Melissa Rivers describes Joan's last moments: 'I held her'

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Melissa Rivers Describes Joan's Last Moments: 'I Held Her'


ET's Nancy O'Dell visited Melissa Rivers at her home, and the two shared tears over the memory of Joan Rivers eight months after her passing.

NEWS: Why Joan Rivers Didn't Have to Die

The mother-daughter bond between Joan and Melissa was unbreakable, and became a source of strength for Melissa in making the decision to take her mother off life support.

"No matter how prepared you are for it, you're not ready," Melissa told Nancy. "You're not ready, and they put the pen in your hand and they hand you the paper and you do what you have to do and what you were raised to do."

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Melissa Rivers describes Joan's last moments: 'I held her'
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Joan Rivers (R) and daughter Melissa Rivers attend the 2014 NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Upfronts at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on May 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
Melissa Rivers, daughter of comedienne Joan Rivers, right and Cooper Endicott, 13, grandson of Rivers, leaves after a funeral service for Rivers at Temple Emanu-El (Photo By: James Keivom/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 09: Melissa Rivers, Joan Rivers and Mario Lopez are seen on April 9, 2014 at in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JMA/Star Max/GC Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 25: Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers arrives at the Clive Davis And The Recording Academy Annual Pre-GRAMMY Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 25, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 22: Joan Rivers (R) and daughter Melissa Rivers attend An Evening With Joan And Melissa Rivers at 92nd Street Y on January 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: (L-R) TV personalities Joan Rivers, Kelly Osbourne, and Melissa Rivers attend the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons honoring Lucian Grainge at The Beverly Hilton on January 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 13: Adam Lambert, Joan Rivers, Kelly Osbourne and Melissa Rivers attend the George Kotsiopoulos 'Glamorous by George' Book Launch Party Hosted by Joan and Melissa Rivers on January 13, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Graves/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: Edgar Cooper Endicott, Melissa Rivers and Joan Rivers attend the Vancouver Canucks vs New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden on November 30, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 04: Melissa Rivers (L) and Joan Rivers attend the E! Fashion Police Fashion Week Kickoff Party at Thompson Soho on September 4, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: TV hosts Joan and Melissa Rivers at the TV Guide stage during arrivals to the 47th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center February 13, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 31: Television personalities Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers speak onstage at the DoSomething.org and VH1's 2013 Do Something Awards at Avalon on July 31, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 31: Television personalities Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers speak onstage at the DoSomething.org and VH1's 2013 Do Something Awards at Avalon on July 31, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
CELEBRITY WIFE SWAP - 'Bristol & Willow Palin / Joan & Melissa Rivers' - Joan and Melissa Rivers, one of television's most popular mother-daughter duos, live together with Melissa's 12-year-old son, Cooper, in her Los Angeles, California home, which doubles as a television production office and the set of three TV shows produced there. Every day in the house is scheduled to the minute. While the Rivers' home is bustling with assistants, crew members and cameras, the family still find time to sit down together for dinner every night. Stepping into Melissa's shoes, Bristol Palin is not prepared for the Rivers' formality and schedule, and is reluctant to fill in as executive producer of 'Fashion Police.' When Joan throws a formal dinner party to welcome Bristol, it doesn't go as Bristol had expected, leading her to appreciate her life back in Alaska even more. But Bristol is determined to bring some more fun into the Rivers' lives before the week is over. 'Celebrity Wife Swap' is back and all-new on Sundays this summer, kicking things off SUNDAY, JUNE 23 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images) MELISSA RIVERS, JOAN RIVERS
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 16: Television personalities Joan Rivers (L) and daughter Melissa Rivers attend the HBO Golden Globe after party held at the Beverly Hilton on January 16, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
CELEBRITY WIFE SWAP - 'Bristol & Willow Palin / Joan & Melissa Rivers' - Joan and Melissa Rivers, one of television's most popular mother-daughter duos, live together with Melissa's 12-year-old son, Cooper, in her Los Angeles, California home, which doubles as a television production office and the set of three TV shows produced there. Every day in the house is scheduled to the minute. While the Rivers' home is bustling with assistants, crew members and cameras, the family still find time to sit down together for dinner every night. Stepping into Melissa's shoes, Bristol Palin is not prepared for the Rivers' formality and schedule, and is reluctant to fill in as executive producer of 'Fashion Police.' When Joan throws a formal dinner party to welcome Bristol, it doesn't go as Bristol had expected, leading her to appreciate her life back in Alaska even more. But Bristol is determined to bring some more fun into the Rivers' lives before the week is over. 'Celebrity Wife Swap' is back and all-new on Sundays this summer, kicking things off SUNDAY, JUNE 23 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images) EDGAR ENDICOTT, MELISSA RIVERS, JOAN RIVERS
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers attend the 2013 Matrix Awards at The Waldorf=Astoria on April 22, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01: Joan and Melissa Rivers attend the Gray Line New York honors We tv stars Joan & Melissa Rivers at Pier 78 on March 1, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: TV Guide Channel Correspondants Joan Rivers (L) and Melissa Rivers arrive to the 77th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on February 27, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01: (L-R) TV Personalities Melissa Rivers and Joan Rivers attend Gray Line New York honors WE tv stars Joan & Melissa Rivers at Pier 78 on March 1, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: (L-R) George Kotsiopoulos, Melissa Rivers and Joan Rivers on visit 'Extra' at The Grove on March 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Extra)
KATIE - 2/22/13 -Joan and Melissa Rivers visit KATIE, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images) JOAN RIVERS, MELISSA RIVERS
HOLLYWOOD - SEPTEMBER 18: TV personality Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers attend the TV Guide & Inside TV 2005 Emmy after party held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on September 18, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
KATIE - 2/22/13 -Joan and Melissa Rivers visit KATIE, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images) JOAN RIVERS, KATIE COURIC, MELISSA RIVERS
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 16: TV Guide Channel Hosts Melissa and Joan Rivers arrive to the 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel January 16, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Melissa Rivers and Joan Rivers are seen around Lincoln Center during Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on September 10, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: Melissa Rivers and Joan Rivers of 'Fashion Police' attend E! Networks 2012 Upfront at Gotham Hall on April 30, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 10: Actress Joan Rivers (L) and daughter Melissa arrive for the 10th Annual ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre on July 10, 2002 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
385801 05: E! Entertainment's fashion hosts, Joan Rivers, right, and her daughter Melissa, arrive at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards February 21, 2001 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Laura Farr/Newsmakers)
UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Joan and Melissa Rivers. (Photo by Diane Freed)
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Joan remained strong for her family until the very end.

