Waiting for a Loved One to Die

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    Sep 04, 2009 3:59 AM GMT
    Hello all,

    Real Jock has been an amazing place for me to learn some things from others who have already gone before me, and I've tried to pass along some of my hard earned insight. I'm not sure which this is, but I'm going through a tough time, and wanted to know if anyone else had some good input.

    Last Saturday, my mother had a heart attack and basically died before the EMT's came and shocked her heart back into beating. After rushing to the hospital and having many tests done, we found that she had extensive brain damage and that there really was no real hope for survival. Granted, the heroic work done at by the EMT and other medical staff saved her from immediate death, we now have the unenviable process of waiting for my mother to die on her own. It's been 6 days, and despite the removal of all but pain medications, she is still surviving, although at a very basic level. She has been sick for 13 years, and has been going downhill for the past year, but this holding on (she's a fighter) has been excruciating for me and my family as we are waiting for her to pass on.

    I'm feeling compassionate, selfish, hurt, resigned, and a whole mix of other emotions. I've been hanging out in her hospital room for the past week with my father (their 49th wedding anniversary was the day before this happened) and trying to support him through this. The mother I had is no longer residing in the body that is there, and I've said all my goodbyes, cried enough tears, and been on enough rides of the emotional roller coaster for now.

    Has anyone else been through something like this?
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    Sep 04, 2009 4:16 AM GMT
    I have, twice - with both parents.

    It's a time of very conflicted feelings - wanting them to stay, wishing it was over, even looking forward to being independent. All that, and other things go through the mind. But you can't help it - it's one of those places in our lives where the unexperienced breaks in on us, and it's all new and all very real. And it's part of life.

    I sat by Mom's bed about five days into it - she had had a massive stroke, and she had been very clear that she didn't want to live on support - and held her hand and told her that we were all in good shape, that she'd taken good care of us, but that if she needed to go, we were all okay and she could. A few days later we took the decision to take her off life support, but before we could do that - she died on her own.

    A priest friend told me that most people die when they're alone - they seem to need privacy. We were with Mom and Dad very much of the time, but Mom at least died when i was running home for a shower. It was never clear when Dad went. I may have been with him - I hope I was.

    It's important to tell them we love them and that we're there. Over and over we hear how people do hear things like that.

    When she goes the confused and confusing emotions will continue. Don't dodge them - they're part of the deal. But know that they'll pass with time.

    I'll be thinking of you.

    Nat
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    Sep 04, 2009 4:37 AM GMT
    Thanks Nat. I keep hearing that they want to be alone when dying, but my father refuses to have her alone because he doesn't want her to die alone. Very frustrating, as he won't even give her the chance.

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    Sep 04, 2009 6:11 AM GMT
    oh that is so sad . . . i'm very sorry . . . seven years ago my mother struggled for a year and then she was dying and the last time I ever saw her alive was on her birthday (and I knew it would be the last time) . . .. it was a terrible week. . . please don't isolate yourself, and instead of turning to booze go to the gym . . . don't be proud; get support whenever you need it, be it here or elsewhere . . . hugs
  • TallGWMvballe...

    Posts: 1925

    Sep 04, 2009 8:05 AM GMT
    My mom died near you Matt. I grew up in YOUR town of Arlington, MA and in 2001 my mom died in a winchester hospital form acute COPD brought about by SMOKING!

    All the family had discussed with her what to do if if came down to her living with a breathing tube in a bed unable to move or get out, unable to eat or speak,,, in other words having a very low quality of life or letting her go... not using heroic means (feeding tube and trachea tube)
    With some reluctance she chose DNR (do no resuscitate)
    and I was charged with the final say when the time came.
    They called me in my home in LA at 3 AM to tell me she had lapsed into a coma with her blood O2 level falling below vital.
    They tried many drugs and the Gas mask for O2 (she already had been on bottled Ox for a year) and they told me the only hope now was the trachea tube and needed my permission.... with heart wrenching, soul searching, I reluctantly asked that the make he as comfortable as possible and spoke to two different Doctors and nurses before giving the order to abandon heroic measures... she passed quietly at 6 AM my time... I still have guilt from this decision but my family says I did what they all wanted and felt was right.

    Please ask me in private to tell you more details and the follow up if you like.


    I really DO know what you are going through and feel for you.

    -- Ron
  • jrs1

    Posts: 4388

    Sep 04, 2009 9:35 AM GMT
    tazzari saidI have, twice - with both parents.

    I'll be thinking of you.

