Mom’s Legacy:  Pain Free at Last – without Medication!

This is a story about surrender and how our deepest truth is revealed in the unspoken language of our bodies….

It is never too late to experience deep, restorative healing and the freedom it unlocks to live and die with peace and authenticity.

Mom died five years ago.  She was 85 and had experienced severe back pain for most of her adult life.

I can still see her face in my mind’s eye – terse, tight and constricted as if she was holding painful emotional or physical energy in her body – her eyes were strained, and her smile was forced. 

As a child and a teen-ager, I remember the care she took in creating and serving the ultimate in gourmet meals, the speed with which she completed complex and challenging tasks, and the energy that seemed to drive her to always move so quickly even when there was no reason to rush.  

Looking back, I believe that this was the energy of self- pressure born through Mom’s perfectionistic tendencies and the need to please others; often at the expense of taking care of herself.  This pattern of behavior combined with everyday life stressors frequently results in chronic painful symptoms caused by ongoing unconscious muscle tension.

Mom was a pianist. When she played, her body relaxed into an expressive flow of movement.  The sound of her old Steinway filled the room with emotion.  The vibrations of sadness, grief, anger and despair soared through her fingers. This was Mom’s truth speaking through Chopin, Beethoven and the music of ragtime.

Her piano was her passion until a few months before her death when she was hospitalized after falling on the concrete garage floor of her home. Amazingly there were no serious injuries other than some nasty bruising.  She entered a rehab center to receive therapy and rest.

Rehab consisted of physical and occupational therapy.  Mom did well, but every night she screamed in agony about the pain in her back.  The staff and doctor did all they could to keep her comfortable and safely medicated, but the pain persisted. After a month of sleepless nights, she returned home with 24-hour care.

Physical therapists came to her home three times a week to continue rehab, and Mom remained agitated and hurting night after night.  I understood that this agitation might be indicative of the progression of her Alzheimer’s disease, but Mom wasn’t getting any rest and neither was anyone else.

She chose to remain in bed, and never returned to her pianoThe days passed with no relief – and then – I finally listened to what Mom had really been saying all along –

“I’m finished. I’ve had enough.  No, no, NO!”

She had fought enough. She just wanted to rest.

I spoke to the doctor about hospice care in the home.  When the hospice nurse arrived, I introduced her to Mom:  “Mom, this is Susan with hospice.”  Mom’s face softened and relaxed after weeks of tightness and tension as she smiled and reached for Susan’s hand. 

That night Mom slept through the night without pain and without medication for the first time in months.

Honoring Mom’s journey and her wishes was a challenge for us.  Our culture instructs us to “battle” illness and prolong life whenever possible.   Yet, when we practiced compassion, love and acceptance; Mom’s pain went away and never returned.

Mom remained relaxed and comfortable without medication, and three weeks later she died peacefully during the night. 

With compassion, love and acceptance,