Recently, I heard a woman expressing her heartbreak around her mother’s passing. It was difficult enough to lose her mother, but a lot of pain was coming from the fact that she was not present when her mother passed. She had stepped away to get something to eat and her mom passed while she was out of the room. This is a huge source of grief for people and I want to lend another perspective so it might lighten your heart if you ever have to go through this.
Several years back, a friend of mine was married to the love of her life. They were married for over two decades and finished each other’s sentences. For a while, he worked in a mine – and his time there would be the source of a lethal illness that developed not long after.
When he was diagnosed with cancer, she was there for him. Night by night, she stayed by his side, never leaving – but it began to take a toll on her. She told the on-duty nurse that she would take the bed they had offered in the other wing but didn’t leave until they assured her that they would call her if there was any change in his condition. She laid her head down on the pillow and fell into a deep sleep. Around 4 a.m., she awoke with a bad feeling and hurried back to her husband’s ward only to find that he had passed while she was sleeping. I cannot tell you all the pain she went through from not being there with him.
The thing about this heart-wrenching circumstance is that it happens often – the part where the loved one passes when they are alone. Sometimes, people just cannot pass if their loved ones ARE present. They may not be able to handle the grief their family/friends feel, the tension of letting go, or their own struggle with having to say goodbye – from this world, from the people they love dearly.
It’s hard enough to see a loved one pass but to endure even more pain because you feel that you did something wrong (abandoned them) is further damage to an already-hurting heart. It’s easy to think – bad time to leave – should have slept in the chair again that night – should have booked an earlier flight out… but please stop to consider that the person passing may need to pass alone, it’s not personal and no one did anything wrong – they just need to go that way.
I hope that, if you or someone you care about, ever has this experience, you will find comfort in a different way of looking at these things.