Writing 101, Day Twelve – the truth or not the truth when dying!

Writing 101, Day Twelve (Virtual) Dark clouds on the horizon!

Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction. Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

– Ernest Hemingway

So I have been struggling a little bit with these challenges, firstly they come out gone 3pm my time and with children it is impossible to write until the next morning as they have come and understandably want attention.

Secondly by the time the next day has arisen all the other people in the challenge on US time zone are fed up of reading other peoples posts and have nigh on given up, which means for us on Euro time zones posting the next day get very little feedback from others in the challenge, which is one of the essential things when doing a ‘writing’ challenge is to get feedback especially from others in the same predicament.

Thirdly but not least, this has taught me that I cogitate my material much like a cow chewing cud.  I simply cannot write fiction off pat, not unless my mind does a somersault which is never and also if non fiction I still find it very hard to ‘just’ retort a post quickly to a challenge, so there we are, now two days behind.

I had a subject in mind for this days challenge but because of the subject nature, it was something I had to mul over as to how I was going to present it, if in fact I did present it 🙂

The truth or not the truth when dying

My mother suffered an un-diagnosed illness for a long time, left un-diagnosed due to negligence from her local GP, of whom fully admitted this when a final diagnosis was made, by which time too late.

She had cancer, riddled with it in fact.

But the bit that caused her pain was a tumour the size of a grapefuit sitting over her pelvis which caused her to be unable to eat properly, to control her bowels, to walk etc, pretty hideous really.

When I was told she initially had cancer they said six months, it turned out to be five weeks.

She went from a hospital to a hospice, they told me at the time to get her in to a fit state so that she could spend some time at home near her best friend.  I was in fact moving home for her during this period to be nearer her friends.

I went about organizing for some disability items to be put in, ie changing the bath, shower etc.  I spoke to this in passing to the nurses at the hospice.  They pulled me aside and said with a kind yet reserved expression “don’t spend money on doing these things, your mother is not going to be leaving here I am afraid”.

They knew this all along, I did not, that was conversation No1 that will always stick in my head.  Finality was on it’s way.

I never spoke to my mother about the fact she was dying, she never did to me, I never to her.  There was always this air of optimism that life would continue and she would get to move house near to her friends which she had wished for such a long time, having been residing in a very secluded bungalow up on a hill.

You have to make these decisions as an only child, and it just became a ‘natural’ thing that we never spoke about it.  When a doctor crudely started to talk in front of her about how much longer she had left, as if she was not there, I pulled him aside, to shield her from this news.

However, one day the nurses took me aside, they said “Justine, you need to allow your mother to let go, she is holding on to life because she worries about you, worries whether you will be alright.  You need to let her know that you will manage that you will be happy, tell her it is alright to go”.

I hesitated, my mind whirling because we had never discussed this, I didn’t want to talk about it, it seemed wrong, but the nurses were telling me to.

So I walked in to the room, sat by her bed, held her hand.  My whole head felt like it might burst, summoning the courage to say what I was going to say.

I said “mummy I want to talk to you, I want to tell you that you know I am going to be alright, you don’t need to worry about me, you don’t need to hold on, it is alright if you feel ready to go, let go”.

She became quite animated and lucid in this conversation, turning towards me saying “I don’t understand Justine, what are you talking about, go where?”

It was at that point I felt sick and thought, who am I to ruin her happiness or disillusioned self.  Why should I let her lie there knowing she is dying if she does not know.  Why can’t she lie there thinking she will get better yet die peacefully, yet it was not peaceful at the end of the day.  But what right do I have right now to burst her bubble, what does she have, not much, she might lie there having good thoughts, drug induced perhaps, but thoughts about seeing friends, anything, who am I to ruin that with reality.

I backtracked, swept the conversation away, I cried heartily later with guilt for what I had nearly done.

She died, we never spoke about it, not even right at the end, this is how it was.

Thank you for reading what is quite an emotional subject matter as you might imagine.

What would you have done?

Justine x

© Justine @ Eclecticodsnsods.com

  19 comments for “Writing 101, Day Twelve – the truth or not the truth when dying!

  1. June 19, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Oh my, dear Justine…what a raw and emotional truth. Reading through this beautiful post, I can understand why you needed to time to think it through. You did the right thing, in my opinion. I feel as if your mom went in peace, thanks to the love you were able to give. I’m so sorry for your loss. ❤


    • June 20, 2014 at 8:35 AM

      awe thank you what lovely words full of compassion and she passed away 5 years ago, this writing prompt brought back those memories but glad i wrote it xx


  2. June 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I believe you just follow their lead, and I think you did that. You let her know, you would be okay, and that’s all you can do. I’m sorry for your loss.


