I ask this because I am not afraid to die alone, also I would never be upset if those close to me couldn’t be there because it was too upsetting for them. I wouldn’t necessarily want someone to rearrange their life to say goodbye to me in person if they were living far away either. I would not feel unloved by them.
I have spoken to hospice nurses about this and have learned that everyone feels differently about this and that the person dying doesn’t always expect everyone to be there. I was told by the hospice organization that the caregiver, nurse, social worker or clergy, if requested, will be at the bedside of people who are afraid to die alone. I didn’t want to see my mom or dad draw their last breath. I visited very often and was there a few hours before they died. I have no regrets or guilt. I spent countless hours, days and years with my parents.
I have absolutely no issues at all with someone not wanting to see me at death’s door. Some people simply can’t emotionally handle it and I would never want to push anyone into something that they weren’t comfortable with. I feel that feeling this way has absolutely nothing to do with a lack of love for the person who is dying.
It is puzzling to me that so many people outside of the family truly expect all family members to be present at the time of death. The very last thing that I would want to do before dying would be laying a guilt trip on those who I know love me dearly for not being there. I never tell anyone that they will regret it if they don’t go to the bedside at the very end. I feel strongly that they should do what is best for themselves.
I totally agree. We are a Catholic family. My husband and I are practicing Catholics. I contacted our parish priest and he went to see mom in her hospice house.
Mom was very glad to see the priest. He prayed with her. The sacraments were important to her. She died with her rosary in her hand.
My brothers no longer practice the Catholic faith, and mom respected that, as do I.
Mom was more comfortable speaking about her faith with me. She knew that I would make arrangements for reconciliation, communion and a Catholic burial. I did for her what she did for her parents.
I even had some of the same nuns in school that taught her. I loved hearing about her as a young girl in school.
I agree with the doctor who spoke to you about the dying process. I feel that they are ‘done’ too. They leave their earthly bodies. I would think that if someone wanted their hand held that they would feel their touch, even if they were unconscious like my mom had been before she died.
I know that some people come back after near death experiences and tell others about everything that happened.
Awwwww….that was so sweet of you to hold their hands. I am sure that your family appreciated your touch during their time of leaving this earth. Some people are scared. Others are at peace. There is no right or wrong way to feel.
I specifically asked my brother’s social worker if he was afraid of dying. I was concerned about him being afraid. We never know what a person is truly feeling unless they share their emotions with us.
The social worker said that my brother was fiercely independent, which he was and that as much as he loved us, he didn’t ‘need’ us to be there at the exact moment of his death. She went on to say that her grandmother was terrified to die and she stayed with her until the very end.
My mom had visions of a child before her death. She said that she was was about five years old and promised her that she would be with her until the end. She told mom not to fear anything. Mom felt comforted by her presence. Some people would say that she was an angel. Others would say that she was hallucinating. The hospice caregivers said that many patients had visions before dying.
I agree with your entire post. Unless it’s a sudden death like an accident, I feel people know that they are actively dying. My mom and brother knew that they wouldn’t be walking out of their hospice house.
I had animals hide too. It was so odd with my last dog. He was a BIG dog, a greyhound! I loved him so much. He was getting old. He loved going to the dog park and as soon as he saw me getting his leash he would go to the door as if to say, “Okay, I am ready to go to the park!”
Poor guy was slowing down, hip problems and all and the vet told me that it was time to euthanize him. I knew that we would have to schedule euthanasia soon.
Well, the morning that we decided to bring him to the vets office, he saw us get his leash out, he didn’t go to the door. Somehow, he knew that he wasn’t going to the park.
He didn’t want to leave the house. It broke my heart. My husband who has had two shoulder surgeries had to pick up our 85 pound grey to put in his car. He calmed down at the vets, but you are right, JoAnn. They know that they are at the end of the their lives. People know too. I am convinced of this.
I also wonder about that too.
Cats and dogs (and probably other mammals) hide when they are dying. My GFs dog went into the wooded area around their house and died. We found one of our cats in a cabinet that we have no idea how he got in there. We also are mammals. So, maybe that feeling wanting to be alone is integrated into us.
My Mom closed her eyes and refused to get out of bed. I think she was aware of things going on around her but I think she was ready to go. I cannot to vigils. Can't just sit and wait. Went to visit, said my goodbyes and left. They pronounced her 20 min later. But that is when they checked on her. She may have passed right after I left. So you could sit for hours, get up to go to the bathroom, come back and they are gone.
