Holding On & Letting Go

October 9, 2019

It is a unique blend of holding on and letting go when you are preparing for the death of your parent. You sit there unsure of what to pray for. Do you pray for more days, more time, more moments together? Do you pray for a peaceful and quick passing? Do you pray for a miracle? 

If you’re like me, you end up praying for it all. You beg and plead for God not to take her. Yet, in the same breath, you pray that if she has to go, to make it quick and painless. You pray that she is welcomed into heaven with the same love that she is leaving this world with. You pray she is taken care of. You hold her hand and cry with frustration and fear and pain.

You are conflicted. You are torn. How can you possibly pray for her to go, to pass, to die? But then again, how much longer can you watch her laying there, in pain, slipping further and further away? How do you handle the final moments? How do you handle the pain of what is to come? How do you prepare? 

You enter survival mode. You do the best you can. You breathe and keep moving. You pray she isn’t scared or hurting. Because you are. Nothing could have prepared you for this moment. Nothing.

Somehow you’ve entered the moment where your parent is dying. Not only dying, but dying right in front of you. In that moment, you realize you have been given a burden that exceeds your capacity for strength, for composure, for tomorrow. You will survive this, but you will be a completely different person when it is all over. 

For me, those final days and moments still flood my memory and soul. They haunt my nights and sometimes steal the joy of a memory. 

When it’s all done, you value life differently. You will hurt more. You will ache fiercely. You will crumble quicker and cry often. You will walk around with a hole that will never heal. You will recognize the power of love in a completely different way. You will love more intentionally and consistently than ever before. 

You will have days of debilitating grief and heartbreak. You will have days of joyful and heartfelt reminiscing. Your life becomes an intricate braid of heartbreak, happiness, and healing. Nothing could have prepared you for this loss and the things you have witnessed and endoured. 

In the end you realize the choice was never yours to make. The choice of holding on or letting go were never in your power. You pray that eventually you remember less of the moment they were taken, and more of the moment they entered eternity.

One day, you find comfort in the blessing of being the last hug, the last kiss, the last person to hold their hand and say “I love you.”  

Most importantly, you recognize that you would have held on forever, but the choice wasn’t yours. You only let go because you had to. 

xox, Chels

11 comments so far.

11 responses to “Holding On & Letting Go”

  1. Bernice Malek says:

    This is so TRUE!!! These are my feelings exactly! My mom suffers from dementia. She has good days but this past week has been mostly bad days. I live halfway across state and my sister lives across country. I go back as much as I can but I am dealing with my own health issues also. It’s so hard! She does have one of my brothers who visits daily. I wish I could be there daily. I used to go back and spend a week with her when she lived in her home. It was hard but I love my momma with everything I have!

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Thank you so much for reading my work and taking the time to tell me your story! You are a strong soul and you probably don’t give yourself enough grace and enough credit! I’m thinking of you and sending you thoughts of comfort and strength on your road with your sweet mother. <3, Chels

  2. Roni R says:

    I am so touched by your writing. It is almost as if you are writing my thoughts. I lost my mother 10 months ago. We had a very close relationship always. She began her 2nd bout with recurring Cervical cancer in February 2016. It could not be removed and resisted treatment. Due to my fathers health and hearing I went to every appointment and treatment. I helped my father to care for her and I promised her to be with her until the very end and i became her person. The night that she passed my father was asleep in the other room and it was just her and I. I will forever treasure that moment. As much as I didn’t want to say goodbye it was so hard to watch this beautiful soul suffer day in and out. You think you would be prepared as this was inevitable for almost 3 years but you are never ever fully prepared. Your writings have described my feelings and it is healing to know that I’m not alone in this journey of grief and others feel the same way I do. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Thank you for all of this! I am moved to tears this morning reading your story and your kind words. Thank you for reading my work and taking the time to write such a beautiful comment. I started writing as a way to heal my broken heart. Then I started sharing in the chance others felt the same but couldn’t find the words. Getting messages like this remind me that what I am doing is helping, in some small way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here! I hope you’ll keep coming back. <3, Chels

  3. Kimberly Moore Messina says:

    Thanks for your beautiful words.

  4. Kat says:

    This hits home, I lost my mother a little over a year ago and the feelings are exactly what I felt. I still can’t believe she’s gone at times but I am also happy she’s no longer suffering.

  5. Dianne Martin says:

    Every word of this is so true. I lost my mom February 11,2022 due to Covid. God allowed me to take my mom home and help her enter into his loving arms. Alot of people are unable to have this blessing. I miss my mom so much but I know God was ready for her to come home.
    This said exactly how I felt. Thank you.

  6. Krissy says:

    It was in the moment that my prayers shifted from “Lord, please heal her and give us more time” to “Lord, if you aren’t going to heal her on this side of heaven, please end her suffering”, that I truly learned the real meaning of love. The irony of how devastating yet beautiful that moment was constantly lingers in my mind. Even in the midst of dying, her love was my guide and strength. Thank you for sharing your heart and your grief, as I know firsthand it is not an easy feat.

  7. Annie says:

    I’m 37 and was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago this week. Since that day, what consumes me is leaving my two little girls (2 and4) because just thinking of the sadness they will face crushes my soul. Thinking of them feeling the way you feel for the rest of their lives breaks my heart into a billion pieces. They deserve to have a mom just like all the other girls. They don’t deserve that pain.

  8. Valerie says:

    Thank you for voicing what so many of us feel. The death of a mother is like no other loss, and that moment of “knowing” and trying to hold it back while realizing you can do nothing, make no bargain, pray for everything but that it won’t change the outcome…it is…life-altering and soul-shattering. I am 4 1/2 years beyond her passing but still that forever hole is there, and her birthday last week reawakened the moments of heartbreak that come in those last days. You are right – we are changed forever.

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A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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