6 yrs taking care of my mother (last 3yrs in ALF). After a big stroke, she chose palliative care (AKA 'comfort care')... But it was awful convulsing & gurgling for 6 days. To tell u the truth, I felt bullied by the Neuro, cuz he told me 'mother had chosen' no feed, & no fluids...just palliative care. (That's pain meds only, till you starve, dehydrate, or overdose). Modern medicine forces bp pills & stuff on us to keep us alive, then snuff us out when it gets too expensive. I'm very glad I didn't have to choose for her, cuz I wouldn't have let them kill her that way...but the papers were signed by her, & she pretty much hated me for sending her to ALF 3 yrs earlier. It was a shock to just kill her tho. She never spoke a word to me in the hosp, (I mean before they took her I.Vs out & she was still aware & conscious). Ignored me completely & never looked at me once to say goodbye. The Dr had told her she wouldn't recover from the stroke, (be paralyzed)... I believed she cud fight thru. Didn't have the guts to override her choice. I feel most badly that she never turned her head to me &said 'thank you for all u did', or 'I love you', or 'it's ok honey', or 'this is what I want'...(never held my hand, or smiled at me) so I cud have SOMETHING, some kind of decent memory. I don't have guilt though. Don't be bullied by Drs if they try to rush you into this type 'care'.
I am so glad that you respected your mom’s wishes and didn’t try to override them. You are a good daughter to honor her last wishes.
I know someone who had medical power of attorney and did override her father’s wishes. It wasn’t the best option for her dad. You know how much longer he lived? Only two hours. Unfortunately, two hours of agony for him.
She instantly regretted having put him through additional suffering needlessly, both physically and emotionally. Of course, she didn’t want any additional suffering. She wished she had allowed her father to die with dignity.
He was ready to go. He did not want his life prolonged to be around for a short while longer.
I know that you would not have wanted any more suffering than she was experiencing already. You can be at peace knowing that she died as she wished.
I read through the responses and found them heartfelt and informative.
First of all grief is terrible and while I have already offered condolences I will tell you again that I am so sorry. Grief can hit us like large waves in the ocean. Then the waters calm for a bit and before you know it another wave comes.
My brother had hospice. Overall the care was very good. Does the care vary from place to place? Yes, it can. I’m sorry that you weren’t pleased with your mom’s care.
I was with my brother up until the second before he died. It’s difficult. There are mixed emotions. He was unconscious by that time. A part of me just wanted it to be over. Another part is selfish and we want more time for them to live. Then I realized, he wasn’t living but merely existing.
I asked the nurse if I should speak to him. She said, “Yes, I believe he can hear even if unconscious.” I was puzzled and asked her why she believed that. She said that she saw people come out of a coma and recall conversations. So, I did talk to him. I told him that I forgave him. We had our issues. I knew he forgave me for my offenses to him. I told him I loved him. I knew he loved me even though we were very different.
Your mom knew you cared. Don’t ever doubt that. She cared too. Sometimes people can’t express their feelings for various reasons.
It’s sad. It was her time. It’s hard watching people die. The hospice nurse told me that my brother was in a different realm and I believe her. As a nurse she knows a lot more about death than I do. So, I am taking her at her word.
If I am in hospice before my death I will ask for no prolonging of life, no feeding tubes, resuscitations, and drugs to keep me comfortable. My kids know this and they have agreed to respect my wishes like you did with your mom.
Be at peace.
You're adorable friend.
You are never mincemeat! Besides, mincemeat tarts are great! My mom used to make great ones. And no I'm not calling you a tart.
Ah, think I'll just shut up now before I totally insert my foot into my mouth.
The point I'm trying to make by telling this is I don't think it's natural to watch someone die. I think it's a perfect equation to make a person who is already in a very emotional state consider all sorts of strange things. Little hurts turn into big issues.
I think it was day five or six when I was carrying on my vigil by my mom's bed that a doctor wandered in. He saw that I was holding my mom's hand and he said "you know she doesn't know you are here anymore" I said I know, I'm just doing this for me now. He put his hand gently on my shoulder and left.
Tiger, any slights you may have felt from your mom at that point were escalated by the emotion of the situation. I truly feel that. A situation like that is bound to cause misunderstandings of a look, a feeling that you are being ignored etc. etc.
Add to that the anger with an Asswipe doctor, you are bound to be left feeling alone with mixed emotions that take forever to resolve.
Trust me, I understand.
Tiger, I'm sorry for how you're feeling about what happened, it just doesn't seem that anyone can make you feel better about it, at least for now. When did this happen?
As for your mom not saying thank you for all you did or I love you...could she had been given a large dose or doses of morphine (THEIR drug of choice)? I wasn't there so I'm not sure that when you say she was aware, if she was able to talk. As for the many BULLYING doctors out there, shame on them. I actually go to websites that allow you to review physicians and let them know they are BULLIES. In Hawaii, if you are an inpatient you get a hospitalist. Not an Attending. So you have no choices unless you wait for another hospitalist that comes on after 3-4 days. They rotate. They just push you into something. Dad got pushed into Hospice. Regrets regrets.....I don't really care what others say about hospice. This one killed dad. Also denied him services that are paid for by Medicare.