    Nat


    I could never understand what you've been through. I write in this thread not because I have a shared experience, but instead because for the majority of my adolescence, I have seen my relatives pass on. It seemed as though summer after summer my nuclear family and I were returning to my parents' hometown in order to pay their respects. In life, we are given an essence - an energy, if you will - and once we pass on, those we have extended ourselves to will carry bits of that essence with them. So, when the time comes for her passing, one manner to view the tough situation is to understand that parts of her will always be with you which none can take.

    I'm sorry for the losses that all have incurred.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 04, 2009 10:36 AM GMT
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    Sep 04, 2009 2:35 PM GMT

    Hey Matt, Your Dad is a good man to want to be a his love's side. I feel, from volunteer palliative care-giving, differently than others that have said to you people prefer being alone when dying.

    The soul is already a lonely voyager, even at the best of times. If she's already gone, and it's just the body operating like a slowing clock, then no harm done by any that want to be there. Sitting with Mom will hopefully give Dad some closure.


    thinking of you, -Doug
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    Sep 04, 2009 2:47 PM GMT
    matt45710 saidHello all,

    Real Jock has been an amazing place for me to learn some things from others who have already gone before me, and I've tried to pass along some of my hard earned insight. I'm not sure which this is, but I'm going through a tough time, and wanted to know if anyone else had some good input.

    Last Saturday, my mother had a heart attack and basically died before the EMT's came and shocked her heart back into beating. After rushing to the hospital and having many tests done, we found that she had extensive brain damage and that there really was no real hope for survival. Granted, the heroic work done at by the EMT and other medical staff saved her from immediate death, we now have the unenviable process of waiting for my mother to die on her own. It's been 6 days, and despite the removal of all but pain medications, she is still surviving, although at a very basic level. She has been sick for 13 years, and has been going downhill for the past year, but this holding on (she's a fighter) has been excruciating for me and my family as we are waiting for her to pass on.

    I'm feeling compassionate, selfish, hurt, resigned, and a whole mix of other emotions. I've been hanging out in her hospital room for the past week with my father (their 49th wedding anniversary was the day before this happened) and trying to support him through this. The mother I had is no longer residing in the body that is there, and I've said all my goodbyes, cried enough tears, and been on enough rides of the emotional roller coaster for now.

    Has anyone else been through something like this?



    Mate, my family recently went through this with my grandmother. What you need to do is have her moved into a Hospice, though that may not be possible if she is unable to give consent. Not sure if all it takes is next of kin. The hospice treated my grandmother with great care, while they made sure she was in no pain, and she died with dignity. A hospital could keep her alive indefinitely, and I seriously doubt this is how your mother would have wanted it.
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    Sep 04, 2009 3:00 PM GMT
    You and your Dad are going through what I've gone through with my grandparents. Deepest sympathies to you. You're doing the best that you can for both of your parents. Hopefully soon, your Mom will just "sleep away" and pass on very peacefully. Best of everything to you during this period of solicitude.

    Gregg
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    Sep 04, 2009 3:03 PM GMT
    Matt-
    I went through this in 2002 with my immediately family as my grandmother took 15 days once off life support to die. It was a heart-wrenching process.
    A lot went through our minds. We had to struggle with the hospital at several points which was the not case when she was moved to a different location.

    Her death brought us closer together and was the impetus for all of us to do our own life plans/health care directives.

    All of us miss her as she was a uniting force for all of my cousins and aunts and uncles. I'm sorry that you are going through this now. Sending you a big hug.

    Best regards,
    Perry
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    Sep 04, 2009 3:06 PM GMT
    I continue to think of you Ken and hope you're doing OK. Losing someone is very difficult but the waiting game is even harder. I lost my mother to Alzheimer's. A very long road traveled to watch the most important person in my life fade away. You never cry all the tears and the guilt of wishing it were over is tough but hardly selfish. I lost my dad to cancer. He tried to be strong but eventually he too feel victim to the grip of disease. Both were processes that took time but they were also processes that allowed me to grief while still enjoying their company. It remains hard to know that they're both gone but it's also a relief to know that neither is stuck in a place of suffering, pain and isolation.

    Hope you're doing well my friend. /don
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    Sep 04, 2009 3:52 PM GMT
    Just over a year ago, I lost my father to a slow battle with prostate cancer. Watching him wither away in pain and admit that he was scared for what came next was the hardest thing I have ever been through.
    I was exhausted, sad, angry, frustrated and I got tired of answering everyones questions about his condition.
    Then on the final day, I just got lost in the mystery of it all. Death is honest, inevitable.
    Everything I had hoped for with our relationship, our future, was gone, really. As much as I wanted to hope, I knew he wasn't coming back from this. I just watched him get smaller and smaller until it seemed impossible for him get any smaller. Watching someone you love suffer, is unbearable and haunting. I wanted to take it from him.

