The Day I Stopped Praying for Her to Live

February 2, 2021

A day that I never thought I’d encounter is the day I stopped praying for my mother to live. 

The moment I knew her time was limited and instead of praying fiercely for her to hold on, I started praying instead for her to let go. It suddenly felt selfish to sit and beg and pray for her to remain with us when the only pieces of her that truly remained were disease-filled and painful. 

I never knew true courage or selflessness until the first prayer that I silently screamed in desperation for her to be set free. It was the day I stopped praying for her to live. 

“Mom, you can go if you have to.”

I remember posting a picture of our interlocked hands, numb and broken, asking my closest friends for guidance. I wanted to know when it’s the right time and ‘ok’ to let go. I wanted someone to tell me what the best things to do and feel were. I wanted to know if it was too late for a miracle. I wanted answers and instead it became the day I stopped praying for her to live. 

“Take her if you must, but erase her pain and ease her mind, remind her she will be forever loved, always.”

When she could no longer speak or move or open her eyes my world changed just as dramatically as the composition of my heart. When she laid there, immobile, peaceful and immensely loved, yet forever changed, that’s the day I stopped praying for her to live.

“If she’s ready, she’s yours. I’m not ready, but I’ll never be. When you carry her away, carry her with love, our love, our endless and limitless love.” 

I shocked myself as I challenged every selfish wish and hope that filled my soul. I cried and screamed and begged God, and all and any divine intervention, to take her and make her whole again, even if that meant somewhere different, somewhere out of my reach. It was the heartbreaking moment I stopped praying for her to live, and instead prayed for her heavenly redemption. 

“You can go, and wherever it leads I will love you, to the moon and back, forever.”

Even as the words slipped out of my mouth in tear-clouded whispers I couldn’t believe them. I hated myself for saying them. I was overwhelmed with guilt, yet encouraged by the faith that radiated from my mother’s thin, yet still beautiful face. 

She deserved freedom. She deserved peace and serenity. She deserved everlasting life, which meant it was time to stop praying for her to live here on this Earth with us. A prayer that still remains the most critical and self-sacrificing that I’ve ever whispered or crafted in my heart. The harshest and most powerful prayer to ever exit my lips. 

Everything changed the day I stopped praying for her to live. 

Every. Single. Thing. 

The day I stopped praying for her to live I broke into a million tiny pieces while she flew away free, which is what makes it all worthwhile. I’ll hurt forever if it means she’s no longer in pain and no longer tied to the things that depleted her. That harsh prayer was my last gift to her. My last opportunity to love her, just as delicately and pure as she loved me. 

The greatest act of love I’ve ever accomplished was the day I stopped praying for her to live. 

xox, Chels

21 comments so far.

21 responses to “The Day I Stopped Praying for Her to Live”

  1. Lynette says:

    I swore I would never tell her it was okay to go. Then I saw her struggling and had to say those horrible words.
    Then I did…” It’s okay mom, you go when your ready”. I thought I would choke.
    The next morning she decided to take her leave.
    My life will never be the same, and it’s a little darker without her in it but she’s not in pain anymore. She also knows the true scope of my love for her, for that I am grateful. Thank you for this… It truly helped today.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      I felt so much of what you expressed. It was such a hard and complicated experience, praying to stay and go at the same time. You are not alone, friend! I pray you continue to find hope and comfort on my page. Thank you so much for reading my work. xox, Chels

  2. Carmen says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I thought I was one of the few people in this world that had this experience. Letting my mom go was the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t know it then but it was also the most selfless act of love I could give her. My world has never been the same since she left but I’m grateful to have had her at all ❤️🙏🏼

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Thank you for reading! You are certainly not alone. So many of us have shared this same heartbreak and complicated journey that comes along with it. I pray you continue to find hope, comfort and encouragement on my page! Honored you’re here. xox, Chels

  3. Angie says:

    We just lost Mom 12/15/20 to liver cancer. It truly was the hardest prayer I’ve ever said in my life. But thru the sobbing and the tears, I knew I wanted her whole again. I loved her soooo much! She was my best friend, mentor, supporter, best mom and grandma God could have given me! I miss her sooo badly! 😭

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Angie, I am so sorry for this immense heartbreak you are experiencing. I understand the ache of losing a mother. Please know you are not alone. There are many of us that started this journey before you and are here to help you in any way we can. Your grief is so fresh. Be sure to be patient with yourself and sprinkle grace over everything you do. You need time. Your heart needs time, and sadly the only thing that brings new perspective and healing hearts is the crucial lapse of time. <3 I pray you find comfort and hope on my page. xox, Chels

