Skip to main content
Updated date:

Failure to Thrive - My Mother's Passing

Self published Christian romance author of four books, with more on the way. I may not be famous, but as long as I'm writing, I'm happy!

What is "Failure to Thrive"?

My mother passed away September 1, 2020. Cause of death: “failure to thrive” - a medical condition generally used to refer to children who fail to grow or maintain a normal body weight. However, the geriatric medical community borrowed the term to also include elderly patients who exhibit extreme weight loss, decreased appetite and poor nutrition, and inactivity, often accompanied by dehydration, depressive symptoms, impaired immune function, and low cholesterol. As Moma inched closer to her death, she was the “poster child” for failure to thrive in elderly adults.


40 Years of Pain and Suffering

With a long history of painful and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, among other compromising health conditions, Moma had declining health for as long as I can remember; her life a continuous revolving door in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals and rehab centers. With over 19 surgeries to her credit, her life revolved around doctor’s appointments and hospital stays. And while through the great skill of many fine doctors and health care professionals, Moma enjoyed many GOOD days of health, her arthritic-scathed body continued to deteriorate to the point where modern medicine was of little to no value in ensuring Moma a good quality of life in her advanced years.

After almost 40 years of fighting chronic rheumatoid arthritis pain, as well as other serious health issues, including liver disease and losing her right leg to a deadly septic infection, Moma’s body grew weaker and weaker. She developed problems swallowing and had choking spells that exacerbated her already high anxiety and panic attack issues and impeded her ability to eat. As she unconsciously starved herself, she rapidly lost weight. Despite our best attempts to help her gain weight by enticing her with her favorite foods and bringing her decadent treats, she continued to lose weight, and eventually lost her appetite altogether. The bird-size portions she was barely eating just wasn’t enough to strengthen and nourish her sickly body. When she died, she weighed a pitiful 57 pounds – most of it mere bone that stuck out of her gauntly, skeletal frame. The forty years of pain and suffering she had endured had finally taken its last toll on her physially, though amazingly her mind was still sharp and strong!

Her Tenacious Will to THRIVE

Although Moma’s cause of death may have been noted on her death certificate as “failure to thrive”, ironically, her life was MORE about her incredible tenacity to THRIVE despite all the many health challenges she faced over the years. From having to wear a five-pound halo brace around her head for two months after cervical neck surgery, to a scary brush with death resulting from a deadly septic infection from an infected knee replacement, Moma always managed to keep a fighting spirit and maintain an unshakeable faith in God that gave her the strength to keep going no matter how painful or hopeless the health challenge was. Even when she had her right leg amputated due to that same lethal knee infection, she faced it stoically and bravely, realizing the greater good that would come from ridding her body of a deadly infection. But that was not so unusual when you consider Moma came from a long line of strong willed, high spirited women. I remember both my great grandmother and grandmother being very tough minded, determined and even STUBBORN women. (And I am proud to say that I inherited many of those iron-willed traits myself!). As I told many others, Moma's mind was stronger than her body, and I believe it was that strong-willed tenacity to THRIVE that brought her through so many of her health challenges that would have otherwise sent her to an earlier grave!

God's Promise Kept

You know, I think I would disagree with the cause of Moma’ death. Moma didn’t die from a “failure to thrive”; but rather an indomitable will to leave her broken and pain-filled earthly body, to LIVE and THRIVE in a healthy spirit body in the eternal presence of her precious Lord and Savior!

To say Moma was a fighter was a gross understatement! She stoically faced every health challenge with great courage, hope, tenacity and an unshakeable trust in God, always looking for the “silver lining”, while simultaneously holding onto God’s trustworthy promise of one day restoring her body to perfect health.

In the early morning daylight hours of September 1, 2020, God made good on that promise and took Moma to Heaven in a brand new perfectly healthy spirit body!


Thriving Without Her

The hurt and pain of Moma’s passing is still fresh and raw, and until that hurt lessens, it’s hard for me to remember the better moments of her life. The stronger moments. The times when she outsmarted her health problems, as well as some of the doctors who treated her! The times when she gritted her teeth, put on a brave face, and trudged through another day of pain and suffering. The times when not even her own husband or children knew how close she was to falling down and just giving up. The times she THRIVED.

But one day, when my sorrow has lessened, and the painful memories of her death have faded, I’m going to expound on how my Moma THRIVED regardless of what life threw at her. And how because of HER great courage and ability to thrive in the face of so much adversity, I, too, can THRIVE as I move on in my life without her!

Rest in peace, Moma, and THRIVE in the eternal arms of Jesus!

In Memory of Moma

Me, my husband and my sweet Moma!

Me, my husband and my sweet Moma!


Lisa Tippette (author) from North Carolina on September 11, 2020:

Thank you Lorna. She really was a brave woman! I'm glad my story touched your heart. As for writing, it is a gift I inherited from my Moma, who was a very talented and gifted writer!

Lorna Lamon on September 11, 2020:

I am so sorry for your loss Lisa and what a brave lady your Moma was. She endured so much and yet faced it all with the strength of her faith and the love of her family.

Grief is a journey and I've made this journey with my father. Writing is a great way to ease the pain and tell your Moma's remarkable story. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute which touched my heart.

Related Articles