Category: Grief

Transition to Cancer Survivor

This morning I read an excellent post on the transition from patient to survivor (http://quivervoice.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/picking-up-the-pieces). How do we go about our lives during/after a bout with cancer?

Nancy's post prompted me to review what I wrote in Fine Black Lines and I'd like to share that with you. Be sure to read Nancy first!

"Several years later, thinking that I had always handled my cancer well, I reread my diaries, absolutely shocked by how much my present perception of what I had experienced differed from what I had written at the time.

"And I realized how similar I was to the women who join our support group hoping to learn how to deal with their newly diagnosed cancer. How arrogant of me to think they should be where I am now. How essential it is that each woman ultimately find her own way. How important it is that I tell my story as it really happened, not as time has softened it in my memory.

"And yet, as some come with their terror, I see myself and others shrinking from recalling our early horror, trying to convince ourselves we were different from them.

"And when others come with a strong sense of denial and a most determined bravery, I feel great sadness–seeing the cloak of innocence they wrap so carefully around them, unaware how much it has already frayed."

(Excerpted from FIne Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness, Copyright 2003, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad. See http://ow.ly/gumLP)

 

 

 

FREE Kindle Ebook for Mother’s Day May 7 & 8

May 7 and 8 are upon us!

Download your FREE Kindle copy of The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret at http://www.ow.ly/vfH8E. This version was beautifully formatted by Gary Hall of http://www.greystrokecreative.com. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download to your computer without charge.

It is interesting to me to see that some of what I wrote in this book as a daughter is now being played out in my own life. How could I have known when I wrote The Last Violet that I was writing a guidebook for myself? 

Vignette

Helplessly I watch

as they make their mad dash

to the bathroom

her pale, thin arm clutching his

their weary feet shuffling

over the light Berber carpet

their bodies stopped with

the weight of many years

They've been together since

they were very young

sometimes they've been happy

sometimes not

but here they walk side by side

as cancer interrupts

whatever they were doing

as cancer eats her body

and tears his heart

"In sickness and in health," they vowed

"until death do us part," they vowed

Helplessly I watch

and then

I go into the kitchen and weep…

(Excerpted from The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother)

Thinking of Your Mom?

As you and I wait for the FREE Kindle book download for The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret, on May 7 and 8, I'd like to share two other excerpts from that book:

http://www.loishjelmstad.com/can-you-visit-your-childhood-home

http://www.loishjelmstad.com/you-can-run-but-can-you-hide

I wrote the first part of The Last Violet while my mother lay dying in home-hospice. It was a very confusing, frustrating, haunting time. After Mother died on Mother's Day 1995, I continued to explore our relationship and my grief in an effort to better understand her – and myself. 

I would like for The Last Violet to become a way for you to explore your relationship with your mother – living or dead.   

All my love, Lois

I’m So Excited About My Gift to You

‎Now it's only five days until all my dear readers and their friends and their friends can download The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret. Go to http://www.ow.ly/vfH8E on May 7 and 8 and you'll get your FREE Kindle eBook. 

It took a long time, a lot of editing, many emails, a fair amount of money, and a lot of energy to get The Last Violet into eBook form. It will all be worth it if even one more person finds the comfort, validation, courage, and joy I wish for the readers of this second book of mine. Readers have told me that if your mother has died The Last Violet will help you chart your way. They also say that if you are lucky enough that she is still alive, the book can motivate and help you to better your relationship.

I want to share what I wrote about Mother's Day last year. See http://www.loishjelmstad.com/mothers-day-sadness 

Meantime, happy spring!

Mother’s Day Sadness

For the past eighteen years, I have felt especially sad on Mother's Day. 

Don't get me wrong – my husband and family were wonderful, provided beautiful flowers, poignant cards, a book of exquisite poems by Ted Kooser, a precious little stuffed animal, and took me out to dinner. I loved it.

All of the love and fun, however, did not assuage the sadness I felt on Sunday. My beloved mother died eighteen years ago today and in 1995, May 14 was Mother's Day. 

I am thinking of the day of her death and want to share an excerpt from The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret:

 

May 14—I am grateful I have the presence of mind to get up early and pack everything I’ll need for the Big Spring Piano Recital and Graduation Recital this afternoon. I am thankful that I decide at the last minute to go help Jan [my sister]bathe Mother before Les and I go to the church.

 

We set everything up; the first program goes beautifully. During the reception between the two concerts, Renée [my sister-in-law]comes to tell us that Mother’s condition is deteriorating rapidly. Her respirations are only three per minute. Although I have to desert the five precious girls who are giving their last recital, my only thought is to get to Mom in time.

 

Joy [our hospice nurse] had told us Friday that we were to keep her comfortable, giving her morphine as often as we noticed retraction. It would, as promised, relieve her sensation of suffocation and the struggling respiration. It is very efficient to give it in tiny amounts at short intervals. Karen [my daughter] prepares the medication; Nick [my physician brother] watches for retraction; I administer the doses. The rest of the family keeps vigil.

 

It is hard to continue giving morphine, knowing that it might hasten her death, but we have pledged that she will not suffer. Sometimes her teeth are clenched shut and I agonize that I am forcing her.

 

From 4:00 in the afternoon until 11:58, my eyes never leave her face and I am taking her pulse as it gradually fades, then stops. Her eyes are open, but she isn’t looking at us— her gaze focuses beyond us, and it is clear that she sees that which we cannot.

 

And so, on this Mother’s Day, my beloved mother dies. I gently close her mouth and hold her chin in place until it stays. I tuck the covers around her. She looks more peaceful than she has for eleven weeks—maybe more peaceful than she ever has.

 

We wait in silent good-bye, hearts breaking, until 2:35 a.m. when two men from the crematory come to take her body. They wrap her in a white sheet, twist the ends shut, and carry her out.

 

Dear God, I have no mother.