Can you actually help someone die with dignity?
Five years ago, I was the caregiver for my mother who was dying from lung cancer. We had never had the closest mother-daughter relationship in the past, but with a her prognosis ( one year ), we became very close. We both aploogized for past behaviors and let go of a lot of issues. She passed away at the Hospice care facility six days after her 66th birthday. She just slipped into unconsciousness and passed away two days after.
My father-in-law probably has less than a month to live. It is hard to tell with copd, but the hospice wokers feel the time is near.
My husband and I take care of him. He is complete denial about his disease. When the hospice nurse tells him that she has seen a steady decline, he argues with her or just ignores her. The chaplin has tried to address some issues with him,same thing. He refuses to talk about anything remotely spiritual, although he claims he believes in God. It is clear to all, that he is terrified and just lives in denial. The problem is, my husband and I are drowning in caregiver burnout and I know not talking about things are not healthy.
His symptoms are aweful; constant dypsnea, coughing, hacking, weakness. He refuses to take the small amount of morphine presrcibed for breathing or the atavan for anxiety. He refuses to change his disposable undies thatt become soaked. I have treid everything with him and for the most part I am patient and calm.
I do believe a part of him, must know the end is near. I have told him the choice is his,as far as his meds., but that I refuse to sit in the house with him all day and watch hims suffer, when there are meds., to help him.
All of this has of course made me question my own mortality. It just makes me physically sick to watch this old man, dying in agony and so many pains from his past that could be let go, if he just talked to my husband, his oldest son.
I know there might not be anything I can do, but I have decided to at least try to talk to him. He also denies being scared and denies denial. Sometimes, I feel like Alice in Wonderland, where everything is upside down.
Is it possible for my father-in-law to be so out of touch with his feelings, that he believes he is not even dying? Is it even possible for me to help him?