My grandmother was dying. This much I knew and was at peace with. She had lived a beautiful 86 years and was ready to go to heaven and see loved ones that had already passed on. My sister and I sat on the bed with her for many hours the last week of her life. I would rub her hands, wash her face with a warm cloth, sing to her, tell her some of my favorite memories and sometimes simply hold the quiet space as she slept.
She began sleeping more and more to the point that she was not waking up at all. I welcomed this transition as I knew that this was bringing her closer to her homecoming. I let myself grieve that I would never hear her voice again, see her smile or be hugged by the arms that had always meant unconditional love.
As a person enters the last phase of the dying process it is not their possessions that they talk about... It is relationships. It is family. It is love.
Then, she woke up. She smiled and began to tell me about loved ones that were in heaven and that she was going to them. She wanted to hear about her sons and ensure they were at peace in this life without her. She then asked about each of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I laid beside her, held her hand and ensured her that we are all going to be okay. That we all love each other, would care for each other and remember her always. The tears flowed from my eyes while my grandmother had a look of complete peace and assurance. I told her that I loved her so much and she turned to me and said, “I love you more.” Those were the last words she ever spoke. She passed away the next day in complete peace as my sister and I sang Amazing Grace over her.
During the dying process many people experience what is called “rallying” or simply a time where they become lucid after what could be many days or weeks of not waking up or being coherent. Those that study death and dying are not exactly sure how or why this happens. As a hospice social worker for many years I have had the honor of being present during some of these times. It is my belief that it is God’s last reminder to us of what is important.
... she gave me the gift of reminding me what truly matters. Love is always the answer.
As a person enters the last phase of the dying process it is not their possessions that they talk about nor the job they held or the money they made. It is relationships. It is family. It is love. I believe that this time is a reminder to us that family, friends, how we treat and love one another; this is what matters in the end. This and only this is worthy of discussing in the final moments.
My grandmother honored me by allowing me to be a part of this time and I will always remember the love she had for each of us. As she was standing at the gates of heaven she gave me the gift of reminding me what truly matters. Love is always the answer.