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Stacey Brooks

Losing Joan Rivers is hard, losing a mother is harder

This April 30, 2012 file photo shows comedian and TV host Joan Rivers from the show "Fashion Police" and her daughter Melissa Rivers at an E! Network upfront event in New York. Rivers, the raucous, acid-tongued comedian who crashed the male-dominated realm of late-night talk shows and turned Hollywood red carpets into danger zones for badly dressed celebrities, died Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. She was 81. Rivers was hospitalized Aug. 28, after going into cardiac arrest at a doctor's office. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

I'm shocked that Joan Rivers is dead.

Although I knew how dire the situation was, I was hoping she would pull through. Her death personally touches my heart because I can relate to what her daughter, Melissa, is going through.

Taking my mother off life support was the single hardest decision I've ever made in my life.

No matter how old you are, there's something special about a mother's unconditional love. To think that Joan was going in for a routine procedure that wound up taking her life is unimaginable. It's certainly a reminder to never take one moment of your life for granted.

In my mom's case, she was suffering from pulmonary fibrosis. Her brain was functioning, but her body was failing her. She spent about two weeks in the hospital before she died. During that time, she was heavily sedated and had a breathing tube down her throat so she couldn't speak. She did scribble some notes on a notepad, but most of it was unintelligible.

A few days before she died, I snuck into her hospital room in the middle of the night, crawled into her bed and cuddled beside her. She didn't move or in any way acknowledge that I was there, but I choose to believe that she knew.

Like Melissa, I held my mom's hand through the very last moments of her life. I'll never forget what it sounded like when the machine flatlined and my mom was gone.

Let's just say that's a memory I'd rather forget.

I'm sure it's comforting for Melissa to know that thousands of people around the world are mourning her mother's death. Fans, friends and colleagues of Joan's are suffering a terrible loss.

But Joan was Melissa's mom, and now her mom is gone.

I bet Melissa will wonder what she could have done differently. She'll probably question whether her mom really needed that routine procedure. Did her mom choose the right doctor? At 81, should Joan have had that procedure done at a hospital as opposed to an outpatient clinic?

It's human nature to second guess and go through all of the what ifs. I can't possibly know what Melissa is thinking or feeling.

But I do know it's devastating to lose your mother. I also know that those terrible questions and what ifs haunted me.

I pray that Melissa will be able to focus on all of the wonderful memories she had with her mom, that she will find a way to laugh again, and direct her energy towards all of the things she can control, instead of all the things she can't.

Rest in peace, Joan. You will be missed.

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About the Author


Stacey hosts KTAR's entertainment reports weekday mornings on Arizona's Morning News. You can also hear her bright-hearted female perspective on the air as she "fills-in" on various talk shows on KTAR. She is the host of a weekly video feature on KTAR.com called, Short Takes, and writes a pop culture blog for the website as well. Stacey received a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern. She has been a Radio Host and TV Contributor in the Valley for more than a decade, and was named Best Voice on Radio by Phoenix Magazine. A multi-faceted host, Stacey describes herself as a news and entertainment junkie and someone who is passionate about pop culture. As the co-host of annual Radiothons, Stacey has helped to raise millions of dollars for Phoenix Children's Hospital. When she's not on-the-air, Stacey loves to hike, travel and spend time with her husband, Todd, and toy poodle, Skyler.

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