On the Passing of My Mother

Eileen Westervelt, May 12, 1926 — May 17, 2007

I don’t think I have ever been so sad, yet so honored, in my life.

The passing of my mother was not an immediate thing, nor was it ugly in any sense in these past two years that she battled cancer and lived more fully than I can imagine ever doing. She passed away as I believe she deserved: a graceful, peaceful journey where she left this world slowly, gradually, and entered a new peaceful world on the other side of all that we know to be true here on Earth. We all had our chance to say goodbye when she was aware of what was happening, and then we had our time with her as she left us slowly, breath by breath, until her final exhale at 12:10 yesterday morning.

My brother and I had a very special hour with her less than three hours before she died. The room was dimly lit, quiet despite the sound of the oxygen generator running in the next room. In this, my final hour with her, there was a greater, almost indefinable spirituality that I experienced, where we spent much of the time in silence, wondering where she was in the journey, what she was experiencing as she left this world and entered a new one.

There was no fighting on her part, nor was there sadness beyond the immediate realization of losing our mother. Instead, there was a certain honor to be with her at this time as she let go.

When my father passed away 17 years ago, I struggled on so many levels with his death. But Mom has shared with us the greatest of gifts in her final days. She has allowed us to be a part of her passing, and it is an experience that we will never forget; it is an experience that will always fill us with a greater love for life, for family, for all that is genuine, for all that is true.

4 thoughts on “On the Passing of My Mother

  1. I realize it’s a strange thing to say, but you are so lucky you got to be with her just prior to her passing…it’s a gift, it really is.

    I’m sorry for your loss, Rus. I’ll be thinking of you…


  2. I am sorry to hear that your mom has left her place on this earth my prayers are with you and with her that she is now at peace. Your words of the “indefinable spirituality” that you felt as you were with her near the end are exactly how I felt when I held my nana’s hand when she took her last breath. It truly was peaceful but yet powerful and life altering. My thoughts are with you.


  3. I have never experienced the beauty of death that you describe, although I believe it is possible for someone who’s had time to prepare and say farewells to loved ones. Reading this passage reminds me of what death must have been like in earlier centuries, when it was a more integral part of society, and people died in real homes instead of nursing homes, surrounded by loved ones instead of alone. What a true blessing for her and your whole family to share such an experience.


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