I truly appreciate honest postings, such as yours. I totally understand how you feel about this. I feel it is overrated too. I was with my brother until a second before he died. The hospice nurse called me as I was starting my car to leave and said that he died the second after I left his room. I feel that it was meant to be that way.
I was with mom a few hours before she died. I don’t feel like I loved my brother or my mom any less because I wasn’t there when they took their last breath. Honestly. I was sort of afraid to see them die.
Also, my mom and brother had lapsed into unconsciousness before they died. I feel the same as you, like they were already traveling into the afterlife. I have never experienced a near death experience so I don’t know first hand how it works. I feel that they are no longer in their physical bodies.
I feel exactly like you do. It doesn’t matter if you can’t or don’t wish to be there with your loved one at the time of death. I realize that it is important to some people and others it can be traumatic or frightening. I believe it would have been upsetting for me. I wouldn’t want that as my last memory. My brother and mom didn’t expect it. It’s a personal decision for everyone. No one should judge or criticize anyone else regarding their choice.
I admire nurses and doctors. I could never do their job, watching people die on a regular basis.
My mom recently died in a hospice house at age 95. She had Parkinson’s disease and slight dementia.
My older brother went to the hospice house everyday, for just about all day. My younger brother went once or twice a week but towards the end of mom’s life, he didn’t seem to be able to cope with seeing mom withering away.
I went just about everyday but did not stay the entire day. I was always close to my parents, so I never felt like I had neglected mom in any way.
I told my older brother that our younger brother couldn’t handle seeing mom dying. My older brother was deeply concerned that my younger brother would regret not being there because his friend told him that he regrets not being there at the end when his mom died.
I insisted that our younger brother wouldn’t have regrets about not being there because he wasn’t upset about not being there at the end for our dad or our oldest brother when he died. Everyone feels differently about these things. It’s very personal.
So, one day I was speaking to mom’s caregiver. I asked her if she felt that mom needed us there 24/7 and she clearly said to me that my mom told her in conversations that they shared that she didn’t want us to put everything on hold for her. She was glad when we were there but she wouldn’t want us to be there if we weren’t able to.
My older brother was there because he hardly ever left her side. I am glad that he was because it was very important to him. My younger brother was not there. I wasn’t there. I had been there a few hours earlier. I can tell you that I do not have regrets about not being there. Nor does my younger brother.
I don’t think everyone is afraid to be alone when they die. Even if they are, I was told that a staff member would stay there with her. Maybe you can ask this question at your mom’s assisted living facility. See what they say, if this is weighing on your mind. You can also speak to clergy about visiting her and ask a social worker to visit. Your mom may not expect you to be there.
I do not expect others to be with me. I want people to do what they are comfortable with.
Best wishes to you and your mom. Take care.
I am struggling with this though when it comes to my 93 year old Mom. She is in an assisted living facility near my house. She has several terminal conditions, but she is amazingly tough and usually bounces back. Recently I canceled several things I had planned for this summer because she had an internal bleed and I was concerned she wouldn’t live long. But now she is doing quite well. I think she’s the type person who would want me there at the end, and I’ll do that for her if I can. But here’s the thing. I wouldn’t be surprised to get a call any day now that she’s died in her sleep, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her make it 5 more years. If I take trips or have an elective surgery, I may not be able to get to her in time. Any suggestions?
“If they want the money,” 🤣 You don’t mince words! I like that! 😊
I feel as you do. I think that the dying have some control over when they die. We hear accounts of incidents too many times to be coincidental.
Death isn’t ever like it’s shown in the movies.
I agree, I too would rather avoid someone else grief if it is painful for them to be present at my death. Yes! People on the other side are waiting for us.
I don’t even want a wake! I do not want people staring at my corpse. I want to be cremated, with no viewing before hand.
I'm sure I've posted this before, so if you've already read it, I apologize for repeating the story, but...
when 2nd sister came to see mom the last time - after a phone call telling her the end was imminent, and if she wanted to say her good-byes she'd better hurry her butt over, she and moron-husband (who clearly would have rather been having root canal with no anesthesia rather than support his wife while her mom was dying) deigned to grace us with their presence and come to say their goodbyes. Her husband made the following comment to my husband in regards to mom: "I had no idea she'd look that bad - I thought she'd at least be awake and talking!" To which my husband replied "What part of 'she's dying' did you NOT understand?". She and her husband both really had this movie-idea of the beautiful, tragic, dying person who's make-up is done a little paler than normal, sitting up in bed with slightly mussed hair saying these last, deep meaningful things to their loving family as they all wait for the end.
