, no nursing home.
You know I am a very active person, I love that about my life. My family and friends, my art, travel, volunteering, my connection to my spiritual community, and my work are everything to me. I would hate a prolonged dying process and drawn-out dependency on others. I seek to live life well every day.”
While I can understand that those who love me might want to care for me and yet I could not do well without my independence. If I cannot care for myself and enjoy my life then I would want only comfort until I die.”
“I will never leave you. I live on in you.”
If you want support in this delicate and important process, please reach out to me for conversation and resources.
* This gift is meant for everyone. Think of the special people in your life and consider having these heart-opening conversations about living life fully and planning for the end of life.
Find the right time—but don’t wait for the perfect time.
PS: Next week I will circle back and share my completed visual from last week’s post!