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My mother who now lives in my home, is 93 with dementia and since her stroke last has been on Hospice. As she also has congestive heart failure and is unable to walk since her stroke, she lays in bed appearing to wait for the end which saddens me but I try to keep reminding myself that death is part of life. Both the Hospice Chaplin and friends tell me to need talk with my Mother and to let her know that I will be all right after her death and that it will make it easier for her to let go. and I know they are right, BUT, talking to her about the subject brings me to tears and I find it very difficult. Is there an easier way to talk about the subject of death with someone who going to die.

I don't think death itself has to be mentioned, in all truth, and personally have seen that go wrong as when my best friend, caring for her brother with AIDS, herself a hospice nurse, said "It's OK. You can go to the light." and he looked at her with absolute terror. She says she knew she went wrong, that he looked at her like "you mean I am DYING? NOW???" She says she has never said that again and she herself recommends that you say things that do not mention death or dying. People cannot die by their own wish to "let go". The body fights to live. So say things like "Do you know how much I love you. I have so many beautiful memories that you gave me. They will be with me all my life. Do you know how much you have taught me? Do you know how proud I am to be your daughter" Tell her things like "I will be OK all my life because you are my Mom". These things will give her peace without saying to her "OK. Ready for you to leave now". I am wishing you both peace. Remember, she is in her own world, with her own memories. Remind her of some of your fondest memories of your time together. Let those be what live now in her semi-dream state.
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My Husband refused to talk about death. Even when I met hem when I was in my mid 20's I would tell him... "when I die you can either plant me in the garden or put me in a plastic bag and put me at the curb on Thursday" and he would get upset and say he did not want to talk about it. I would bring up the subject of getting a Will done and that was the response I would get. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's he refused to talk about that either.
Did your mom talk about death or prolonged illness when she was healthy? Did she plan for her death?
It is difficult to start a conversation that may have been "taboo" in the past.
The best way is to just dive into the deep end of the pool and go for it.
Maybe start with the Chaplains suggestion that telling her that you love her and you are going to miss her but you are going to be alright. You can ask her if she would like to plan her funeral.
What she wants to wear, what songs, what passages if any she wants read.
Use this time to cry.
Crying is good, it is a release (you look like crap after a good cry but it is well worth it) The fix is a pint of ice cream eaten from the container with a big spoon
Use this time to hold her hand. Crawl into bed with her if you want. The sense of touch is so important and she needs that as do you.
To not want someone that is in pain or someone that has no quality of life to "hang on", to not die is selfish on our part. I know that my Husband would not have wanted to live any longer in the shell that he had become. He was no longer the smiling, funny, loving man with laughing blue eyes I had married 32 years previously he was empty.
I THOUGHT I was prepared, I thought I was ready but the morning he died I felt as if someone had ripped the heart out of my chest and stomped on it. (still feels that way sometimes and it will be 4 years in 12 days)
You will get through this.
This is important for your mom as much as it is for you.
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cherokeegrrl54 Oct 14, 2020
I understand exactly what you are saying. Thank you for these words. I felt the same way when my husband passed from pancreatic cancer. Like an empty shell just waiting to crack....but the years get a little easier and yes i will always miss him....he was my soulmate....
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Dying is hard work. I always said that if someone told me it was okay to let go now I would be pissed off! What I would want to hear are positive stories from the past and present, knowing that things are being taken care of, and things are in order. I would want to know my children and grandchildren are happy and doing what they love. I like things clean and orderly so that would be important too. I would want to be forgiven for any shortcomings and I would want to know I made a positive impact on peoples lives. I would want to hear I was loved. Then I would be able to let go knowing my family will be okay. So think about who your mother was and what brought her comfort and have that conversation. You can also take small actions like putting flowers in her room, playing her favorite music, and holding her hand. Think of things she might appreciate.
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NobodyGetsIt Oct 10, 2020
"Mepowers,"-

Nicely said -

When my dad had fast advancing Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, I brought hospice in. We had them set up the hospital bed in the room where he spent all his years playing the organ and his keyboard. I then brought my CD player along with all my soft, instrumental CD's and had them playing in the background. He was no longer talking but the day before he died, I sat and read to him and then the next day, I sat alone with him beside his bed and sang some hymns preparing him for his new eternal home to come. I think that turned out to be the best thing for both of us!

He had his say the week prior by telling my mom, myself and my husband that he wasn't afraid to die and that was the end of that conversation.

He died with very minimal pain as well as peacefully. I was so grateful for that in spite of the terrible grief and shock having experienced death for the first time.
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This situation is so intensely personal. I had this problem with my mother in law. (She was more like a mom to me than my mother in law.)

I called my mother in law ‘mom.’ She told me when I became engaged to her son not to remain formal.

She insisted that I call her by her first name or ‘mom’ if I desired. It was easy for me to call her mom. She was a lovely woman.

We were extremely close, even closer than I was to my own mom. She tried to prepare me for her death.

She had non Hodgkin’s lymphoma that had gone into remission for five years.

When mom’s cancer returned returned she sought treatment at M. D. Anderson but there wasn’t any chance of her beating it.

She was ready to go. She told me all of the things in her life that she had been grateful for.

I didn’t realize that it was the end. Looking back I see now that I was in complete denial.

Mom was really concerned about me because I kept telling her to fight and that she would beat it again.

