I had a terrific conversation the other day, with a woman in a similar position to mine. Her parent's illness is different from my mother's, but the end result is pretty much the same: the long goodbye.
The thing I took away from that conversation though was this: in the course of this illness, I will lose Barbara (my mother) certainly, but it is actually I who will be found at the end. This is not an outcome I had anticipated or even considered.
My friend said to me basically that the pain we feel in this process is that of ego burn. I'm not sure that I'll do justice to the incredibly intelligent understanding she has of this process, but I'll try. Her contention was that first, we need to recognise that the process isn't not about the well, but about the ill. Obvious, yes, but not nearly as easy to grasp emotionally as perhaps we might hope.
Second, she suggested that the long goodbye is actually a journey to the center of self. If we choose, and it is indeed a choice to take the journey, we will find that the person we are at the end is very different from (and perhaps an improvement over) the person who started the journey. The pain, the whining, the wailing, the resistance, she suggested to me, were all in response to the burning off of the ego. If I understood her correctly, her take was that the ego, which wants all things bright and beautiful, pretty and flowery, resists its destruction. But ego is a stumbling block on the journey to self. Ego interferes with the process and must therefore be burnt away. Hm.
In light of that, I've changed the name of the blog to Losing Mummy, Finding Me because that may more accurately reflect where this is all heading.