My sister finally got in contact with my mother's doctor, who listened (what a wonderful skill in a physician) and thanked my sister for calling and telling her about my mother's distress. My sister told her, "We realize that by keeping mom calm through the medication, she will most likely not eat or drink, and she will become dehydrated and die. We are okay with that. There is no quality of life, and she should be comfortable. She would be so distressed to know that she is upsetting the children who are visiting their family members."
The doctor wrote the orders. The hospice case manager talked to the nurses at the facility. The nurses at the facility figured out how to get the medication into my mother when she is groggy. And she rests.
I told the kids they were permitted to make the choice to see Grandma or not. Yesterday, when I went to the nursing home with Kiki, who asked to go, Mom was in the dining room. She was moaning gently on each exhale, and she was cold to the touch. Kiki and I rubbed her arms, rearranging them (it was lovely to see them relaxed), and tried to feed Mom. Her swallow reflex was very, very slow, but we managed to get two ounces or so of thickened milk into her. That was the most she had all day, and she was exhausted by the time that was done. She went to sleep, and Kiki and I took her to the nurse's station and asked to have mouth care and have her put in bed.
I called my sister and told her that we didn't have much time left. or, rather, Mom didn't have much time left.
Last night, I crawled into bed and fully expected to be tortured by this ghastly decision we had to make. Did we do the right thing? Intellectually, I know we did. And I don't care what the staff thinks, as they tend to roll their eyes warily at me anyway, much like someone would a stray dog, and this is my mother, not theirs. And I was pretty sure Mom would approve of not prolonging this. However, I wasn't bothered at all--in fact, I had lovely gentle dreams of my mother the way she used to be. When I woke up, I was flooded with warm memories and funny scenes of when I was a child. It was almost like Mom had visited me in the night, on some different realm, to reassure me that this is what she wanted, and she wished for us to be at peace like she would soon be.