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Caregivers Who Have Lost Someone
What was like for you to watch your loved one die?
12 years ago, I watched my mother die. She fought and yelled, "Don't let me die" over and over again. She was in the hospital for a couple of days with all kinds of breathing problems and finally died on the second or third day. Not the sort of death experience one would expect for a Christian. She was the only one until 2 weeks ago when I watched my wife pass away. That term sounds friendlier than die.
My wife had Alzheimer's and showed the first symptoms 16+ years ago but it started to get worse about 10 years ago and she stopped walking and became bed and chair bound nearly 5 years ago and stopped speaking coherently a couple of years ago.
Then one day last month she stopped taking food and liquid. I watched her waste away for 12 days. The last 3 days she lay on her side and was barely breathing. I told her I loved her and kissed her goodbye every evening and for three days she was still here in the morning. The third day, I walking into the kitchen and ate a bowl of cereal and when I went back to her side, she was gone.
I have written on the spouses forum about it and in my Blog that I know she is safe and secure with the Lord now so what I miss is her company. But it was quiet around here for so long that a lot has not changed in my routine. I don't have to worry about her any more. I am surprised that I have not felt a surge of grief but I think it had just lasted so long that I am grieved out.
Mostly now, I remember her as she was. Full of life and always having a positive word for everyone. I regret not telling her how great she was more often and I wish I could hug and kiss her again. But my belief is that we will meet again in heaven.
I was with my mother when she died. Her heart stopped suddenly. The doctors got her heart started, but she never regained consciousness. My father, sister, and I were by her side when her heart stopped beating for good. I was in shock for about a year after her passing.
My father died almost 4 months ago from Dementia/AzD, but really, the good bye process began last spring when we placed him into assisted living. It was a year long good bye that was harder some days than others. About a month before he died, my brother and I discussed hospice, and I made the initial call for the assessment. At that point, I thought Dad might have a few months left with us. In reality, he lived only 3-1/2 weeks. I was with him the evening he died until just moments before he passed. That night when I entered his room, he was going through the "death rattle" and was making gargling noises when he inhaled and exhaled. I listened to this for 3 hrs. when he quieted down, I noticed that his breathing grew more and more shallow, and he became pale. The hospice nurse assured me that he would sleep through the night, so I gave him a kiss and told him that I loved him. He blinked and slightly nodded. I wasn't sure when I left that room if I would see him the next day. Sure enough, when I got home, I got the call that he had passed away. While I felt sadness as his passing, I also felt peace because he was no longer confused, agitated, upset, verbally abusive, physically combative. He is in Heaven, and hopefully he knows why we put him in assisted living for his last year--for his general well-being and safety.
My Mom passed away July 15....Although she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's type dementia almost 10 years ago, she started having signs years before that time. Her progression was very slow and was still walking with a walker/assistance and having some lucid conversations in April/May. She had pneumonia at the end of April and was hospitalized for 4 days. She declined rapidly after that time, refusing food and no longer walking nor supporting herself for transfers.
She started having low-grade fevers at night that would resolve by morning. I called in Hospice on July 9. The nurses agreed that she probably had months left. I am not sure if she realized that she was on Hospice and just gave up or if she was just ill and weak. She went downhill rapidly, refusing food and water and I could only administer medications that could be crushed and delivered with an oral syringe or placed under her tongue to dissolve. She became unresponsive on July 14 and died early July 15.
I closely monitored her vitals. Her heart rate was 190 and bp 110/60 the morning of July 14. Her temp was 102.5. O2 sats were only 50%. The Hospice nurse said that she had only hours to a few days at most. Her heart rate went down to 114 and stayed in that range. O2 sats moved up to 80 to 85%. But her temp went up to 104. I couldn't take her bp as my cuff was too large. She was on oxygen. I kept her on morphine for pain and xanax for anxiety throughout that day and night, administering as per Hospice recommendation, and using Tylenol suppositories for fever reduction. She never had a "rattle" but her breathing became more of a gasp than a breath. I held her hand, put cool cloths on her forehead, stroked her hair and kept telling her how much I loved her. Her eyes had been half open all day and she was breathing through her mouth. She closed her eyes, closed her mouth in a smile and never took another breath. I kept feeling her pulse until it stopped a few moments later.