  4. Kathleen says:

    I remember reaching this point so vividly. Cancer took her so fast- only 6 weeks, the last of which was hospice. I remember the guilt of having begged her to fight once she got her diagnosis. Then the guilt of am I a horrible person asking God to take her home because I can’t handle seeing her like this anymore. I felt like the worst person in the world begging God to let this be the day because she no longer spoke, she wasn’t conscious, she would get restless when I spoke to her to the point I had to stop towards the end because she’d keep holding on to try and stay with me. I didn’t think anyone would ever understand what it felt like to pray for God to take her home and make her whole again.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Kathleen, I feel each and every word you’ve typed. You are not alone. I pray my page continues to provide hope, comfort and encouragement. xox, Chels

  5. Mary says:

    Thank you for this page it helps to know I’m not alone!

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Mary, I’m so glad this page is providing community for you. You are definitely not alone. We are in this together. xox, Chels

  6. Rosa says:

    I do well know the heartbreak of saying those words. The day (July 14, 2019) my mom slipped away to her heavenly home after fighting Alzheimer’s for years I thought I was ready. WRONG!!!! It’s an emptiness I could never have imagined. You have a way of saying what I feel but can’t express. Thank you.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Rosa, what a beautiful name. I love it. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate knowing my heart’s work is helping others feel less alone. We are in this together. xox, Chels

  7. Lynda Weiss says:

    Wow! This is exactly what I went through. My final prayer was at church with my pastor the day she passed. I had 7 more hours with her and was there to the end….still holding hands. I also took a picture of our hands interlocked.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Lynda, thank you for reading my work. I’m so honored it resonated with you, though I hate we share this heartbreak! I pray you continue to find light, encouragement and hope on my page! xox, Chels

  8. Rachel Miller says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Not only does it resonate. Completely. I remember praying this prayer. And she was gone the next day. They deserved to not be hurting anymore. And as much as we miss them, at least they are no longer in pain.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Rachel, you are so very welcome. Thank you for reading my heart’s work. I pray you continue to find hope, light and encouragement on my page. You are not alone. xox, Chels

  9. Debra says:

    I feel you’re pain. I did this in 12/18 for my Mom,1/19 to my husband on hospice and 12/20 for my Dad. It’s the hardest to do but the comfort knowing they are no longer sick and rejoicing with family members who have gone before them gives me comfort every day. My prayers are with you

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Debra, Thank you so much for reading my work and taking the time to comment. Sending love and prayers from afar! I hope you continue to find hope and inspiration on my page. xox, Chels

  10. Shenise K. says:

    The long good-bye makes us think we are ready…we are never truly ready. The moment she left my heart shattered, but it was selfish for me to wish for her to stay in the shell of herself.

  11. Fatema says:

    I read this and felt every single moment you described. I to was there going through the same motions, it was so painful, surreal and I honestly thought my father would just wake up. 6 days of watching him slip away, I knew he was going somewhere or maybe just that his life was shutting down, he lived his time and now its over, a bit like the way a computer stops working, I know its sounds un humanlike, but I have no idea what happens to us when we pass. I saw him take his last breath, I saw him lay there still, lifeless and I thought I was going to die. I did die, He wiped away a part of life that no longer exists here, he took it with him. I cherised sitting with him after he died, I had 9 hours, I talked to him, I brushed his hair, I massaged his aching body one last time iwth his favourite rosemary oil, I trimmed his nails and I layed my hea don his chest telling him “I am your girl, always been daddys girl and still am till the day I am with him again I will never be the same”.

  12. Michelle says:

    I felt every word of this prayer and it broke my heart. A heart that has never truly healed from the death of my grandmother. A hand that looked something like your mom’s hand in this photo above. I was too young, barely 30, but very immature. It happened so suddenly that she was hooked to a machine and we were finally told she was no longer with us – but that the machine was doing all of the work. We had to decide and quick. My aunt was you and I was the version of you who could not let go. As soon as they pulled the machine off I saw her take her last breath and a large part of me went with her. I was unable to look at her photo for over a year. Then one day I did. Thanks for this poem. I’m not sure I could ever do what you did, but it was the right thing. That much I know. Sending you love from NYC.

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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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