"What If I Went to the Office the Day My Mom Died?"


"What If I Went to the Office the Day My Mom Died?"

I wrote this headline last July during my mom's five-week hospitalization.

road-366797_640I work for myself which meant I had flexibility and could be available much of the time.

Because I work for myself, I also have clients which depend on me to show up. And, if I don't show up, I don't get paid. I have to get paid.

During my mom's hospitalization, I traveled out of town three times--twice to deliver presentations and once to attend a "think tank" meeting about caregiving issues. I cut my "think tank" trip short by one day because of my mom's emergency surgery. Last March, the day after my dad returned home from surgery to remove his bladder, kidney and prostate because of cancer, I left for another out-of-town "think tank" meeting.

During my parents' declines, I wanted to keep my career moving forward. I also needed to make money. But, I sometimes wondered how I would feel if my mom did die during one of trips.

I remembered this headline today because of a heart-breaking story I read today in The New York Times: "A Baby Dies in Day Care and Mother Wonders Why She Had to Leave Him So Soon."

I don't have any answers on how we figure out how to pay our bills while we care for our family members. I do know that we often worry about making these truly dreadful decisions: Will my caree be okay after I leave because I have to leave?

We do our best. We do our best to accept we can't control life's timing. We do our best to put plans in place so all will be okay in our absence. We do our best to prepare ourselves for what could be, knowing we could soon be second-guessing a decision. We do our best to make wise choices even when we feel we don't have a choice.

It's another nuance to that caregiving conundrum of trying to keep your life during a life of caregiving.

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Like Mary, I was also part-way through a vacation when my Mom passed - I was skiing with my husband and kids. Mom had been on hospice for a year and a half, and ill for many years prior to that, so it was not unexpected but we certainly couldn't predict the timing, either. Overall I thought it was safe to go since I could easily hop on a plane to get to her. Mother Nature had other plans and created a huge snowstorm that shut down the airports both at my vacation location as well as Mom's location. When I got the call one morning that the end was near, I couldn't leave where I was, and even if I could, I couldn't get to her. We awkwardly sat in our condo most of the day, unsure of what to do and how to feel. She passed peacefully in the middle of the night, while more & more snow fell at our location. The next morning, pondering this odd predicament with my husband and kids, we finally decided that if we were going to be stuck there, we would enjoy it...so we skied. I know in my heart that is what Mom would have wanted us to do. Locals said it was the best snow they had all season. I don't think that was a coincidence...although I have always felt bad for not being by her side when she passed, I do take comfort in knowing that she would have preferred that I was off doing something with my husband and kids.


There's no perfect good-bye. Our loved ones wantnus to have a life. When my mother-in-law was in the final stages of a fast-moving cancer, my husband and I had to decide whether to cancel a long-overdue vacation. We debated, talked with family, and decided to go. She passed about halfway through our trip. We spent time with her and other family before we left and were back for services. It was priceless to have that time together to rest and reflect. No regrets.