I am glad it was just the two of us here together, just as it had been for so long. My biggest fear was that I would fall asleep and she would die alone, she always feared being alone. But I was awake and holding her and that gives me so much peace of mind. I may just still be numb but I haven't grieved yet, I've been really busy with arrangements and family, etc. My sibs have been pretty worthless throughout her illness, death and funeral. I honestly figured that the public grieving was all they would be good for, and that proved true....
I grieved for so many years throughout the course of this disease, I wonder if I am feeling as Larry does....all grieved out. I also believe in an afterlife and truly believe Mom is in Heaven with those she has missed so much these past years. This belief gives me a great deal of peace.
Its been over six months since I sat with mom as she took her last breaths. My emotional side goes up and down but I'm dealing with life and have moved forward.
At the moments of her passing, both her children (sis and I) were there holding her hands. We knew it was time for her struggles to end. There was a sense of relief as well as the sorrow.
Physically seeing her last breaths have been the hardest part of the letting go process for me. For some reason I feel like I should have been spared from having to see my mom gasping like that. I try to rationalize that other people have gone through worse, but sometimes that's not enough and I still feel sorry for myself and sis.
It was a lot like the rest of the journey, bitter with glimpses of love, confusing, overwhelming, exhausting and so much more.
My mother had been in a deep sleep for about two weeks, prior to that, she suffered. My father and I were in the room with her when she passed away. She was quiet, never worke up, she stopped breathing and it was like the light was turned off.
I was not with my father when he passed, I had left the room for about 30 minutes, my sibling was with him, when I got there sibling was holding his hand, he was not moving and at first, I thought that was good because he had been so restless and agitated the last couple of weeks of his life, my daughter came in and said, "do you notice his coloring?" "He's gone." He passed away while my sibling was with him holding his hand and she didn't know, she thought he was resting comfortably. I have to say his face looked peaceful, it was unlined, he just looked peacefully asleep. I am grateful he had someone with him, holding his hand. My sibling in looking back said he did squeeze her finger just a little and that must have been just before he left us.
When my second husband went over the rainbow bridge, I was the only one with him. He was the last in his family that I knew of. He went to be with our son 15 years ago tomorrow. I sat beside him for a week, tending him and brushing his hair every day. Three days before he left, he slipped into a coma. Twelve hours before his voyage, he woke up and wanted to go outside. There he spoke to me of what his wishes were for me on his departure. He spoke of seeing "them" ... I've written about it so I'll paste that here.From my book Don't Cry Broken Angel (unpublished but in the final edit!)
there by his bedside and listened to the ratting breaths coming from him with
lessening frequency. The rattle from his chest was frightening but I refused to
be drawn from his side. He was dying and there was nothing I could do about it.
around his room, the shadows dancing in the light from the hallway. I didn’t
turn on the television so I wouldn’t disturb him. I lay beside him, my body
pressed against his to keep him warm, a futile attempt at making him
comfortable I knew but, it was the least I could do after all he’d done for me.
drifted toward sleep as is apt to happen when one’s been up as long as I had
been. For the previous week, I’d been at his bedside, tending to his every need
and whim. I’d gone to the store for him, something I’d put off doing till
he was better. The doctor had taken me
outside into the hallway last night and told me that Andy would be lucky to
make it to morning. When he didn’t pass, I’d made the decision to get him the
angora socks he’d always wanted. After I put them on his feet, he’d woken up
and smiled then asked to be taken outside to smoke a cigarette. The doctor
allowed it, saying that it may very well be his last.
evening air was humid yet cool as summer turned to fall. The breeze was gentle
on my face as I talked to him about odd things.
you have to promise me that you’ll find someone else. I TOLD you that you’d be
burying me, remember?” I nodded and smiled sadly “I remember.”
looked around and leaned closer to me “Be careful, their watching us. I think
they are trying to get me” I looked around to see who he spoke of and, seeing
no one, furrowed my brow “Who?” He leaned even closer and whispered “The people
in black. One's right behind you!” I made to turn and look when he grabbed my
arm, his voice an urgent growl “Don’t LOOK for Gods sake, they’ll get you too!”
