What I learned from my mom's passing

Posted By: John Moore · 1/22/2014 11:47:00 AM

My mother's funeral was last Saturday and if a funeral can be a great occasion than I guess it was a great occasion. Mom and Dad attended one of those old fashioned churches with a red carpet, tanned wood and union jacks. The sun streamed through the stained glass windows and the choir showed up to sing even though it was a Saturday. All three children spoke, the grandchildren and partners read and mom's casket was carried by her own family (although a somewhat sad sack collection of fedora-wearing hired guns managed the stairs outside, mercifully unseen by the congregation). Because mom had headed up the squad that served tea and cookies after funerals the same squad turned out to put on the dog for her.

I have heard from hundreds of listeners, many of them recounting their own experiences dealing with a parent's death. Some never got over it. A few confessed they couldn't wait for the day to come. One guy (a police officer) wrote to say he was terrified of losing his mom because he didn't think he was up to it. 

So a few thoughts and then I'll move on (from this space anyway). First of all, you're up to it. You have to be. There were days when I rode the elevator to my mother's room in palliative care with my heart in my throat. It would have been so easy to find some errand to do and leave someone else there. But you really don't have a choice unless you think you can live with the regret. You do it because you have to and because it's the right thing to do and because you hope one day someone will do it for you. 

Lesson two (this one if you know someone who has been bereaved): any gesture from friends, coworkers and even acquaintances is appreciated. No-one is taking attendance at a funeral but it's actually a thrill to see the faces of those who turn up. The whole morning crew plus our boss Mike Bendixen and Kym Geddes showed up from Toronto as a surprise and while I probably got to spend all of five minutes with them I was grateful they were there. A text, an e-mail, flowers from someone you haven't talked to for months or a drive by at visitation are all appreciated. 

Lesson three: I have said this on the air and in my last blog post but I hope you will take it to heart; spend time with your parents. When you think of them, give them a call. On those visits where they try your patience remind yourself they won’t be here forever and that maybe they’re getting more out of the visit this time that you are (although surely parents get tired of their kids as well).

Lesson four: Have the talk. Know what the people in your life want in their final days and let people know what you want. Mom had said a few things that would have been helpful had the cancer taken her. But instead she suffered a stroke and could no longer communicate. Everything tells us we got it right. But it would nice to be sure. 

Thanks again for the support. It`s been great to share mom with you all these years. 

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  • 13
  1. Alice Irene Ryan posted on 01/22/2014 02:49 PM
  2. Anthony Bakker posted on 01/22/2014 04:18 PM
    John, so many of your comments during your Mom's final days echoed the experiences that my siblings and I shared when our Mom passed 6 years ago, right down to a Father's pride in mastering new chores like laundry. It really is true that by spending every possible chance with loved ones while they remain with us makes their absence a little easier to bear. I thank you for sharing, because just as the unexpected short visits from friends have helped you at this time, your comments have also helped me . . . to remember those pleasant moments that can become lost with grief. Regardless of your beliefs, or lack of same, I wish you the comfort of a merciful God, and the Blessings of his love. Take care
  3. Dale posted on 01/22/2014 06:05 PM
    John deeply appreciate you. I know it sounds strange but I consider you a friend, I know I have only met you once but I spend two hours with you most days. Love your writing. Trust you find strength to get you through the days and weeks to come. Obviously your Mom was a special lady.

