Share My World: Sweet Sacred Experience

Kathy Jarvie and Jodi Jarvie
January 26, 2019

While Jodi is the one holding my mom's hand here, to me it represents me and all the people who came and held my mom's hand and helped and loved her through this transition we call death.

It has been a week since my mom's death and it is now time for me to write about that sweet sacred experience. You may have a very different experience or view of death. Even my siblings that were with my mom have very different experiences and thoughts on death and dying. As part of my grieving process and to expand the conversation about death and dying I want to blog about my thoughts and experiences.

Kathy Jarvie, Sara Jarvie and Jodi Jarvie
Picture by Scott Jarvie

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be present for a birth. I have not been able to be at a birth or had any children of my own. That is still something I would very much like to experience.

I want to experience the process and transition of coming into the world and the spirit that is present as the veil between heaven and earth is so thin.

I had not given much thought about being present for a death until my sister-in-law Jodi asked if she could be present for my dad's death a couple of years ago.

She had been with her grandmother and talked about how it was a very special and spiritual experience as someone transitions from this life to the next. I have now been able to be with both of my parents during this transition we call death.

The first and foremost thought when I think of my mom's death it is that there was incredible love present.

Those that came to the house to tell her they love her, those that sang and played for her to her (oh the music!), those that messaged via social media to tell her they love her, those that used technology to video chat with her or phone her to tell her they love her.

As Natalie Rasmussen pointed out to me after a visit with my mom. She said, "Your mom can hardly talk and the words she saves her breath and energy for are, "Thank you." "I love you." and "I love you so so much." It is true she told us she loved us so often and when she couldn't talk anymore she squeezed our hands and fingers to let us know she loved us. And I felt so much love for her.

The physical touch was so special. Holding her hands is one of the most special part of the time I had with her. She was on hospice and had a hospital bed in the living room. When it got close to the end we moved the tables away and put chairs next to her bed so those that wanted could sit right beside her and hold her hand.

Scotty, Kathy and Jodi Jarvie and Jake the cat

I will miss her touch.

I will also miss touching her.

She was so tired and sore from laying in bed all day.

When the day was over and the visitors had gone home I would get her lotion and give her whole body a massage. Oh how she loved this. She would say that feels good and moan in delight as I relieved some of the tension. It was a really beautiful time for me as I was able to do something for her she could not do for herself. She nurtured and cared for me in my childhood and many times rubbed my back when I was sick. What a beautiful thing to be able to give this kind of loving care to her.

I flew into Oregon on Sunday, January 20th and stayed with my brother, Jay and sister-in-law, Jodi in Medford. The next morning, Monday January 21st, Jay and Jodi drove me across the mountain to Klamath Falls. My mom had been on hospice care of 6 months and I had been to Oregon to take care of her in November and December and the first part of January. Right before I left for this trip, I felt the most anxiety of being too far away. She fell and couldn't get up without my sister, Kristen's help. That is when I decided to book a flight for the next day so I could be with and take care of her. Little did I know that it would only be for a week. That is something I learned.... if you feel like you should go home, do it. Both my mom and dad died a week after I arrived to take care of them. They also both waited for my little brother to drive from Utah.

When I arrived my mom was doing pretty well. She was bed bound and still in good spirits.

My sister came over with her two children and we played Apples to Apples, a game she could play from bed. She loves games! Our tradition after the winner is declared is to say that we are according to what cards we won.

We all laughed when we realized that my mom's cards said she was extreme, lazy and stunning!

I am so grateful for those days when she was aware and able to talk.

In this picture you can see her drink. She loved her sodas, Tiki Punch, Pineapple and Orange sodas. By this time she was no longer eating and was only drinking her sodas.

Kathy Jarvie, January 24, 2019

I research and watched very carefully for the signs of death and recognized her appetite as the first thing to really change. She didn't eat any food while I was there.

It was hardest when she couldn't hold her drink or pull the liquid up through the straw. Toward the very end we would put her soda in a big syringe and give it to her that way.

While this was a very special time and experience that doesn't mean that it wasn't hard or that I'm not crying as I remember this part of the journey and how weak she became.

From Crossing the Creek A practical Guide to Understanding the Dying Process, I learned that;

"In the overwhelming majority of cases, people do not die because they stop eating; they stop eating because they are dying. The only reason for an actively dying person to eat or drink anything is for pleasure. If it is not pleasurable, then there is no point in eating or drinking. In fact, it is likely to do more harm than good.

Something my sister and I have talked about is how as people die they return to a infant like state. They need a lot of sleep, help with toiletry and eating and drinking.