Real death doesn't happen like that. Even with a "peaceful" death. Some very horrific, un-dignified things happened to my mom in the hour before she passed, and I'm not talking about the body letting loose feces/urine in the end. I knew about that. The other things that happened - the things that only I saw, because I was alone with her at the time - those memories still swirl around in my brain, and believe me when I say, in light of what I did for a living, I am very familiar with death, especially violent death. But I am grateful that I was alone, because the only other person who I think could have handled what happened with me was my husband. Not my sisters or their husbands, and certainly not my niece, nephew or my children! I haven't even told them what I saw, because what would be the point? I am happy they were spared that scene.
So, if when my end comes, my family isn't there, I think if I'm cognizant enough, I will be feeling relief rather than dismay. If I can spare the people I love those last few horrific details, then so much the better. I know there are people who love me waiting on the other side to bring me to "home", so in that sense I won't be alone.
I told my older brother to leave my younger brother alone and allow him to do what is best for him. Both of my brothers have heart disease. Both have had heart attacks. My oldest brother has very serious heart issues and is in the hospital as I am typing this. He died during one of his heart surgeries. They brought him back. He had no NDE. In fact, he has no memories of it at all. No profound changes in his personality. He is very opinionated on how things should be done. I wish that he could get a grip on stress. He had a hard time adjusting to retirement. He was so used to being in command in a high stress job. I feel that he doesn’t know how to turn off the stress.
My mom didn’t expect us to be at her bedside around the clock. The hospice nurses and caregivers tried to tell him that he was neglecting his own needs and that is the last thing that mom wanted. He ignored them. I don’t know if he had extreme guilt due to not being close to her when he was younger or what. Mom knew that he was busy with work and didn’t expect him to constantly be there. He used to work very long hours at his job.
I had mom for 15 years in my home. He had her for a year and a half in his home. I wish he could’ve accepted that mom was cared for very, very well in the hospice house, so he did not have to be there for the majority of the day and night. The only time that he left was when I arrived, because I told him to go home and rest. He did show appreciation to the hospice staff and we gave a donation to the organization. Their major fundraiser was canceled due to Covid.
I know that it won’t be important to me to have my family be with me all day and night when I am dying.
"Being there" for someone's passing is more for the person who's living than it is for the one who's dying b/c the one who's dying isn't even 'there' anymore, but already on the other side, in most cases, watching what's going on in the room! By the time my father was actually in the active dying phase, he wasn't coherent at all.........I'm sure he had no idea WHO was in the room with him or who wasn't!
Spend time with the person while s/he is alive, THAT is the main thing in my opinion. Pay your respects once they pass, of course, be there if you can, don't sweat it if you can't or don't want to be, and that's that. Till we meet again should be the parting message, as I believe we'll be reunited once again when it's our turn to depart the earth.
”…..passed away (DIED) at home surrounded by his loving family…..” has become such a cliche in my local newspapers that sometimes you get the idea that someone’s making a video of it.
My father, the dearest person in my life, dropped dead in his garden while planting his asparagus, and wasn’t found until he’d already gone. Would it have been different for me, OR FOR HIM, if he’d lingered until I’d gotten there? I certainly don’t see how.
Then there was the social worker in training whose unveiled contempt towards me because I decided not to wait with my mother to die after a protracted siege of dementia and excruciating anxiety lingers as the only blot on losing Mom after a long self managed life.
Nope. A personal decision made for AND BY those who continue walking through life. No “crowds around the bed” for ME, please!
My mom was extremely close to her mother and I hated that the one time that she chose to go to lunch with friends, grandma died unexpectedly. My dad was with grandma. I hated seeing mom feel guilty. I told her that she wasn’t meant to be there. I truly don’t feel like it was a coincidence. We hear of incidents like that too often for it to be a coincidence. I understand this and know that it is very important for some people to be there if possible at the end.
Mom wasn’t with daddy either at the time of his death. Her sister though died in her arms as she was propping up her pillow. Mom never forgot that. It broke her heart. She and my aunt were very close. My aunt was a young widow and mom was always there for her. I do feel that mom found comfort in being there for her sister.