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I just spent 10 days in Texas where my father was living with my brother and sis in law. He is suffering from Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), COPD, Diabetes and Liver Failure. He has advanced Edema and three falls and weakness put him into the hospital. I went to help find a facility to place him in, as my bro and sis in law felt they could no longer care for his medical needs at home. We found a very nice place for him, had him moved there from the hospital and, on the advice of the hospital, put him on Hospice. I stayed with him until he was comfortable and he was OK with me going home. It's been two weeks, and he has gotten better since the hospital visit. My brother and sister in law go to see him nearly every day. However, Hospice tells me he's hardly eating and he's drinking very little. His edema is getting worse, his legs are full of fluid and he has an arm that's blown up like a balloon and weeping. Hospice is treating him for advanced edema and for a blood clot in his arm. He say's he's in no pain (hospice is taking care of that too) and that he really likes where he is at and the care he is getting. He has a private room and bathroom with his own little patio. It really is a nice place.


My question is this... I have a vacation planned Nov 2nd through the 8th. I am going with my grown children and 10 yr old granddaughter (her first trip) to one of my favorite places to visit, Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and the Shed Aquarium and Planetarium on the Lake Michigan Waterfront. We took our daughter there for the first time when she was about my granddaugher's age and I've been looking forward to us taking our only granddaughter there when she was old enough. We have been planning this trip for months and tickets are bought and paid for. I'm worried though, that dad might be at deaths door by that time. What if hospice tells me his death is imminent? Or if I get a call on the way to Chicago? I would absolutely hate not being able to share this trip with my Granddaughter and see her excitement at seeing these great places for the first time. .... I would like to think that dad would tell me to go to Chicago...that I've done what I can do, but I wonder if I could live with the guilt if he dies and I could have been there. It's got me torn up inside, thinking about this. I'd very much appreciate your thoughts...

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I can't tell you how many vacations and trips we put off thinking my dad or my FIL would pass while we were gone. As it happened, we were with them both when they died. They were unaware of our presence, and we were glad we were there, but I know had we actually taken the trips--they would have been happy for us.

I'd say go on the trip. It's only a week or so--you cannot live the rest of your life waiting for your dad to die and the "what if" surrounding that. You have done all you can to this point, he's in good hands. Spend this time with family and try to leave the worries behind (do make sure the rest of the family can reach you.)
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I'm sorry to learn of this change in his situation.

It sounds as if your father has lymphedema, based on your description of the swelling. Not that everyone who has this will have the same outcome, but my aunt had this and was frustrated at trying to control it. It is difficult when the skin begins to weep from the retained fluid.

I mention this b/c it could affect his longevity. While my aunt did have treatment, including leg wraps which she said made her look like a hockey player with huge pads on their legs, the treatment wasn't able to control the edema. What we believe happened was that when her legs began weeping, bacteria from the leg wraps, or something ele, entered her system, she became septic, and died the same day she was admitted to the hospital.

I mention this not to frighten, but just to alert you to the possibility that there might be a sudden change in his status.

I am wondering though about the "treatment" of hospice for the edema. It's my understanding that someone in terminal stage wouldn't be given treatment other than palliative care. So perhaps I'm not understanding the whole situation. Do you know if the treatment is actually helping, and if it's hospice's goal to control the edema or just keep it from worsening?

I can only guess at the conflict you must feel. Besides the issue of the planned vacation, would you be taking your adult children and granddaughter to visit your father before he died? If so, perhaps you can add a "leg" to your journey and swing by to visit him before going on vacation. It might give you and those family members a sense of closure.

You could also ask yourself though, if he dies while you're on vacation, will you feel guilty? Can you handle this guilt? Many people could not. I couldn't.

Has there been any indication how long he'll live? Is there any consideration of removing him from hospice and returning him to a rehab or SNF?

If you think that your absence at a critical time might be more than you can handle, now or over time in the future, and/or that you're not available to support your family who are spending a lot of time with him, then I would try to be available. Perhaps you can get a refund on the tickets, or exchange them for future tickets.

I think there are 2 alternatives: spend time with him now and say your goodbyes now, then go on vacation, or reschedule the vacation. My personal feeling would that I'd reschedule. Vacations can be taken at any time, but being with someone's parent during his last days can't. Don't put yourself in a situation that you might regret.

I guess it boils down to which option is more important to you at this critical time in your father's life.
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Home from Vacation and had a great time! Dad was a good fellow and didn't die on me while I was gone. He even seems to be doing a bit better and is looking forward to Thanksgiving at his Assisted Living facility. We still have regular visits from his Hospice nurse, and still have the multiple health issues, any one of which could take him at any time, but he's not ready yet. He's a tough one. You go dad!
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What would your dad want you to do when he was younger and healthy? You have planned the trip and it will be a memory with grandma in Chicago. Go! He may pass while you are gone, but that may not be the case either. Some dying wait until noone is there to let go.

You cannot be planning life around his death. You need to live your life. How far will it be to dad if you go? A day trip? A couple of hours? Relieve your guilt. If he is not eating or drinking much he may very well be gone before the trip happens.
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You need to do what you can live with long-term.