It dawned on me what he was seeing and
whispered “What do they look like, Andy? What do you see?” “They aren’t really
there…. More like the shadows deep under the trees, like the ones behind the
house. I can kinda see through them but… Damn, I wish I could paint them…. I
don’t have much time though. I think they’ll get me tonight. I had to tell you
something first though, before I go” My eyes welled up with tears at his
insistent urgency as I listened to him.
you cry for me damn it. Just don’t. Don’t you forget your promise to me, to go
on without me. You’ve got so much ahead of you and I have to go be with Justin.
He needs me now and your children will need you too.” Tears slipped from his
smoky blue eyes as he spoke the name of our son, his voice choked with emotion
between pulls off the cigarette tucked between his bone thin fingers.
I tried to speak but he stopped me, his voice
turning urgent again “Angel, you have to watch him. When he gets sick, you
WATCH him, watch him closely” “Who, Andy, I don’t understand” I was beginning
to think his medications had made him delusional but his eyes were clear, like
they had been before the cancer ravaged his flesh. He smiled and kissed me
softly “Your next husband. You’ll know him the moment you lay eyes on him.
Trust your instinct… and listen for my voice. I’ll be right there with you”
tears streaming down my cheeks I spoke, my choked voice barely a whisper “There
will never be anyone I could love like you, Andy.” He smiled and winked “No, there won’t. I’ve
spoiled you but, there is going to be another man or three. You’ve still got
two men to give birth to.” I laughed and shook my head “No, the doctor told me
there’s not going to be no kids, you know that” He grinned and leaned forward
“I’ve got connections now, Angel. I’m going to do something for you when I die.
You’ll see” He leaned back in the wheelchair and sighed, suddenly looking very
tired. “Take me upstairs, Angel. It’s almost time”
midnight, I slipped from his side and sat in the recliner by the bed after
tucking the quilt around his shoulders. I sat back and put my arm against his
as I looked up at the ceiling. His voice startled me when he spoke, as soft as
a kittens whiskers “Angel?” I took his hand in mine and lifted it to my lips,
placing a soft kiss on his icy knuckles “Right here baby” “I see my father…
he’s holding his hand to me…” he stopped and I waited, knowing he still needed
to say something “Angel?” “Yeah, baby?” “I’m tired… I want to go home” My heart
broke as tears slipped off my chin, my voice breaking as I replied “I know
baby, I know and it’s OK… Go to sleep
and it’ll be alright” “Angel?” His voice even softer “I love you, forever.
Remember that” I bit my lip hard enough to bleed before replying “I love you
too, more than the stars in the sky. You can rest now. It’s time to go home.
I’ll miss you…. I love you”
slipped off to sleep again and I lay in the recliner, silently crying, my arm
lying alongside his, skin to skin. Somewhere deep in the early morning I was
awakened by a tingling sensation in my arm, right where it touched his. The
tingle wasn’t unpleasant, it was soothing as it entered my arm and moved to my
shoulder then back down. A second time it went up the arm, across my chest and
was a warm tingle. My heart, which had been aching painfully, suddenly was
comforted. The tingle went back out my arm and, as I looked at Andy, watching
his breaths, I thought it was him somehow telling me goodbye. The third time it
traveled up my arm, across my chest and into my belly which warmed and, without
a doubt, I knew it was him telling me goodbye.