    The days that followed made me feel like a zombie.. I don't think I wanted to inhabit my body, it was just too much. Not only my own grief, but his friends, my family and mother, old neighbors, coworkers, etc. All the things I wanted to say seemed inappropriate and frightening, so I just said thanks, over and over.

    I dealt with it in terms I could understand and came up with the metaphor of waves.. How all at once they engulf you and just as quickly, retreat back to where they came from. I could feel myself over flow one second but be empty just moments later. I looked at him washing out to sea, every day getting a little further out, until one day he was just gone into the vastness of the water, swimming away from his broken body, his fear and our grief.
    I picture it a lot, (him swimming) and it replaces the hospital beds and horrible cancer treatments. It sounds silly, but just replacing the process with something a little more poetic in nature, (however untrue) helped me deal with it and gave me the mental escape I needed desperately.

    big hug to you.
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    Sep 04, 2009 4:10 PM GMT
    Thanks everyone. I'm sitting here in the Oncology/Hospice area of the hospital where I was born with her and my brother. She's been without fluids for 48 days and not urinating, so we're hoping that the end will come soon. She's laboring more to breathe, but she's a fighter.

    Thanks for all your concern. It's so helpful to know others have gone through this too, and that there are friends thinking of our family.

    I have a blog which is detailing her progress from my perspective. I'd rather not post the address here, but I'll send it to you if you email me.

    Hugs to you all.
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    Sep 04, 2009 4:16 PM GMT
    My mom passed in late May, after being on oxygen for just under 2 years, as a consequence of COPD. She was gravely ill, and called her siblings, and children, to be by her side. She had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) . When her hemoglobin went low, the morphine was turned up and she was allowed to pass peacefully. She was ready, and had prepared my dad, with whom she was married for 57 years. Life and death is part of the ongoing cycle that has happened for the ages. You think about the good things, and you let the rest go. You set your regrets aside, and you move on. You'll endure. You'll be fine. It's part of life's experience. For my dad, he didn't want mom to suffer any longer. For the rest of us, it was a relief, too. For you, it will happen soon enough. Hang in there. I was concerned about my dad, but Mom had prepared him well. He's traveling and spending very little time at home, which is what my ever optimistic mother would have wanted. You, too, will get beyond this. Humans have great strength that comes from within. Be sure not to have false belief systems, and look at it for what it is: the cycle of life. Nothing less; nothing more.
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    Sep 04, 2009 4:31 PM GMT
    matt45710 saidHello all,

    Real Jock has been an amazing place for me to learn some things from others who have already gone before me, and I've tried to pass along some of my hard earned insight. I'm not sure which this is, but I'm going through a tough time, and wanted to know if anyone else had some good input.

    Last Saturday, my mother had a heart attack and basically died before the EMT's came and shocked her heart back into beating. After rushing to the hospital and having many tests done, we found that she had extensive brain damage and that there really was no real hope for survival. Granted, the heroic work done at by the EMT and other medical staff saved her from immediate death, we now have the unenviable process of waiting for my mother to die on her own. It's been 6 days, and despite the removal of all but pain medications, she is still surviving, although at a very basic level. She has been sick for 13 years, and has been going downhill for the past year, but this holding on (she's a fighter) has been excruciating for me and my family as we are waiting for her to pass on.

    I'm feeling compassionate, selfish, hurt, resigned, and a whole mix of other emotions. I've been hanging out in her hospital room for the past week with my father (their 49th wedding anniversary was the day before this happened) and trying to support him through this. The mother I had is no longer residing in the body that is there, and I've said all my goodbyes, cried enough tears, and been on enough rides of the emotional roller coaster for now.

    Has anyone else been through something like this?


    I know what you are going thru and my prayers are with you.
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    Sep 04, 2009 4:33 PM GMT

    Yes actually. I was with my father and my mother when they passed. Dad from Parkinson's Disease and mom from Alzheimer's. Oddly, these were remarkable times.

    The week dad passed, even though he had Parkinson's (he had suffered a massive heart attack due to a fatty clot caused by a fall and broken hip), he began the week by giving us instructions. The first thing he said was, "don't let this hurt you."

    Mom, was more like your mother. She was in that endless daze that Alzheimer's brings where she knew nothing. None-the-less she had those remarkable moments when Alzheimer's released it's hold and even though she had rarely spoken a word, whole sentances would form. There were remarkable gifts that came out of that.

