Posted by: Michelle Stella Riordan | March 15, 2013

The Dark Road Deathwatch…

 Your Support Group



Look around.  Your support group will not be who you think it should be. 

I have 2 very strong women in my life walking this road as well.  Both lost their parent in the 2 months after my mom passed.  It sucked but fortunately we had each other to sound off to. 

I also had 2 awesome friends just step in to help me.  I needed that because I could barely keep life straight.

People will give you many suggestions.  It’s hard to pick and choose. 

The best tips I could ever share are these:

1 – Get a book, a pad or a folder to put all of the information in.  Don’t spend a lot.  Save that for gas.

2 – The night before any appointment, write down questions.  My mom and I would have a chat and discuss what was on  her mind or if something was aching her.

3 – Get a copy of a health care proxy or living will.  No putting it off.  Really.

4 – Get a 2nd and 3rd opinion.  Who cares if you offend a doctor?  He or she doesn’t have the final say and their word is not Gospel.

5 – Ask the secretary or receptionist if they give out any parking vouchers.  NO ONE TOLD US THAT!!!  It sucked that Columbia Presbyterian Hospital charges and arm & a leg for parking and did not tell us for many months that there was a $10.00 voucher.  I was already paying gas, tolls & parking. 

6 – Pack waters, granola bars, fruit, reading material, work stuff.  Many of these oncology appointments ran for hours.  My mom’s oncologist was normally 2-3 hours behind schedule.  Forget if you have extra tests to do.

7 – Ask about on-line access to medical records. 

8 – Be the other person’s advocate.  I can’t stress that enough.  It’s an overwhelming experience and hindsight is 20/20. 

9 – Keep a copy of everything.  There really needs to be an app or digital way to share your medical information.  The amount of wasted time filling out paperwork was STUPID.  I rarely use that word but it does apply here. 

10 – Work on a will.  It’s hard.  I know.  We talked about it for months before we put it on paper. 

Scenic, Nature & Landscape  Photography, Photography By Exposure

New York City – East River…not the Hudson

*** Talk about death. 

Laugh about it.  Cry about it.  Learn about it.  It’s an interesting journey to be on with someone.  My mom chose cremation.  We joked that maybe we’d do it Viking style, lay her on a boat in the Hudson River and set it afire in her honor.  I added that I could get us the Viking hats to wear as we saluted her along the shoreline.  We laughed so hard at that.  Can you imagine the strength it took for her to joke about that?  Think about it.  

CRW_8662 fire pbe

I learned more about my mom in that year and a half and gained a tremendous amount of respect for her.  In the end, you will not be the same person as when this journey started.  It’s hard to listen to someone cry because they have to pay an extra $10.00 for a prescription after all this. 

Do you have any tips to add? 

Please feel free to share your thoughts, your comments, your voice. 



Michelle Stella Riordan

Anyone can take a picture.  I leave an Impression.

Photography By Exposure

The Event Photo Booth

Corporate, Special Events Photographer


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