chest no longer rose, the ragged breaths he had been taking for three days was
silent and I knew he was gone. I waited for a minute then calmly walked to the
nurses station down the hall. I stood there a moment “Excuse me?” The nurse
looked up “Yes?” “He’s gone…” The nurse picked up the phone and dialed a number
then rushed to a small room to get a crash cart. She hurried to his room and I
went behind her, going to the far corner while they hooked him up and
officially flat lined him. I was fine till they turned on the monitor and
declared him officially gone. Then, I lost my composure for only a moment.
asked me some questions about organ donation to which I told them “I don’t know
what you can use but I’d like his corneas donated at least.” The nurse assured
me it would be done and left me alone with the phone. I called his best friend,
John, and told him. Then I called my aunt in Denver so she could tell my mom.
up the things in his room, cleaning things out that I’d brought and that were
given to him. I took the socks off his feet and washed them. I bathed his now
empty body, mostly so the nurses wouldn’t have to worry about it.
left, I thanked them all for making his last days as comfortable as possible.
They were an awesome group of people.
I am weeping while reading your excerpt. What an amazing and most tender account of his final moments.
THANK YOU for sharing!
That was really beautiful! I know it must have been awful to say good-bye to someone you loved so dearly. But by reading your profile, I know that what he had to tell you in his dying hours came true, you found another love and went on to have more children. How precious!
Even though it's been a while, I'm going to respond to your question with hopes that you will see it soon.
Watching my mother pass away was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I considered it her last gift to me to allow me to be present as she left this world. Being with the one who gave you life as they leave is an awesome privilege, in my opinion.
My mother was in the last stage of dementia but was not bed-ridden until the last week. They did get her up in a geri-chair about 3 days before she passed, but she spent most of her last week in bed with a couple different physical issues that contributed to her death. I spent most of every day with her, holding her hand, reading to her, listening to music together, singing to her (when I could), and doing whatever I could to make her comfortable.
I received a call about 2 a.m. the morning she passed away that her condition had changed and it wouldn't be long. My husband went with me and we were able to sit with her for nearly 5 hours before she passed. I would say it was very peaceful. The hospice nurse arrived shortly after we did and sat with us all night. I told my mother all I felt I needed to in order for her to feel free to go, actually several times because I knew she wouldn't remember. That was probably the hardest part.
There were a lot of hard decisions that last week and she did suffer a bit with the physical issues but fortunately hospice kept that to a minimum. But there were so many little events that week that I mulled over and over during the first several months after she died and I had a hard time reconciling myself to them. I did seek wise counsel a couple times to help me deal with the guilt that seems to come naturally.
It's been just over 2 years now that she's been gone. I can talk about it now without crying. And I have as many memories now of good times before she became ill (she was sick for over 9 years) as I do of the bad times we went through together during those years.
Everyone's grief journey is unique and each of us must find our own peace. I would just say to give yourself some time. It's still too soon to expect healing to have taken place. But seek out help in whatever way(s) work for you. I wish you well on your journey.
My husband transitioned in September, 2009. He had been so close to death so many times over the last two years and then like Lazarus rising from the grave up he would get. The last month he had really gone down hill and you could smell the death when you walked into the house. The death rattles could be heard from the door. It was a weekend and when I called the Hospice nurse, she said it would be Monday before she could get medications for the symptoms. I had told Richard he could go when he saw the Light but he said he had to take care of me.
Three weeks before he transitioned he had said he was going on his Birthday. The Hospice volunteer who had been reading the Bible to Richard for over a year had started to read Sylvia Brown's book on Angels. Richard acknowledge the angels that had been around for months and was able to see in to Heaven. He could not believe the Love he felt and saw.
On his birthday, I was going to get him dressed for the first time in three weeks. He had hurt his knee and had not been able to get out of bed for three weeks even with bath aides. I had laid his clothes out and told him I would get him dressed for his party. As I walked down the hall, He yelled to me: "Hurry Honey I see the Light and I have to go Come kiss me by. I Love You." These were the last words he said to me. He went blue but woke up when each child came in and the minister and church elder for communion. He told them he loved them and then went into a coma and stayed until his nephew returned from Asheville two days later.
