Forced to make a decision

By Sarah RaparoliMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Deciding to turn off the life support of a partner, parent or child is one of the hardest decisions a person has to make. Kathy had to go through it almost three years ago. The Lëtzebuerger Journal spoke with her and a grief counsellor.

She is nervous. It is the first time she speaks so openly about the death of her mother and the consequences, Nina tells us before our interview. Nina is a good friend of Kathy. The latter asked before the scheduled interview if Nina could accompany her. As a little support. After a warm welcome, we sit down on a bench very close to the Moselle. The sun is shining and the ground is covered with red-brown leaves. The arrival of autumn cannot be overlooked. "Where should I start …", Kathy replies. The 33-year-old thinks for a moment. Her hands are clasped together. She looks up at the sky. "My mother had hip surgery …", she begins her story. After bringing this first sentence to her lips, the ice seems to be broken.

Due to her elevated blood pressure, her mother had to stay overnight in hospital for a check-up. "The next morning, her best friend called. My mother was not well", said Kathy. "I didn't think much of it, but went to the hospital anyway." At that time, Kathy had not known that her mother was already in a coma. "I also didn't know that an aneurysm (dilatation of a blood vessel, ed.) had burst overnight and her chances of survival were zero."


When she arrived at the hospital, she had to wait. "My family, with whom I had had no contact for 15 years, was also present. It was a lot at once – family, intensive care, my mother." Still, one hopes that the situation is not as bad as it feels, Kathy explains looking back. At some point, she says, the staff let her see her mother. "And then I was brought down to earth." She finds it hard to describe what she saw in front of her there. "Tubes everywhere. A constant beeping. My mother's head, which was totally deformed because the doctors couldn't release the pressure." This chaos of impressions overwhelmed her, she says.

She says the doctor explained to her that after discovering the ruptured aneurysm, he decided against surgery. "My mother  would have without a doubt become a nursing case. I didn't want that and I know very well that my mother didn't want that either. She was such a fun-loving person, so I'm glad the doctor decided against surgery." The medical professional had also told Kathy that her mother would be in a coma for the next few days and that her chances of recovery were "slim". "But I didn't hear that 'slim'. I didn't want to believe it. I just thought to myself, 'Bullshit, she's going to wake up'. We were still in our regular pub in Clausen the Tuesday before. 'It can't be, ' I thought to myself."

Kathy sat by her mother's bedside until late at night, reading to her from her book, playing Elvis Presley music. "That's what you do because you think it's the only right thing to do in a situation like that. I thought this would bring back my mother back." At some point, she says, the staff advised her to go home. After much hesitation, Kathy agreed.

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