Tiger, please try to let the memories of your mom in hospital fade to a background place in your mind. I know I have had to do that. It's not easy and sometimes a certain smell or sound will trigger it but you can push it away. I know I sometimes let the feelings take over and have a good bawl. That sustains me for a little while until the next time. But try to not harbor these feelings of resentment. They only hurt you.
Are you going "mean" on us? I hope not, because we all love you.
As to brief? I tried it once. I don't like it. But I did re-read, and you are correct. I could have eliminated a lot. My partner is always trying to get me to do this. Now there are TWO of you.
It's as I always say here, it is lots easier to be angry than to grieve. If it helps you, I am glad.
About as brief as I can get, woman. Hugs out to you.
Tacy, not my experience of childbirth the first time, but the second time I thought I just had cramps from overeating, and barely made it in to give birth!
I WAS there, and with the help of Hospice, my SIL and the incredible folks here (I was texting in real time as mom was dying: I could NOT have done without the support I got) I made it to the other side. It was not pretty, but then neither is labor, you know?
Tiger: I know you're suffering, but you can be kinder to people who are trying to help you (and others). I hope you're able to find grief counseling.
As to your telling me that:
"people fight harder these days for the lives of their dogs"
I certainly hope NOT.
I lost, as you know, my last little elder dog two weeks ago last Saturday. I mourn her more than the others for the simple fact that, at 77 and 79 respectively my partner and I will now not get other animals to foist upon our poor kids when we die. So it is the "selfish suffering" thing. She herself is at peace, having died as gently and peacefully as she lived.
My little dog was well until the 10 days before she died. Then in little pain, but off all food, and sleeping lots; finally bleeding from her bowel. Best guess of vet was B cell Lymphoma, acute, of the gut. He said that we could hospice her, and possibly have a month to 5 months more with steroids. He said we could treat aggressively, not recommended.
That was not something that poor this sweet little 16 year old dog would ever deserve. Why should she be tortured and tormented because WE are too SELFISH to understand that all things die, that she had a good life, that there was nothing ahead for her but torture and torment.
We had her PTS painlessly and gently at home with one injection. I wish we could do as much for ourselves. No pain. No fear. No suffering. She is at peace and left this life as gently and as happily loved as she lived it all her life.
Vets have the highest suicide rate in this nation. People like to think that is because they see suffering. I think not. I believe they have the highest rate because they have access to the best instant relief from life that exists on this earth. I look forward to being able to implement the right to die that was hard won in my state. I will happily take that small cocktail and be on my way, where we ALL will go, man or beast. And where every soul on earth who passed before us has journeyed as well.
Don't be "surprised at" me. I fear death not at all. Suffering a long slow slide of loss after loss, pain after pain to satisfy someone who cannot let me go? Feeling that way would be what would surprise anyone who truly knows me.
Death is a terrible thing to witness. Reliving a loved ones death over and over again is cruelty that nobody should ever impose on themselves. Ever. Try to remember your mother in a happy moment, when she was laughing or smiling, or enjoying life in some way. Search your memory for one of those moments to hold onto, my friend, rather than to continue torturing yourself with her final days on Earth. You were a wonderful daughter, whether she was able to acknowledge that fact or not; whether she was able to properly thank you for all you'd done, or leave you with one small gesture of loving gratitude that you should have, but did not receive.
You did all you could have done, and she knew that. She just couldn't express it to you, for whatever reason. That was HER shortcoming rather than something you'd done wrong.
My father didn't say one single word to me during the nearly 2 week period he was actively dying with hospice. He did speak with others, but not me, for some reason. I choose to believe he was unable to bring himself to speak to me for fear he'd break down and cry. Rather than to think he was angry with me or didn't love me.
Please don't beat yourself up anymore thinking your mom was killed, or you "should have" done things differently. Now it's YOUR turn to live, free and clear of guilt, and with the knowledge that you did your very best for her. And that IS enough.
So, in Tiger's defense, she could have been coerced to put her mom on comfort care. I know I was. Yes, ultimately it was the right decision but I would have liked to have time to process it more and not feel I was being guilt driven into the decision.
I am so sorry it was so painful to see. I am so sorry there is so much in your own mind unsettled, because none of this can now be changed. We all die. I don't wish to live impaired, failing, with no upside. I don't wish to "fight through". I will tell you also that many if not MOST patients do "turn their faces to the wall" in the sense that they become completely uninterested in family at all. It's enough. They have had to concern themselves all their lives with comforting the family. Now they are on a private journey that doesn't any longer concern family in any way. It was one of the most uncomfortable things for families at the end.
I am an advocate of palliative care and will be until I am gone.
I am an advocate of hospice and will be until I am gone.
That's me. And that was also your Mom.
I know you are having a hard time periodically with this, Tiger, and I am so sorry. Your Mom wouldn't want that for you. No one wants that for you. You mother is not with us any more. But you are. You owe it to yourself to move on and through. No one can tell you how long the grieving process will go on. It is as individual as a fingerprint, and so many things factor in.
Wishing you healing, Tiger. It is all anyone wants for you.
But it terrifies me to think that others having to make these choices would not choose palliative and hospice over the torture that life can become for our elders.
the dying process is well understood by medicine and it isnt reversible . pouring on the morphine until they ' forget ' to inhale is a very loving thing to do . the patient is floating 9 miles high and likely has no desire to return to that failed body .