    I would say how you deal with this will depend on whether you have any faith in a higher being at all. If you are flat and rigid like many many gay men I know who believe that life is a giant swirl of chaos, then it is just another fact, another occurence in life. If you have faith, you'll know what to do.
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    Sep 04, 2009 7:47 PM GMT
    I don't have anything to add but I do want to just say that I am very sorry for your loss and sorrow. Completely.
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    Sep 04, 2009 8:04 PM GMT

    matt45710
    Last Saturday, my mother had a heart attack and basically died before the EMT's came and shocked her heart back into beating. After rushing to the hospital and having many tests done, we found that she had extensive brain damage and that there really was no real hope for survival. Granted, the heroic work done at by the EMT and other medical staff saved her from immediate death, we now have the unenviable process of waiting for my mother to die on her own. It's been 6 days, and despite the removal of all but pain medications, she is still surviving, although at a very basic level. She has been sick for 13 years, and has been going downhill for the past year, but this holding on (she's a fighter) has been excruciating for me and my family as we are waiting for her to pass on.

    I'm feeling compassionate, selfish, hurt, resigned, and a whole mix of other emotions. I've been hanging out in her hospital room for the past week with my father (their 49th wedding anniversary was the day before this happened) and trying to support him through this. The mother I had is no longer residing in the body that is there, and I've said all my goodbyes, cried enough tears, and been on enough rides of the emotional roller coaster for now.

    Has anyone else been through something like this?


    *hugs*

    I'm very sorry you've had to go through this. I've had to do this several times with relatives... I just did so the other week with my Great Aunt. She was diagnosed with Alzheimers several years ago, and my parents were named her guardians.

    She was the tiniest dearest little old lady. She never married. Last week, my parents were out of town to help my brother cope with surgery in TN. The rest home where my Aunt lives called and left a message while I was at work. My Aunt had developed an infection and had also contracted pneumonia. She was not likely to last long. I was the closest living relative in town, so I went over as soon as I heard, after work. I stayed by her bed, and then around 11:30 that night, she passed away. I was very lucky to at least have made it in time to see her and say good bye, and let her know that we all loved her very much. I was also very grateful to have our next door neighbors there to help. They have been family friends for decades, and were a source of comfort and strength I really needed.

    I really hope you're doing ok. You're defintely not alone.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Sep 05, 2009 8:59 AM GMT
    First I have to say I am very sorry for your loss

    From what you have written it sounds like your Mom is no longer conscious and functioning any more than keeping her body working
    You and your Dad are going to have to make some serious decisions on her quality of life issues
    Whether you are going to continue
    with heroic efforts or follow very well know medical guidelines that will allow her to go painlessly and in peace

    I wish you and your family the best
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    Sep 05, 2009 9:38 AM GMT
    Having lost my parents and brother several years ago in separate incidents within a span of 3 months I know exactly how you feel. It was a very strange turn of events. But luckily we were in the position of having one of the rooms in the house converted into a hospital room, (literally), and having a physician there 24/7
    When Mother died due to cancer, and was left alive on machines Father simply shut off the machines. When my brother was left in a coma after a motorcar wreck 8 weeks later, Father had the same unenvyable task of closing down the machines keeping him alive.
    Then 3 weeks after my brother, Father had a heart attack. The situation sounded strangley like yours. Father was at the club relaxing when it came upon him. The emt people brought him back, yet too much time had passed and he was left in a coma. After carting him home and getting him set up in the "hospital" room, he lingered for about 2 weeks. Finally after going through all of the emotions, I had had enough of the drama and shut off the machines.
    Hopefully your father will have the courage to do the same as well. He certainly has the compassion. This is evident.
    Hopefully either she will die soon on her own, or your father will make the right choice and turn off the machines. Either solution will be best for all. But most importantly for you. My best for you at this time.
    Cheers,
    Keith
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    Sep 05, 2009 1:49 PM GMT
    Thanks all. My mother passed away last night at 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time. I had left, and was actually at the gym doing a Real Jock workout when it happened. She fought for 6 days and survived without food or fluids. She was a real fighter.

    My Dad is devastated, but at least got some sleep last night. I'm off to the funeral home now to make the plans for the wake and funeral.

    I'm emotionally drained and numb. Thanks for all the support here guys.
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    Sep 05, 2009 2:09 PM GMT
    So sorry to hear this, Matt. My condolences.
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    Sep 05, 2009 3:51 PM GMT
    Sorry for your loss, and you are in my thoughts.

    It will be very hard for your father after so many years together; he's fortunate to have you there.

    When my partner died, friends were wise enough to come be with me, but not to try to "cheer me up", which would have been insupportable. They were just there.

    Best wishes to you both,

    Nat
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Sep 06, 2009 12:05 AM GMT
    Matt so sorry about your loss! My condolences to you and your family!