The Network of Grief

Mom on the Farm

Mom on the Farm

I’ve always been a solitary griever, even as a kid.  I hate to have people see me cry so when I’m hurting, I go off by myself where I can let all the hurt and pain out until I’m spent.  Since Mom isn’t in a private room in the nursing home, I don’t have that luxury.  My grief has been out there for all to see.  Just the other day, I was sitting by Mom’s bedside crying and a new nurse’s aide walked past the room, did a double-take and came in the door.

“Are you alright, Honey?” she asked.  “Do you want me to get someone?”

“Am I alright?” I thought.  “How the hell do you think I am?  My mother is lying here dying?”

Instead I said, “I’m just an emotional person.  I’ll be fine.  Just go on with what you were doing.”

I’m beginning to see, though, that there is a certain network to this grieving process.  Friends and family email me or leave encouraging messages for me on Facebook.   Some call and share memories they have of their time with Mom.  I hate talking on the phone but I sense their need to share so I listen and appreciate their support.  Each encouraging message and reminder that prayers are being lifted up is cherished, even though they make me cry.    I’m tired of fighting the tears.  They’re just going to keep on coming until they don’t.  How’s that for an astute observation?

Mom and Laddie, a beloved pet.

Mom and Laddie, a beloved pet.

Today there was no change in Mom.  If anything, she looked more sunken into herself.  I checked with the nurses’ station and she has entirely stopped eating.  They are still able to get some fluids down her so at least she hasn’t stopped drinking.  Again, she slept through the entire visit although she seemed to be dreaming, as I could see her eyes moving under her eyelids.

Her roommate, June, is sitting up in her wheelchair when I arrive.  I sit down beside her and June asks me, “Is she alright?”

“No, June, I’m afraid she isn’t,” I respond.

“Oh, I was afraid of that,” she replies.  “She’s been so quiet.  You know, I always watch out for her.  If she’s cold, I make sure she’s covered up with a blanket and I move over to just sit beside her so she knows I’m there.”

June pauses for a few minutes.  “It’s a terrible thing to lose a mother,” she says.

“Yes, it is,” I say.

“I miss mine so much, even after all these years,” she tells me.

I ask her if her mother was from around here and she tells me that her mom came from north of here and that they grew up on a farm.  I share that Mom also grew up on a farm and we share stories about life on a farm.  June laughs as she tells me about her pet pig and I laugh as I tell her the story of how my grandfather decided to stop raising pigs.

I glance over at June and see that tears are rolling down her cheeks so I hand her a kleenex.  For awhile I sit there, stroking Mom’s head with one hand and stroking June’s arm with my other hand.

Faithful Friends

Faithful Friends

A nurse comes in to take June to an activity and June tells her how sad she is that Mom is gone.

“What!” says the nurse.

“Oh, no, June.  Mom is still here,” I reassure her.  “She’s just failing.  Go ahead and go to your activity.  She’ll be ok.  I’ll be back tomorrow to see you both.”

They leave and I lean over and whisper the words that I’ve been afraid to say.

“You know, Mom, if you’re ready to go home and see Grandma and Daddy, it’s ok.  I’ll miss you terribly but I’ll be alright.  Don’t stay here for me.  When you’re ready, you go.  I just want you to know that I love you so much and that you have been the best mother that anyone could ever have.”

I head out, solitary in my grief and yet surrounded by the love and prayers of so many.




  • karyn hutchinson

    I’m glad you have so many loving friends to gather around you in this time. Know that I, too, from so many miles away, am thinking of you and praying for your comfort and also for your Mom – to somehow know you are there.

    • Dee Porterfield

      Thanks so much, Karyn. I really appreciate your encouragement and prayers.

  • Judy

    From across the miles- I know this is very hard for you. You and your mom are always in my mind, and in my heart. Love to you both.


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