One of the most difficult challenges I faced with my dad in particular was the deterioration from this tower of strength that used to be 6 feet tall and a broad 200 lbs. For two years his body slowly deteriorated, but the last six weeks was astounding. I was lifting him in my arms and cradling him. I just couldn’t believe it. It was so difficult for me to just look at his body, and I would say to myself, “this is the end?”, but it would continue. I prayed and mustered up the courage to always stay focused on his mind and soul which were still alert and fully present until his last day when his body finally moved into the final stages of closing down. I seemed to have adapted the attitude that his body wasn’t of importance any more.

I remember the night before he transitioned…he was happy with me knowing what my plans were in terms of publishing my journal which he knew I was keeping…he was excited that I was starting a new job the next day, and most of all, he knew in his heart that I was working diligently at moving on with my own life and sharing my gifts with others.

It was that night and only that night that he held my hand so tightly and in a low voice said, “help me Gail” and even now as I am writing this I cried as I did then when I responded to him and said, “You are in the hands of God, Daddy.” I have tried everything I could do within me to assist you in love, providing the right care etc.

After, I quickly sought the assistance of Barbara, who was the Hospice Nurse and an “Angel”. We both sat on the bed embracing and supporting my father sharing that it would be safe to let go when it was his time. After about a half hour, he drifted into a peaceful sleep. I went home that night and just cried myself to sleep sending thoughts to my father that it was okay to let go…that he was complete with all of us and that we knew he loved us and he knew how much we loved him.

He was leaving this plane yet his soul knew what was transpiring.

The next day I started my new job and was called by Hospice to come immediately to him as his pressure was dropping quickly. I remember talking out loud to him during the taxi ride, thinking I might not have the opportunity to be with him as he slipped from the earthly plane to the next dimension.

When I arrived, Bob, our Hospice Social Worker was sitting on the bed talking to him. My father’s eyes were closed, his arms and legs flailing about rapidly, and I sat down on the other side of my father’s bed and touched him gently saying that I was here for him. In an instant the flailing ceased and there was a peace that pervaded his body and soul. Bob welled with tears, shared that he knew my father’s soul was so fully present in these final stages he was going through. He was amazed how my father had responded to my touch and voice.

When my brother called from Florida, I placed the phone by his ear so that my father could hear my brother speaking…ever so slightly we could see his head shift a fraction so that he could hear….but my father was no longer on this plane…his soul was preparing him to leave and his bodily functions were closing down slowly and yet quickly. The rest of the day revealed many more experiences like this…

My Mother and I were with my father when he took his final breaths. While he never gained consciousness, his hands firmly held my mother’s and mine…as he drifted out of his body. He was at peace. It was so incredible to experience this…Such bittersweet memories…. My Mother and I prayed out loud for his soul to lift to the light where his parents, relatives and friends would greet him.

To this day, I’ve never felt guilt over anything I could have done or didn’t do. I knew in my heart and soul that I did everything I could to provide the quality of life, to nurture his soul, and to participate in the choices that my Dad had made as well.

© Copyrighted 04/09/2000

Gail R. Mitchell


  • Ms. Mitchell began her full-time caregiving experience in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dad’s passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

    Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

    Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

    She has presented at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

    Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

    For a list of clients and/or her resume, please contact

    Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada. Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

    Gail has discovered that there is life after caregiving: She has become a successful ceramic artist and installation artist. She created Crystal Illumination Art to bring the transformative quality of illumination, light and color to the human experience and celebrate its ability to inspire, heal and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.