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Answers to Common Questions About End-of-Life Care


I’m so confused !! I’m sure it’s because that doesn’t like surprises and like to be in control
( my husband says that too, but I won’t let him know he’s got that right) My Grandma has lost 15 pounds in a month, she doesn’t eat but maybe once a day. I’d say her intake is around 200 calories a day. She is frail, wants to sleep all day long weather it’s in bed or in the chair. One minute I think she’s going to die in the next couple of days and then the next day she seems to perk up again. It’s such a rollercoaster ride ( I hate roller coasters) is she dying or not ??? Like I said I need to know why all these changes in her eating habits,her lack of communication, fatigue and her BP is getting low. As I mentioned she’s down 15 pounds ( 11% of body weight) in a month, we’ve had a couple of long days and nights with confusion, agitation and restlessness. I don’t know if I mentioned she has dementia. I think about end of stage 5/6. She only urinates 2x a day if that. How does she even still walk , get dressed and even have any strength left to even lift her head? She went to bed on Friday evening around 9:30pm and didn’t get out of bed until noon today ( Sunday ) didn’t eat or drink a thing.
I am going out of mind !! It’s horrible to witness it is horrible to not know what to prepare myself or my family for. One min we think were going to lose her over night and then back to watch her sit in the chair and stare .
I can’t sleep and my husband says she’s dying and he hates to watch it , he wish she’s just pass because what kind of life is this. I am not sure if I also mentioned Gramma is actually my gramma in law.
As a family we would rather it just happen instead of just waiting in fear . I am sure we sound horrible or a heartless family , we aren’t we love her but this drastic change in her has just put a toll on us.

Thank you so much for this information. I'm witnessing most of what is on this list. I cannot imagine what my Mother is going through & am a nervous wreck... not knowing what else to do. #cancersucks

Father 80 got dvt cancer 1 kidney not working the other is packing up hospital have uped his painkillers with something beggining with o after that its morphine hes got freezing feet warm body breathings bad whidpers when he does talk not eating nothing drinks a little sleeps alot hallucinations and today noticed dark under eyes they have sunken in so has his cheeks does ang body know how long we have to watch him suffering

I am a retired RN. I do some private duty. Once a week fill med trays and make sure all their medical issues are carried out. I have, up to now, a fairly active 90 yo lady. I Googled to find this article because I wanted to learn more about the topic. We know a lot about terminal illness or fast death cases, but never taught about, slow natural death. This helped a lot to confirm my suspicions about my assessment findings. Unfortunately the Dx for her symptoms is not favorable.

Good web page - my mom is in the stage of transition, speaks but words come out mumbled, she is had the death rattle in her cough and keeps moaning and moving her hands and is restless. Breaks my heart to see a wonderful person suffering in her last stages of life.

There are doctors and staff who consider anyone over their life expectancy is terminal even if they are perfectly healthy. What can be done to stop euthanasia. There are doctors who believe in euthanasia for their terminal patients unfortunately the elder always fall in the terminal catagory

