My mother’s journey came to an abrupt end yesterday but mine is ongoing. I was on my way to work when the call from the social worker came in informing that Mom was in the active stages of dying.

My first question was, “right now?” and she answered in the affirmative.

Suddenly, my plans were altered. I found the nearest exit and began to make phone calls to family, friends and coworkers. My boss asked if she could meet me there, and I said, “Yes”, and gave her the address. Normally, I would not have done that but the need was so great that I put aside my own ego and let her into my private world of pain and grief. It was such a blessing having her there by my side.

As a caregiver, you start letting go long before the person has left you. The term for this is called ambiguous grief. Books are now being written about this phenomenon, but it is all too real. My mother and I first shifted roles which required me to take care of her. Any struggles that I had were kept to myself and was not shared with her. Then came the separation feelings. This has made the final parting a bit more bearable. She was ready to go, and I was ready to let go.

Being a caregiver means letting go of what you want and letting the person you are caring for do what is best for them. Once my mom made the choice to separate from this world there was no more talk of cures or false promises. Reality has yet to set in, and that will be its own struggle. For her the struggles are over, but the cause that she represented still continues. Caregiving and giving in general is a worthwhile cause and one that is near and dear to my heart.

By Jantell Cansler