Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Monday night my mother-in-law slipped into a coma-like state--they can't call it a coma because they haven't measured brain activity--there was nothing else to do for her. We did not administer meds. We did not feed her. She wasn't drinking. It seemed as if she was in a deep, deep sleep.

A minister friend told me, when this all first began a month ago, that there was nothing I could do to make this journey comfortable for mom. She will move through it at her own pace and in her own way. What I could do was witness this sacred journey and shine my light for her.

By Wednesday morning it was clear the end was near. Both her daughter and youngest son left for home Wednesday morning. After a week of family, hubby and I were once again alone with mom.
I had a very strong feeling she'd been waiting for them to leave before she could go. Tuesday night, four of her five children were here, laughing, eating dinner, and telling "mom" stories. I'm sure she could hear us.
At 1 pm, I told the aide to go home--there was nothing left for her to do. I wanted to be alone with mom.
I sang her favorite song, "Amazing Grace" a few times, and Silent Night, which she adores. I held her hand and told her it was ok for her to go now. All her kids had been here and said what they needed to say. My hubby couldn't handle being in the room with her. It was hard. Her breathing had become very shallow and raspy. I sat, knowing her time was near.

At about 3:45 PM, her breathing changed. It became gentler. She took a deep sigh, then nothing for a few seconds. This lasted about 5 minutes. At that point the phone rang. Hubby was upstairs--he came down, saying it was the hospice chaplain. I told him mom was leaving us. He came to her bedside and the two of us laid our hands on her as she breathed her last breath. There was no death rattle, as we'd been told to expect. She simply sighed her last breath. It was incredibly peaceful and beautiful.

The chaplain appeared on our doorstep within 15 minutes and facilitated our dealing with the funeral home. By 6:30 pm, mom left here to begin her journey home to Plainview, Texas, where she was born and lived until 2 years ago, when she came here to Albuquerque. The family will gather there a week from Saturday for her funeral. It will be a celebration of a life well-lived and a woman well-loved.

Thank you all for the love and support that came through this blog in your comments. I will never forget it.



Cyndi said...

Karen, I'm so sorry for your loss.

What an amazing and honest glimpse into this part of the journey that we will all face and are so terrified of. The way you describe it doesn't sound terrifying at all.

It's interesting that you believe she was waiting for her other kids to leave and that you and hubby were alone with her when she passed. When my father was on hospice they told us that whoever was supposed to be with him when he passed would be with him. And that's exactly how it happened.

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Karen, my sincerest condolences for your loss. You have done such a marvelous job of caring for her, and going through this experience the best you possibly could.

This has been comforting to me to read, and Cyndi's comment as well; because when my mom died I wasn't there. I'd been staying with dad for several days and (we live very close – walking distance) I left for only a few moments. I no sooner got home and dad called. I lived with guilt and regret for so long until a therapist (and several people since) told me that it's actually documented that many times, especially with mothers for some reason – they wait until the children are gone before leaving us. So Cyndi's comment about whomever is meant to be there at the time will be, helps too.

Experiencing this journey with you through your blog, I commend your honesty and the obvious care you gave your mother-in-law. You seemed to have handled everything so very well. My thoughts and blessings are with you and your husband. Her last days were filled with so much love and caring. God Bless.

Mason Canyon said...

Karen, I am so sorry for your loss. I know these past days and weeks have been difficult for you, but I think you helped make her journey home as peaceful as possible.

The following days will be extremely rough for you and your husband as the silent settles in. Remember the good things and hold on to each other.

You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

My heart and prayers go out to you! Sending you lots of spiritual hugs for peace and comfort.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

It sounds like a peaceful ending to a good lady's life. I love that the funeral will be in her hometown and will be a celebration! You'll be in my thoughts and prayers...


Joanne said...

Thank you for sharing this journey with us, Karen. I was very moved by each stage of it, and by your reaching out to your mother-in-law in such a loving way. My sincerest condolences.

Helen Ginger said...

My heart cries for you and your husband. What a wonderful blessing she gave you, though. You were with her and you know that she died in peace surrounded by love.

I can't even imagine how difficult this has been for you. That you shared it with us shows your strength.


Patricia Stoltey said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband. You were fortunate to have a Hospice group to work with you -- they're wonderful.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

It sounds very peaceful and love-filled. Could anyone ask for more? Your personal strength astounds me, Karen.

in His hands said...

Our prayers are with you and all your family!

Phyllis Dayton Wall

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Saw your email through BBT Cafe.
While it was incredibly difficult and painful for you, what you just described sounds like such a peaceful moment for your mother-in-law. You took wonderful care of her when she needed it the most.

Sally said...

I'm so sorry..
she was blessed to have you

DebraLSchubert said...

Dignity in death and being surrounded by those you love is the most any of us can ask for. Blessings to you and your family.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I have been lurking for long, but it is time to delurk now.

My condolences, Karen.

Everyone should be fortunate enough to have someone like you to care for in the end. I can think of no better way to pass on than surrounded by the people you love. She is blessed, as are you.

Suzyhayze said...


My heart is with you. An end is an end is an end.

Whole Lot Of Love,


Tamika: said...

Oh, Karen I'm so sorry for your loss. I've been away from the blogsphere, and I'm just now making my rounds.

You are in prayers!

Jen Chandler said...


I had a feeling I needed to check in with you. I haven't been in blog world since Thursday morning. You suddenly came to mind this afternoon. I'm so sorry for your loss! But I am very glad she was able to go peacefully and in the company of family at home.

My prayers are with you and your family.

Blessings and peace, friend,