Is he dying?

Started by

My father has come home to, we think, die peacefully in his own space. As far as we can tell from his 3 hospitalizations since November, he has an underlying infection that no one has been able to locate and/or treat successfully. There are other issues compounding his illnesses, and so the palliative team at his last hospitalization 2 weeks ago agreed with our family that it was appropriate for him to go home and onto hospice. Last Friday, we were told he had 2-3 days based on his vitals and behaviors. But today he perked up, ate the most he's eaten in a week, and seemed in a rather good mood. Is this normal? It seems like he cycles through being completely out of it and in pain to being very nearly his old self. It's causing a lot of heartache among our family as we were prepared to say goodbye, in fact did say goodbye, last week, and yet he hangs on. Is this typical?

12 Comments

It's so hard to tell! I've heard of folks rallying just before the end, having a brief burst of energy--i'm told that my SIL, on Hospice with Pancreatic Cancer, perked up in her last 24 hours, got on the phone, sold 3 cars for her clients and then was gone the next morning.

I'd ask the hospice folks if they are seeing signs that this is a last hurrah or real improvement.

I'm so sorry you're going through this.
Dear svnycdbb,

I'm so sorry, I know this is not easy. My father seemed so normal three days before his passing and yet the last day of his life, there was no indication he would pass that afternoon. Same with my grandmother. She had a heart attack and kidney failure but the week before she passed, the doctor thought she was rallying. I guess this is only to say maybe this part of the journey.

Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.
Thank you for your comments. I know many other families experience this too. The cycling without a clear, expected ending is emotionally exhausting. My mother has said goodbye multiple times believing he would pass away that evening, except he has then rallied. It's happened several times now and my mother is heart sick. The cycle is exhausting.
My FIL did the same thing: he'd be essentially on death's door, we'd all race to the hospital to find him sitting up, eating soup, chatting with people!

It became pretty emotionally grueling.

The day he finally did pass, we once again hauled up to the hospital, fully expecting another day of just sitting--and he was in a coma and the dr. said he was not coming out of it. His breathing was different, his coloring has turned very gray--and we realized that this was time. Dr asked if he could administer some morphine to ease his breathing struggles, the kids said yes. Within 15 minutes he had passed.

It was exhausting--but it was a "normal" passing.
Grandfather was taken to hospital in a coma we thought that this was the end, as we were in the process of arranging things he sat up saying "I am not dead" I stayed with him chatting about everyday things for about four hours and he also had a meal and several drinks " I am feeling a bit tired now I am going to have a sleep, see you when I wake up" He turned on his side and passed away.
I am sorry that you are going through this. My Mom did a similar thing and it went on for over a year and a half. She kept rallying and they kept sending her to nursing homes for rehab after each hospitalization and telling her she would recover and go to her own home again, then she would go into end of life symptoms again and again this went on. She finally passed away and found peace on hospice in my home. I don't know why it had to be this way. My Dad decided one day to take a nap, put on his best pajamas and passed away. Everyone is different. My advice is to take it one day at a time and don't forget to take care and do little things for yourself so you don't burn out. Day at a time.
From this forum, I've learned this is common. My Mom's the same way. With her many issues, she could go today or two years from now. It's exhausting for everyone, most especially for Mom.
I don't know if "typical" but rallying is normal and generally desired. Hospital settings are "hot-beds" of disease and infection. Like Sepsis. Praise the Lord your father beat it!

You might want to start using Colloidal Silver - Food Grade - I add a couple drops to DH's first drink of the day and to mine and even the dog's food. We're all doing very well as the Silver kills bacteria. Also Food Grade Iodine - just a couple of drops.

My father was dying and the doctor said to call in the family. When we all gathered around his ICU bed - he rallied and lived another 10+ years!

Yes, it can be confusing to the family - but we decided that all our prayers (up and down the Eastern US) were answered and he recovered.
My stepfather did something very similar. Doctors sent him home and said he probably had 2-3 days to live. Next day he perked up, talked to friends/relatives all across the country, joked. I thought the doctors were crazy. Died the next day. Blessings to you at this special time.
My pastor once told me that it is a very common phenomenon for people to get a huge burst of energy, appear to rally and pass away. I pray for you and your family to have the strength to endure whatever comes. I would tell mom that she has already said goodbye, now just enjoy what time they have together, read to him or whatever they enjoyed doing, help her to find peace and rest as she is losing half of herself and is at risk of being overcome with emotions, bad health, etc.

May God bless you and your family on this difficult journey.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support