    • June 20, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      true and thank you for your kind words, appreciated! I think in those instances its gut instincts and hoping you know someone to know what they might want and following their lead as you say xx


      • June 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM



  3. June 19, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    I can see why this was a difficult piece to write, but commend you for your courage and honesty. I think you did everything right in the circumstances. Your instincts based on your experience with your mother were probably more in tune with her than the nurses who perhaps with good intentions were following their book-learning.


    • June 20, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      yes i think that right thing happened as much as they were doing what they thought right and i guess they have that situation alot more than i hopefully ever will but that is balancing their experitise against my knowing her, thank you for your kind words xx


  4. June 19, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    dear Justine what a hard situation to go through, so sorry for you to lose your mother this way, you have been through a lot with the medical profession, patients do hold on and wait until they have said goodbye, or until they feel that they can leave, it often happens that a dying person who knows that a family member is traveling to say goodbye will “hold on” until that person has come, and then they are ready to go – its not book learning from the nurses it’s something seen often with those who are dying – sometimes those who are left behind have to set their loved ones free, Poli


    • June 20, 2014 at 8:39 AM

      thank you poli, yes its balancing their knowledge against mine i suppose and getting a happy medium, we don’t get it right all the time but I think in this instance going with the flow and gut instinct worked. The prompt brought back memories, sometimes its good to get it out and glad i wrote it xx


      • June 20, 2014 at 10:59 AM

        oh always always trust instinct – such a sad but also beautiful memory you shared – and no rarely do we get anything right really I think the best we can do is try our best


  5. June 20, 2014 at 5:02 AM

    What a powerful post Justine. I’m so glad you are sharing. What a shock it had to have been to be told she had six months to live and in reality it was five weeks. That isn’t even enough time to get over the shock of finding out she was sick.

    There is no right or no wrong in this situation. Just “what is.” It is obvious your heart was 100% with your mom.
    Regarding your comments about Writing 101. I don’t think it is your time difference from the U.S. that is making the difference in numbers of readers. I think WAY fewer people are reading the pieces than did in Blogging 101. I think that in part is because the class is WAY bigger, or at least seems to be. It is overwhelming to me to see how many articles are being written and know I can’t read but a fraction of them at best.

    I think I am also reading less because the daily assignments are taking so much more time, at least for me. Today I have finally had some time to catch up on the Reader, but still haven’t read anything from the Commons.


    • June 20, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      you know you brought up some valid points about the numbers that are doing this challenge etc, i have seen that too, however I did speak with krista and she hadn’t actually thought about the time zone aspect and is going to speak to Michelle about it as I find this crops up in most WP challenges because of the time zone thing but in this instance it seems to be worse. But it has opened my eyes to the fact I am not a fast writer with info which is a learning curve, i need to cogitate it hehe.

      Thank you also for your support and kind words about my post, its just something I think you lean on gut instinct for, your mind is such a mess at the time it is surviving with whats gong on and muddling through hoping that you know your mother well enough to do the right thing and roles reverse and you just want to protect them xx


      • June 20, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        Yes, you know your mom better than anyone else. I’m glad you trusted your gut. I hope writing about it and getting support will help you in letting go of your doubt.

        I’m glad also that you talked to Krista. It would be good if they could come up with some kind of solution.


        • June 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM

          re krista yes I will have to wait and see if she says anything and yes my mother and i were very close though we fought like cat and dog hehe….I hope your having a lovely start to your weekend x


  6. June 20, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    Thank you for sharing. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been gone, sometimes it’s still hard to deal with the memories whether good or bad. Keep smiling. You write beautifully.


    • June 20, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      awe thank you that is lovely thing you said, brought a warm smile to my face xx


  7. June 23, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    I wrote nothing new when I say ‘Thank you for sharing this’. 🙂 Still, it is difficult to bring it up again, no matter how much time has passed, and it is difficult to handle the emotions it brings up. And probably always will bring up. In my opinion, you handled it admirably! Your mom was lucky to have you, and I am sure she still is, wherever her spirit might be now. You were also happy to have your mum, and to have the power to make her last days nicer and a little “sorrow free” instead of adding to her illness by letting reality get her down. It is difficult to handle that, especially if you’re the child.

    I was in a similar situation a little over 2 years ago, with my dad. He know what was coming after being diagnosed with a form of cancer that only had one form of ending which was certain death. But still, even when in the end he was unconscious and his body still didn’t want to let go because he maybe felt he couldn’t leave us – saying the words, wishing him peace and telling him to let go and be free of pain… that is so hard. Nevertheless, even though the words stuck in my throat… I am happy I said it. Kudos to your courage and determination to not add the rest of the information. You are very brave.


    • June 24, 2014 at 8:16 AM

      Thank you for writing such amazing and comforting words. it is good to find other people who have suffered similar in an odd way, just makes one not feel to emotionally isolated over the feelings one has or memories.

      It was also good to write about it though I have touched on it before, i think it takes years to fully get over things like this so all therapeutic 🙂 hugs x

      thank you for sharing with me too!


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