In speaking of sleep in his book Crossing the Creek, Michael Holmes states;

"Interestingly, the normal sleeping pattern during the dying process is virtually identical to the normal sleep pattern of newborns; off and on around the clock. There is no night and day for the newborns or dying people; just dozing off and on day and night."

Kathy and Kristen, January 29, 2019 4:30am (the day she died)

This was a special morning for Kristen and I as we read scriptures and sang songs to my mom for hours.

In a Facebook group my brother made with the Quinney family Kristen asked if anyone had requests. Beth Quinney requested a Child's Prayer. We recorded our heartfelt rendition we sang to our mom and sent it to Beth. She responded that she listened to us with tears running down her cheeks. It was amazing how we were able to share so much of the experience with those so far away.

In addition to singing songs we also read to her from the scriptures, including Mark 1 and Alma 32.... which is her favorite.

Something that I remember learning when my dad died is that hearing is the last part of the body to shut down. I talked to my mom a lot. I would stand like the picture to the right, so she could see me and I could look into her beautiful blue eyes. The closer to death the more her eyes took on an innocence and I felt like I was seeing my mom at her core. I told her how much I love her. I told her it was ok to go...she really wanted to go. I told her we (my brother, sister and I) would be ok. I brushed her brow and jaw. I kissed her forehead. I felt such a great need for her to feel loved.

Also after reading Crossing the Creek and learning that, "The dying process is a lot of work." I would tell her that it is hard and a lot of work and she was doing great. I felt the truth of this statement as I remembered how hard and how much work it was for my dad to die. I now understand what he went through better.

"Sleep and dreaming are very important parts of the dying process. Virtually everyone who goes through the dying process reminisces about the important events and people in their lives." Michael Holmes

My mom told me how she is thinking about her parents much more lately. She told me how they feel close to her.

We talked about how great it will be to see her parents, her grandparents, her husband and my dad, her best friend Marcia, her sister-in-law Karen and her granddaughter Kate,

It is great to think now that she has been reunited with them.

Especially my dad.

Knowing when and how to medicate a loved one can be a daunting and difficult task.

One of the hardest parts of my dad's death was differing views of family members on giving my dad pain relief. The children believed that he didn't want the medication (morphine) in fact he pushed it way and go very upset and wary of me because I gave him the morphine. It was my mom's wish to give it to him. She couldn't bear to see him in so much pain. We believe that most of his pain came from his hernia and or constipation even though he died of kidney cancer.

The interesting thing is that a little over two years later. My mom took the morphine for the first few days then stopped. She didn't want it and didn't complain about her tail bone that had been hurting her. It was like she was dying the way my dad wanted to and that he didn't get to because she couldn't bear to see him in pain.

Kathy Jarvie and Jake

Watching my mom's cat Jake was a treat. He sensed her illness and would rarely leave her side. One of the hardest nights for me was the night before she died. Jake wanted to be near her and that was causing her lots of stress so it was decided that he should be taken to my mom' friend, Ruth's house.

Jake cried on the car ride. Whether from being scared of going in the car or missing my mom and being taken from her when he thought she needed him most. I also cried as he cried as we drove to Ruth's.

Jake doesn't make any sounds. He taps my mom's arm to get her to feed him or patiently waits till someone is in the kitchen then runs over in hopes he would be fed. When he is let out he waits patiently at the door to be let back in. I don't think I ever heard him meow and so the crying on the way to Ruth's matched my own sadness of soon to be without my mom too.

Here are Ruth and Charleen. My mom's friends that were so good to her. They came over often and love my mom so much.

In 1992 Russell M Nelson gave a talk called the Doors of Death He said,

"Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. Moreover, we can't fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life."

He goes on to teach us that:

"Life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death. Prior to our birth, we dwelled as spirit children with our Father in Heaven. Returning from earth to life in our heavenly home requires passage through- and not around- the doors of death. We were born to die, and we die to live.

So if you have read this far you won't say or feel sorry for me or my family. We had a wonderful mother and friend and we were able to be with her and serve and love her to the very end of this life and be by her side when she left this life and crossed the veil into the next.

Sara, Kristen, Kathy and Scott Jarvie, Jan, 29, 2019
Photo by Scott Jarvie

Many times throughout the week my brother Scott quoted Neal A. Maxwell,

"Our tears are just as wet, but not because of despair. Rather they are tears of heightened appreciation evoked by poignant separation. Those tears of separation change, ere long, becoming tears of glorious anticipation."

I will miss my mom dearly and I am looking forward to seeing her, my dad and other loved ones again.

Crossing the Creek by Michael Holmes
Doors of Death by Russell M. Nelson
Children Song book
New Testament
Book of Mormon
Hope through the Atonement of Christ by Neal A. Maxwell

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