Life’s a Bitch

Dad was lying comatose, jaw dropped,
cheeks sunken, death’s head personified.
‘Nurse, why have you taken out his teeth?
Doesn’t he deserve his dignity in dying?’
My last memory of him – death’s a bitch.


The We Write Poems prompt this week is to write about a moment when we come upon someone we care for who isn’t aware of our presence.   This image of my father’s death has stayed with me for forty-five years, and even now, I have to make a conscious effort to remember the real Dad.  This prompt coincided with a Trifecta one-word prompt Bitch, using the definition “something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant.”


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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37 Responses to Life’s a Bitch

  1. Draug419 says:

    The last memory doesn’t have to be the one that you identify with a loved one. Just keep the better memories in the forefront (:


  2. Dawn Lamond says:

    Ouch! Wow, yeah…rough.


  3. I am reminded of my own father’s last moments, eyes shut in coma and I thought he was just asleep as I bid him goodbye. He still lies in the morgue, awaiting burial. Thank you for sharing. 🙂


  4. becca givens says:

    This hits deep for me as well, Viv. On the 21st was the 5th anniversary of my dad’s passing. Still difficult to think about … so many images replay from time to time, but especially during this month of the year. Thank you for sharing what many cannot write about.


  5. Rachael says:

    Beautiful & tragic poem. I am so sorry that this is your final memory of your dad.


  6. Wow! a wonderful poem that must have taken courage to write, Viv.


  7. siggiofmaine says:

    your poem, and the comments that followed…I also read WabiSabi’s poem…have made me think deep and hard to deaths that, as a nurse I was there for, hoping I made the experience better, more comforting than a bad memory. I’ll never know…but I DO know there are nurses, doctors, CNAs that I would not want attending to a dying person. There are also, and this is the majority of the nurses, CNAs that I worked with, those that are angels on earth.
    Thank you for opening this dialogue with your painful memory…I’m sure it is a comfort, in a way, to those who thought they were alone in the memory of a parents passing, to know that others unfortunately had similar experiences. I’ve said that poorly…I mean it with the best intentions.

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your father…and the painful memory these many years later.

    I was not present, by the way, for either of my parents deaths. They both died suddenly, without warning. My father died driving and was revived with CPR, and put on life support…I would not have made it in time for when he died…my daughter arrived an hour after his death, flying in from Maine in my place.

    Peace and love,


  8. WabiSabi says:

    Hi Viv. Here’s a link to the poem that your writing inspired yesterday. Thank you for sharing your poem. Some things can haunt us for a lifetime and writing about them sometimes helps. I’m glad to hear that you have good memories of your father too. Although my dad didn’t inspire my writing, he gave me a tremendous love of life, a sense of humor and my hazel eyes! Thanks again.


  9. Surge of emotion and goosebumps, Viv. Your brevity and pointedness in describing this bring the starkness and bare truth that has haunted you for so long. My heart breaks for you and hopes that the real father moments will be more and more present for you. ♥


  10. cecilia says:

    That is most definitely an unpleasant and difficult memory.. Succinct in delivery too.. c


  11. Yousei Hime says:

    I feel some understanding of the emotions conveyed in this. I feel all the more fortunate that I did not see my father’s final moments (they were rather quick though). Powerfully shared, thank you. Thank you too for visiting.


  12. Misky says:

    Similar to my memory of my father-in-law. I try very hard to replace it with a happier one.


  13. margo roby says:

    The comments are really interesting, ViV. While they seem to be roughly the same, they cover quite a spread of topics. I was too far to be with my dad when he died, but I’ll be there with my mum, when it happens. I now know to make sure dignity is there for her and us. Thank you.


  14. Dick Jones says:

    This vivid picture accords with my memory of my father in death, Viv.


  15. Such a sad moment. So sorry that this would be a memory you are left with.


  16. Ron. says:

    Tomorrow’s the 12th anniversary of my mother’s (very similar) passing. Clearly (and sadly) the responses here show that your experience–not to diminish its uniqueness–is shared by many; may, indeed, be universal. Of such things is great poetry made. Well done, V. Thanks.


  17. Sandra says:

    You captured something that a lot of us have been through, with exactly the same thoughts. Well done.


  18. kymminbarcelona says:

    Yeah, the only place death is elegant and pretty is in the movies.


  19. joetwo says:

    Dignity in death is a hot-button issue for us here in Ireland at the moment. Very apt.


  20. Pseu says:

    How interesting. I have been contemplating today the importance of being left with a good image of a dying person – wondering if there is a place for portraiture for some.


  21. barbara says:

    beautifully done! I am sorry for your loss


  22. Kim Song says:

    O_o Why have they taken out his teeth?


  23. atrm61 says:

    Very moving & intense.It brought back the memory of my Mom & Dad-very painful to remember.


  24. I am so sorry for your pain and anger. I know that it is still there because the poem conveys it so strongly. The book Death Be Not Proud written by I think John Dunne could have used your poem in it.


  25. WabiSabi says:

    This was a tremendously moving read for me. I feel profoundly sad that there was no one to make this moment easier for you. I watched my father die in a hospital 38 years ago and it was much the same. Death has no dignity and even today, nurses and doctors don’t have(or make) the time or sensitivity to make it less painful for those watching. Perhaps his teeth were removed to make it more comfortable for him to breathe and if someone had explained that to you, you may have been comforted by it.


  26. Wow. That punched me in my gut. Well done. And little dignity left in dying in this modern world sadly.


  27. Such an angry poem in so few lines. This reminds me of my Mum’s death; she was also sunken-faced but she had on a massive oxygen mask; she looked like an alien. It was frightening.


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