Dear Barbara, Being a nurse for 39 years has not prepared me for the emotional pain of watching my mother fade away. Due to Covid we are not allowed to visit her. Zoom calls weekly have helped. I’m having a tough time not being able to be there with my Mom. We will be allowed to come into the nursing home when she starts to actively die. How can we better cope with this new reality?
Having a mom in the dying process is a challenge in itself. Having a mom in the process of dying during Covid restrictions is almost unbearable. I am so sorry this is the life situation your family is facing.
Ideas: you might start keeping a journal. Write all of your thoughts and feeling down each day. You need an outlet for the frustration and feelings of helplessness that you have. Just getting them out, on paper, will help a bit. There is something relieving about channeling thoughts, feeling, tears, through your fingers onto paper.
Zooming is certainly helpful but know as she progresses toward death she will not be able to respond, even to know you. Continue the zooming and talking to her even when she is non responsive. Have the nursing facility staff hold the phone or tablet in front of her so you can see her but then have them just put the speaker to her ear and you talk to her from your heart. She won’t respond and probably won’t show any signs that she is aware of what you are saying BUT know she hears. Have the nurse hold her hand as you talk and you say “This is my representative, Mom, I’m holding your hand. I am with you.”
A teacher once told me” thoughts are things”, so at home sit in your favorite chair, close your eyes, and picture yourself at your mom’s bedside. Hold her, lay with her, whatever is comfortable for you in your mind and then begin talking with her. Tell her whatever your heart leads you to do and say.
Do this whenever you feel the need to talk with her. This “mind talking” doesn’t take the place of being there but it is powerful for us in a time of lost opportunities.
Something More... about Mom's Dying Alone And It's Unbearable
Since your mother is in a nursing home, you may not be provided with education on what to expect during the dying process. I suggest my End of life Guideline Series. This series is a compilation of my top five booklets covering the dying process, pain at end of life and the grief experience. You may also hop on Vimeo to view my video, NEW RULES for End of Life Care.