No Rush
by Judy Faust
It’s the first Spring day in Maine, that really feels like Spring. Emerald grass soggy with rain, slightly overgrown, bends over the cool earth, and I, wearing my pink gardening gloves, am bent over the grass picking up pruned apple branches. I smell the burning fuel of the chainsaw as Phil works around the yard, his greasy old hunting vest, bright as the new daffodils dotting the lawn. A wave of contentment flows through me. Images begin of my mother’s garden in Connecticut. When I arrived last Spring she grabbed my hand and anxiously lead me outside to her garden.
“You have to see the towering cosmos!”
As if I could miss them! Brilliant violet, pink, orange, and red dots
leaning atop long willowy stems waving to us in the blinding sunshine.
“And the broccoli! We’ll have some for supper. Help me pick some parsley.”
I snipped off more than we needed, crunching on an extra mouthful
behind my mother’s back, as if she would mind. How tidy her garden was! Wild flowers grew along side the carefully cultivated pansies and petunias. Wood chip paths curved around vegetables. Flowers chatted with bees, and a handsome wooden gate embraced the happy plot.
Last Fall my mother moved to Florida into an enormous retirement village populated with her relatives and friends. There, other former Jewish refugees live the rest of their well-earned life in comfort, convenience, and luxury. Before Mom left Connecticut she tended her garden for the last time. Lovingly, she gave away her flowery friends to her African American neighbors. She sold the gate, tilled the land preparing it for its next phase. It returned to the bland expression of a blank lawn, part of the apartment complex.
“This will be my last move,” she said on her seventy-seventh birthday that June.
Mom doesn’t have time for gardens now. She dances at the Goldcoast and dines out. She has more friends then she had plants. She thinks of other things. My mother listens to the other retirees. She witnesses aging beauty. Considers more cosmetic surgery. Hears patterns of conversations at the pool about diseases, doctor appointments, grandchildren. She has moved into a fourth floor condominium with mirrors in every room and a view of the landscaped grounds stretching out below like a sunbather. Rushing past the louvered doors, she goes off dancing at the clubhouse or to have dinner with friends.
She called me yesterday. “I changed my will again.”
Oy, I hate the subject. It was about five years ago when she lived in Connecticut that she informed me she bought a plot for me. I would be buried next to her in the old Jewish cemetery. Remember, next to Kinney Park? Near our old house? Would I like that?
Oy. “Does it have an art supply store? A thrift store we can browse in? A bagel shop nearby for lunch?”
When she laughed and answered, yes, I replied, “As you wish. I am honored.” I was also embarrassed that she provided for me what I did not wish to face. “Yes, I’ll be there,” I had told her and I smirked,”No rush.”
Then came another.
“I changed my will again. I don’t like the old Jewish cemetery. It wasn’t what it used to be. The Jewish neighborhood turned into a ghetto of poverty and crime. All the people I once knew have died or moved. It isn’t home anymore.” She said, “Cremation. I sold the plots. I want cremation.”
Oy. I try to picture my dear mother, as ashes. I feel sick. I said, “As you wish, Mom. No rush.”
So now it is Spring, 2000. My fiance’ and I clean the yard, and prepare for spring plantings. We point at an old root cellar and he visualized a Monet pond. I dreamed of a vegetable garden, ripe fruit, new vines.
The phone rings.
My mother says, “I changed the will again.”
Silently I vow to God, Next life, no Gemini mother. Now what?
“Forget cremation. Too messy. What will you do with the ashes? I don’t want to burden you with the ashes.”
I can barely talk. Feels like I swallowed a beefsteak tomato. “What now?” I ask feebly, wondering what alternatives are left.
“I am donating my body to Science.”
What could be worse? She must have heard my heart drop.
A flood of reasons ensue. “I can help others and it costs less. I won’t be a burden...”
“A burden!” I cry loudly, “How could you be a burden?
“But you don’t have the money...”
I don’t know if I am choking on the subject of death, my inferior finances, or her new idea. “But, Mom, it is an honor to love you in life, or death!” I hold back tears, but she spews forth more good reasons. Exhausted, I croaked out, “As you wish. No rush.”
I go back to the broken branches scattered over the fresh spring grass, grasp a handful, and toss the bundle into the wheelbarrow. Phil was sawing off the dead branches of an old apple tree. He looked up at something, and shut off the chainsaw.
“Hey, Judy, do ya want me to leave this child’s swing in the tree?”
“I love swings...But, no. I don’t have time for swings.”
Returning to a young tree that Phil had nourished with ashes from the wood stove, I wept, as I picked up the last broken branch I could find. Tears dribbled into my mouth as I watched him take down the rusty swing. Phil fired up the chainsaw again. I sobbed as the old limbs fell. The whole yard had a new face without the old branches, the old swing. I helped Phil drag away the hallow sections. We studied some chunks, admired the shapes and the lines of age. Some were too interesting to burn for firewood. Perhaps I could use one as a planter, or as a decoration.
Perhaps I could plant a memorial garden for Mom right here when the time has come. Her spirit will be with God and nature, and her body will be, will be...with some vague thing we call Science! I remembered Dennis Camire’s poem about heart transplants, that organs have memories that live in the new hosts.
So someone in my future could crave cosmos in her garden, or have to waltz, or eat Schnitzel, or want to be near someone called Judy? Is donating organs like becoming seeds?
The yard was clear and ready for plans. See what develops. Maybe Mom will call.. No rush.

Thank you for helping me understand what to expect. My father is experiencing all of these symptoms.


Excellent web site. I lost my husband a couple of years ago, what an amazing journey it was for all of us, especially for Joe. Everything you have shared one can certainly learn from. Great opportunity when reading your articles to listen what has been shared.