Our daughter visited us for a couple of weeks from several states away. Her father enjoyed her visit. Several weeks after she left he went on hospice. She did not return then, nor did she come back for the memorial service. The entire family was perfectly OK with her decisions. I was really glad she had been here when her dad could most enjoy it.

You have recently visited your Dad and did him the great service of helping to find a suitable care center for him. To me, that is perhaps more important than being there the moment he dies. But that is a very personal decision.

I don't know where you live, but I can't imagine that you could simply "swing by" and visit your dad in Texas while you are on your way to Chicago. So I understand that this is an either/or decision.

I don't think there is a "right" answer to this question. Do what seems most appropriate to you ... and then DO NOT second-guess yourself. Make a decision and act accordingly.
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In 1999, our 2 kids were in high school & our son was graduating in June 2000. We felt it might be our last vacation as a family for a while before they left for college. So in May 1999, we planned & paid for a European vacation for our family set in Feb. 2000. My Dad had been on dialysis for 4 years already, but by July 1999, was in & out of hospital on a monthly basis. I was conflicted & needed to make a decision before December to cancel the vacation in order to be refunded. I decided to cancel since my Dad's health was deteriorating quickly. Well in Feb 2000, it appeared my Dad had improved. No hospitalizations. I know hindsight is 20/20, but due to my decision based on emotional fear & speculation, we lost out on the opportunity to have made unique family memories. It is unrealistic to "plan" & stop our lives just in case death arrives while we are living ours. Canceling our trip had nothing to do with my Dad doing better in February.
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Dustien, even if you cancel your trip and wait for that phone call, would you be able to get to his bedside in time? When my FIL was dying we got a call that he was given very little time, couple of weeks at the most. With four children in school and my husband working, any trip we planned had to be budgeted as to both time and money (Calif to Utah). If we went while he was still alive we would not be able to turn around a week later and go back for a funeral. Later that night when the phone rang at around 1:00 a.m. we knew that the decision had been made for us. So much for two more weeks.... A few years ago my husband was fortunate to arrive at his mother's bedside less than 24 hours before her death, so she passed through the veil with all three of her offspring at her side. (In her case it was kidney failure, so the doctors were able to pin her imminent death down to days instead of weeks or months.)

My daughter-in-law's great-aunt waited until my DIL's grandma (her sister, with whom she was very close) left on a trip and passed the next day. Years later that same grandma waited until her children and offspring had all visited in the hospital and passed after they left.

There is no predicting a loved one's time of departure, and indeed they may hang onto life until you are absent. There are stories of people leaving the bedside to have dinner and receiving the call that he or she is gone.

Here is my idea: Take pictures and short video clips of your vacation and send them with messages of love daily by phone or email to your brother to show your dad. He will know that you are thinking of him every day. It will also give him an opportunity to see and hear your granddaughter that he otherwise would not have.
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This is my experience with my own father's passing. (Didn't want to make that last post any longer than it is!):

My own father with a heart condition was given two to seven years. Try to plan around that prognosis! Although we lived 3000 miles apart I saw him on my annual trip to Florida. We both knew it would be very unlikely that I would be there when he passed, but we enjoyed each other's company when I could spend several weeks there.

In 2004 my three brothers and I were all together with our parents for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. My husband took the last photo of the six of us together. I never saw him again (my dad, not hubby!) but I cherish the memory of that gathering. He passed the following March while two of my brothers were visiting. I believe that he chose that time to go while my mother had the support of my brothers. (This was while she was still able to care for my father and before she needed to have someone with her 24/7, so she and my father were often alone at home.)

The interesting thing is that, although I had no guilt about not being there---and actually no one was, as he passed quietly in the night---the two brothers who were there did have feelings of guilt and regret. The day before they had asked Dad if he wanted to go out in the boat with them. (My parents lived on an inlet to a bay.) My father, a sea captain and avid fisherman, declined. He was just too weak and, unknown to my brothers at the time, literally on his way out. They lamented that they did not stay at the house to spend all of what turned out to be Dad's last day on earth with him.

An addendum to the above: I had to choose between a quick cross-country trip to view my father's body or make plans for an extended trip after his cremation. The former meant a brief visit, the latter meant I would be able to spend a few weeks visiting and supporting my mother. I chose the latter. I was also able to plan Dad's memorial service later on.

I guess the moral of this story, as well as my previous post, is to spend whatever quality time you can with loved ones while they live---and that includes children and grandchildren!---and don't trust any "plans" around their leaving.
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Too many long posts to read so if this has been said, I apologize. I have friends that had planned a vacation to Hawaii. Her father died during their 2 week vacation. She was told that the funeral home would keep her father until she got home and then she could have the funeral, which they did.
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Dustein You can put Your mind at ease as You and Your two Brothers have done every thing possible for Your Dad, and He's being well cared for now by Hospice. Go and enjoy Your trip with Your Little Grandaughter and make beautiful new memories, as where ever You are You are only a phone call away. There is really nothing that You can do for Your Dad now, so prepare to pack and remember chin up and NO regrets. Have a fabulous time.
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