That evening I did Healing Touch with a Sacred Chakra Opening to help him release his soul. His temp was 105 when we started and 101 when I finished. The hospice volunteer held the energy for me while I did this. The hospice volunteer read to Richard some more from the Book of Angels. Joe and I went to bed and Sean left. For three years Richard had me awake at 3am so I automatically woke up. I saw it was not going to be long and I got Joe up. We put on candles and soft music and told Richard he had finished his work on earth and he could go. I knew there was one thing more. I bent down and whispered into his ear that I wanted to thank him for raising Joe to be such a wonderful man. I knew he would make the best Daddy of our family and he would take such good care of me. With that he left peacefully.
My wife Dympna Clark White aka Bobbie started with diminta and ALZ took over 12 years ago. It is h...
not being able to carry on a conversation with her not knowing what she was thinking, wanting, or anything
I was her sole provider for over 11 years. We could not travel as we wanted to and had done every year.
We would eat out at Lubys, Furrs, and the likes where I could get a little of this and that to see what she
would like all other meals I fixed and hoped she would eat. She was a great cook and we would have a
group of 16 to 24 friends/family every month, always a great get together. When she came down with ALZ
It was a great lose for our family's. She loved to sew and made every thing anyone wanted made, in 1943
She was in Ft Worth sewing military Uniforms. While she was just sitting with something like a sheet or
blanket she would be measuring and making ruffles as if she was still making something.
I took care of her up until she broke 3 bones in her ankle by just turning from one counter top to the other
one. putting up silver ware. From there it was all down hill. She spent time in BMAC drove a spike up
thru her heal to hold the bones together some one pulled a cast off without carefully cleaning the spike
off from the packing and pulled the spike out and oops just jammed it back in and caused infection.
She went to Air Force Villi age for rehab .did good and we took her home 17 Nov 1014. At home we set
up cameras where ever she would be laying sitting eating. We could monitor her what ever she was doing
When she was asleep we would set the sensitivity up when ever she moved a leg/arm etc it would outline
her movement. If she made a sound it would wake you up out of a deep sleep if you got one. It was a great tool we could not have done it without it. (advice get one that you can plug into and electrical out
let, and one that can zoom in on their face and body)
Biggest problem was when she would sleep 24 plus hours at a time it hard to take sometimes she would
go for 34 hours, without the cameras to see her. She would never wet or drink eat etc for periods and
it made you worry so. Even with the cameras you would go check on her.
The other problem was she would just pass out any time, we called it being a wet noodle just limp and
really hard to keep her from falling. It started when I would take her to the toilet she would sit a while and
all at once she would collapse after a few times I called the nurse and she asked me not to do it any more
my myself because we could both be hurt. I let them clean her up in bed. All the time I took care of her]
She always told me when she had to go and never ever wet/BM in our bed. Once she broke her bones
and the operation with medicine during surgery she lost a lot of things. No matter how bad it was she
always had a smile on her face. She was never angry or yelling at any body. She was a sweet old lady
no matter how bad she hurt.
At home we had a 4 wheel walker to take her to the bathroom or mover her from one place to another, and later on when I could no longer lift her from bed to chair we used a 5 wheel typing chair with big wheel on it and tied the seat to one spot and moved her a lot easier that the big 4 wheeler. The bathroom doors was not wide enough 28 inches so the typing chair just rolled into the bathroom taking up a lot less space than anything else we tried.
During all the time I was taking care of my wife both of my shoulders were messed up to where I could not lift any thing away from my body. When we got her home she sat down on a chair to close to the front and she was going to fall face down onto the floor I grabbed the arms of the chair and saved her from the fall
but tour the tendon in right arm from shoulder to below the elbow, it hurt like.... but eased up a little later.