  4. susan posted on 01/22/2014 08:12 PM
    As a mom of two wonderful boys, I hope they will be there for me when my time comes as well as you have done! You are a good son John! Take comfort in the great memories and cherish the time with your Dad.
  5. Eyal Dattel posted on 01/22/2014 10:09 PM
    John, your words are very heartfelt, moving and meaningful. I am once again truly sorry for your loss.
  6. Doreen Fraccaro posted on 01/22/2014 10:32 PM
    Oh John, how timely this is for me and my family. My mom passed away in palliative care on Monday morning. My family spent a lot of time with her over the weekend and also Monday morning after she had passed. As horrible as it was to see her fade away to nothing, what a blessing that we all got to hear her say "I love you" and to do some business and say proper good-byes. Even Dad was awakened by an angel at 4 o"clock in the morning to witness her last breath. It is hard. We will miss her horribly but I believe she now has a straight back, clear lungs and a strong heart... oh and the beautiful singing voice she always wanted but never had. With you in your loss>
  7. wayne posted on 01/22/2014 10:55 PM
    Some how John, the thoughts and advice you impart seem hopeless and void without faith in God. Your mother seems like such a beautiful and lovely lady and then poof! thats it? Is that the crowning jewel at the end of it all? some nice words from a son in the word business?
    I also wish you the comfort of a merciful God. May he soften your hardened heart that you may turn to Him and discover true meaning and purpose of this life. Wayne
  8. Merlene Samuel posted on 01/23/2014 12:33 AM
    Thank you very much for being 'so real'. You have been part of our morning routine since you movie review days. My mom who passed away over 5 years ago loved listening to you too. Thank you for sharing your family over the years still in a discreet and respectful manner. I have always been able to hear the humor and love in your voice when you spoke of your family. We wish you lingering happy memories of your mom that make you smile and warm your heart. I feel my mom's presence throughout the day and though I miss her I can smile knowing how much we shared. Thank you and good healing my morning friend.
  9. Jeffrey Brooks posted on 01/23/2014 07:55 AM
    Very thoughtful John. I would elaborate on "You do it because you have to and because it's the right thing to do and because you hope one day someone will do it for you." I would suggest you were there for your mom because that is where you wanted to be. Pure and simple, you had to be there. I 'work' as a palliative care volunteer at a major hospital in MTL and I am thrilled at having the opportunity to spend precious time with patients who have little time left. It is truly wonderful and I am so grateful the hospital provides training, appropriate support so that ordinary retired and younger persons like myself can do this with confidence, competence and sensitivity. It is truly a gift to spend time with these wonderful people who happen to be patients at the end of their lives. Bravo John. You did good!
  10. Laura posted on 01/23/2014 10:56 AM
    Hey John,
    Lesson three, best advice you can offer. I lost both my parents at different times extremely suddenly. Lost my mom when I was speaking with her on the phone from Mississauga (she in Niagara-on-the-lake) as I did once a night, she always called to say goodnight. This time, she said, "honey, sorry, I am not feeling well", slurred a little and dropped dead from a massive heart attack while on the phone. Her husband was sleeping and did not know. Long story short. Today, I have no regrets, I spoke to her often, listened at times to advice I did not feel necessary and made time to see her. I will always miss her but my heart is content because I knew her. Time well spent. All the best to you John and to your family. Enjoy your memories.
  11. Kelly Leonard posted on 01/23/2014 08:18 PM
    John, I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I have always said you only have one mom so treasure her always. I never thought my mom would pass away and I found out she can, just like all the other mothers on earth. She died on December 17th 2013 and she would have turned 86 on December 26. I know the pain and heart ache you are going through as I am living through it myself now. I am hanging on to each and every memory of my mom as I am sure you are to. Knowing that these memory's, friends and family are here for you and I will help us with our loss much easier Thinking of you and your family at this time.
  12. Deborah posted on 01/24/2014 10:38 AM
    John, I lost my dad in 1999 at age 52 and not a day goes by I don't think of him. I heard through the radio your love and dedication for your parents and love listening to those stories you told after a weekend visit with them.

    Your mother would be so proud of the article you wrote.. it is beautiful.
  13. Trevor Silverson posted on 01/26/2014 05:25 PM
    Hi John,

    I listened to your broadcasts leading up to and after your mom's passing. I think she would have been very proud of the way you handled yourself. You didn't ignore the realities of what was happening in your personal life. You acknowledged it, talked about it and shared in your experiences but you didn't dwell on it or ask for pity. I'm sure there were many private moments in which you displayed your sorrow but I was impressed by how you handled it on the air.

    All the best to you and your family.

    Trevor Silverson
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