Sadness on New Year’s Eve

With the death of my mother Clare (Doreen) on 31st December 2015, my “annus horribilis” has drawn to a close. I have never experienced such a concentrated series of sad events. In summary:

June: the dear family dog Khymer had to be euthanised. Clare and I had been walking him on Takapuna Beach for eight years.

July: I learned that one of my closest friends in England had terminal cancer.

September: my husband Brian had a near-fatal heart attack and subsequently underwent major cardiac surgery, again almost dying from post-operative complications (as documented in earlier posts on this blog).

October: just a week after Brian was discharged from hospital, still in a weak state, my mother suffered a huge bowel prolapse. She too almost died, but survived an emergency operation which left her with an ileostomy.

December: my mother had a stroke which deprived her of speech and paralysed the right side of her body. After ten days in hospital she died peacefully with me at her side.

The decline in my own health over this period clearly shows how the repeated experience of stress – the long nights in emergency departments, the practical demands of caring for two sick family members, the continual worry about their welfare – can play havoc with the balance of body and mind.

The good things? My mother was able to live almost independently in her own home nearly till the end, retaining her sharp mental facilities – she still took an active interest in world affairs, enjoyed doing crosswords, and was able to read and comment on the novel that I completed shortly before she died. Acute medical and nursing services in the Auckland hospitals are first-rate. The kindness and helpfulness of family, friends and neighbours has been overwhelming. And my husband has made a splendid recovery.

Surely 2016 will be a happier year, though maybe not an “annus mirabilis”. I hope to recover my well-being enough to enjoy some outings and holidays with Brian, now that he has a new lease of life; to cope successfully with the task of managing my mother’s estate; and then maybe start writing again.

10 thoughts on “Sadness on New Year’s Eve

  1. We are so sorry to hear about Clare. What an awful time these months have been. We do hope that next year will be better. Love, Malcolm and Chantal.

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. Dear Jenny,
    I was deeply saddened to learn this morning of Claire’s death yesterday and to know that she had suffered a stroke on top of her recent surgery. I never really knew your mother but always found her pleasant and interesting to converse with. I think she was very fortunate in being able to remain independent but able to count for so many years on the love and support that both you and Brian gave her. I am so glad for both of you that you were with her when she left this life. There is a symmetry in beginnings and endings and I hope your grief will be tempered by knowing that you had done all you could and that it was timely for her to go. Now you and Brian must look after yourselves and cherish one another.
    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, I hope that this new year will bring health and peace to you both and send my love, Pamela.

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  3. Dear Jennifer, We’re very sorry to hear about your mother. How nice it was to have some time with her after the acute event. I think that in general the medical profession only gives a casual nod to the devastating metabolic (catabolic) effects of surgical or in fact major medical illnesses. There is a very steep and slow climb to get back to normal.

    I trust that Brian has continued to make good progress and that you will now have some good recovery time for yourself.

    All the very best for 2016 to you both! Peter & Alison

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  4. Our condolences to you and Brian on Clare’s death. She was such a switched-on woman, and it was good to learn that she remained in command of her faculties, even to the extent of reading and commenting upon your novel. I look forward to reading it some time.

    Is it some consolation that you were with Clare when she died?

    It is great that Brian has made a splendid recovery and that you have thoughts about outings and holidays together. May they be many, and very enjoyable.

    Sad about the euthanasia of Khymer. Our animal companions are part of our family and are loved as such. That’s just the way it is, and rightfully so.

    May you make a rapid recovery to full health. All these sad and distressing events take a huge toll of our bodies, minds and emotions, and we need to learn how to manage all that overload with minimum distress. I wish you every success with this. Do keep us up to date with how you are progressing.

    With love,

    Joanna and Roger

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    1. Thank you Joanna and Roger for your kind and wise words. Yes, I am thankful to have been present at the time of Clare’s death.

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  5. Bill and I were so sorry to have your sad news of Doreen. We have very fond memories of her on our visit to N Z and times here in the UK she was such a lovely person and will be sorely missed. You are in our thoughts love Maggie Gerard.c

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