I kept lifting her in and out of beds, chairs etc. She had lost so much weight that I was afraid to touch her because I have so much strength in my hands from being a mechanic that I would have to reach way behind her back and my left tendon pulled down to the mussel. I went to MIL hospital to see if I could
get a brace so I could continue caring for her but no such luck. I talked them out of doing anything until
my wife passed on, I still have not done anything about it but will as soon a I can clear up all lose ends.
My daughter and I promised Bobbie that she would never be alone and never go to a nursing home.
Airforce Village set us up with home health care and they were taken over by Gentiva Home health care.
Every one wanted hospice to take over but I did not like some things and held off until I could no longer
care for my wife and my daughters were 24/7 for 8 months and we all had to throw up the white flag..
She was going and going fast was down less that 100lbs and hurting from 3 right hip surgeries since
1981 on April fools day. She had no meat on her bones and the screws in the hip from 3 replacements
was painful for her and no medicine was helping her. Gentiva Hospices move Hospital bed in and every
thing else that she could possibly use. The bed helped her where we would have to move her from one
position to another, the bed just crank it up her and there with no pain,
Hospices took over 27 March and she passed away on 4 April 2015. The morning of 4 April she was
in so much pain all doubled over and nothing was helping her. She could not take water, medicine
Then Thomas Kral showed up with new medicine giving her morphine every 2 hours and others
but stayed with us for over 2 hours doing what he could for her pain, she had 105 temp put some ice
to help cool her down and prepared the family for ammoniate end saying she would not last the night
and he cleaned her up and received a call for another delivery out of town and had to go. She passed
away 1 hour after he left. \
I an our daughters were setting at the table and the dog Ella was running around trying to jump up onto
the Hospital bed and jumped up on the cough to try I got up and put her in bed with Bobbie and put her
by her side and put Bobbies arm over the dogs back and she just rubbed her head and 10 minutes later
she passed away.
My Daughters all promised that she was never going to be alone and we kept that promise at BMAC,
Air Force Village and at home. I took the 6-6 night shift and the took the 6-6 day shift and we did every
thing for her feed, bathed, and watched over her. Left the medical to the Nurses and Doctors.
Want to say thanks to all that cared for her in all her sickness.
I miss her so much words cannot describe it.
Thanks for the chance to tell of her fight with Alz.
Dad was diagnosed in November, 2010, but I can go back about four more years to the early signs.
The last day he drove was the day before his sister was laid to rest (she battled Alz for 9 years). He nearly missed the drive in August, 2012 and never drove again
We went through physical battles, involuntary commitments, refusal to take meds and then a steep decline to needing care 24/7. After about 18 months of 24/7 care, he became incontinent (b&b) and basically unable to do anything at all for himself - feed himself, hold a cup, communicate, etc. We placed in him LTC on 8/29/2014 and he stayed pretty steady except for the occasional cough or skin issue. On 3/21 he choked a bit on food and then we only fed him ice cream, milk, yogurt. the following days he only had the same, in decreasing quantities. On 3/20, he choked again and took in very little. As we left that night, he was being put to bed and seemed like he had for the last week. At 5:30 am on 3/21 I received a call that he had run a fever overnight and was on oxygen. I got there at 5:45 and was told a chest x-ray was ordered and was two hours away. I asked that it be canceled and that he be put on comfort care. After speaking with his doctor about 6:15, I called my brother and mother to come on. At 7:30 he was given a dose of morphine. He did no more than squeeze my hand a few times - his eyes nor his body ever moved. At 8:15 I told my husband to go to his parents for breakfast as he does ever Saturday, thinking we could be there for days. Dad's breathing slowed at 8:30 and at 8:35 he was gone. Never moved a muscle, never batted an eye.
Having never been around death, I had no idea what to expect. It seemed like the most peaceful end in the world. It also seemed like the LTC facility was extremely quiet. Dad's roommate was not in the room - he was sitting calming in the hallway by the nurse's station.
Tomorrow is a month, I can still see his eyes, hear the oxygen machine pumping, and see the splotches of his skin.