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"They put a cot in the room for me, and I actually slept next to her bed that last night," Melissa said. "And then once they removed the ventilator, we knew it would take some time, and I got into the bed with her and held her. We were all there and standing there and I'm holding her and we're chatting, waiting. Finally the doctor says, 'Honestly, you guys need to leave the room for a while, because often people won't allow themselves to start to let go if everyone is in the room.' So we all took a little break for a second and about an hour after that she passed."

The special bond between Melissa and Joan carried over to Melissa's 14-year-old son Cooper, who mourned by his grandmother's bedside.

"[Cooper] sat there and held her hand and had a good cry," Melissa recalled. "He took his baseball hat and he put it in her hands and he said, 'Please make sure this stays with her.' And I made sure that it never left her side."

PHOTOS: Joan Rivers' 16 Best Quotes

Joan's death followed a routine endoscopy in August to evaluate changes in her voice and to deal with acid reflux. She was placed in a medically induced coma after going into cardiac arrest and passed away a week later at the age of 81. The death was classified as a "therapeutic complication," which means that the death officially resulted from a predictable complication of medical therapy.

An inquiry allegedly revealed that a photo was taken in the procedure room -- a notion that makes Melissa physically ill.

"I think the day I found out, I actually threw up," Melissa said. "God! It's so wrong on so many levels, and it actually strikes fear in me that somehow, someday, somewhere, that will get out."

NEWS: Joan Rivers Funeral Is A Fabulous Send Off

While Melissa still has bad days (she says in her darkest moments she "can't get off the floor") her new book, The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation, comes with a lighthearted tone more reminiscent of how the comedienne lived her life.

"In our family we always believed that laughter was the best medicine," Melissa says. "Not only are there less side effects than Prozac but it's a lot cheaper than therapy. I wanted to write a book that would make my mother laugh. I hope it makes you laugh, too."

NEWS: Melissa Rivers to Publish New Book Celebrating Joan Rivers

The Book of Joan is available now.​

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