Mom was wise enough to see that I wasn’t hearing her message to me. Plus, she was exhausted. She had fought as hard as she could.

During a hospital visit her oncologist said to me very matter of factly, “Let’s go take a walk.” I told her, “Sure.”

We walked down a long hospital corridor and she told me that mom was concerned about me. I said, “Well, she doesn’t have to be. She’s going to beat this cancer again and I am praying for a miracle because I can’t lose her.”

This incredible oncologist said to me, “Go ahead and pray for your miracle but as her doctor I am telling you that she is dying and you are being very selfish. She told me that she wants you to accept her death and she asked me to speak to you. Please go into your mother in law’s room and tell her that you will accept her death and be fine.”

As soon as I heard the doctor call me selfish I snapped out of my denial. Some people may have been offended with this doctor. She’s a ‘no nonsense’ woman! I was grateful that she spoke to me honestly but with compassion.

I followed the doctor’s orders. Mom died not long afterwards. Mom died at 68, just a few years older than I am now.

I felt that she left this world too early but I am so grateful for the 15 plus years that I had her as a mother in law.

I became grateful that she was no longer suffering. She was ready to die. Some people are scared. She wasn’t the least bit frightened by death.

My father in law couldn’t handle her suffering and he caused a lot of anxiety for everyone.

My mother in law was the best! She was treated horribly by her mom and mother in law and promised me that she would never hurt me.

She kept her word! She broke cycles of abuse. I adored her! May she Rest In Peace. She will live in my heart forever.

Your feelings are normal. We go through a range of different emotions. It’s hard to cope. I wish peace for you and your mom.
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Sendhelp Oct 14, 2020
😢
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I got told by people in real life and here on the forum that I should let my mother know that it was OK to let go if she was tired and that everything would be OK if she chose to stop fighting and because it was incomprehensible to me what was keeping her alive I tried to have that conversation a few times over the course of her illness. It did not go well, in fact in my final attempt my mother was clearly upset and terrified of the idea of dying and I vowed never to bring it up again. Just because this advice is popular does not mean it is right because one size doesn't fit all, she will go when she is ready regardless.
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When my sister was close to dying of metastatic cancer, one evening I softly mentioned to her that it was acceptable to "let go".   Being a nurse, she understood what I meant, and we had a brief exchange, in which she stated that she just wasn't ready to give up.   I understood and never mentioned it again.
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NobodyGetsIt Oct 10, 2020
"GardenArtist," - I think it was helpful that your sister had been a nurse allowing the two of you to have that brief exchange and she made it known she wasn't ready to give up. That's what helped you to understand thus never having to mention it again. That worked beautifully in your personal situation and I'm glad you had that moment with her.
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This is a subject we are clumsy at because we have no practice and it is really something we do not want to talk about. I worked in hospice and found there are many ways to have these conversations - from how to broach the subject, to what to say and how to handle push back. I wrote a book that is a 2020 Eric Hoffer award finalist called 'Dying Well Prepared: Conversations and Choices'. It is available at Amazon but you can probably get it from your local library. It has examples and suggested language you can use that is very helpful.
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NeedHelpWithMom Oct 14, 2020
Thanks for sharing this information.
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I am so sorry that your mom - and you - are in this situation. Thinking or expressing a loved one leaving is so very hard because you experience the sorrow of loss. I can understand that emotionally you don't want your mom to go away.

That being said, practice at anything makes it easier. Try practicing in different methods as a dress rehearsal to "the talk." Write notes about what you want to say. Take time in the shower (when nobody can hear you) and practice saying good bye. Take time alone to pray and ask God for strength and peace. Read portions of the Bible that deal with death and the afterlife. In a couple of days, you should find the poise you need to talk to mom and give her permission to depart when she is ready.

As an RN, I have been at many bedsides where a person passed from life. Most people hold on until they feel their life tasks are complete: visits from family and friends completed, given permission to leave, any life tasks left will be completed by others, and last rites for those who desire them. Some people leave with everybody in attendance. Others choose to slip away when they have privacy. Know that giving your mom permission to leave, eases her concerns at the end of her life.
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NeedHelpWithMom Oct 14, 2020
I believe this too. My friend was continually at her mom’s bedside. The nurse convinced her to go home and rest. No sooner did she get home when they called her and said that her mom died. She believes and I do too, that her mom did not want to die in front of her.
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Perhaps say something like "I'm so happy we are together right now. I'm so happy and thankful that you are my mother. And I know we will all be together again after we pass on to life everlasting. This isn't easy for me to say mom but I want you to know that I will be OK if you are ready to move on to the next life. I will be sad and certainly miss you but I will always remember you and will look forward to seeing you again when that day comes. For now, you do what you need to do and I will be here by your side. I love you now and always." Hugs to you and mom. It's not an easy time.
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NobodyGetsIt Oct 14, 2020
Dear "renoir,"

That is beautiful beyond any other words I can say!
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I think the death conversation should be had before our loved ones are even sick. Having it when you are at death's door is a little late IMO. Not to get all religious here but having a relationship with God during your young, healthy years goes a long way towards not being petrified at the end of your life.

As for when to have the good bye conversation, look for a moment when your loved one is feeling relaxed. Ease into it. If they don't seem open to talking don't force it. Pray together if they are willing.
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NeedHelpWithMom Oct 14, 2020
Gershun,

Having a spiritual life is comforting for most.

I know a woman who just turned 80 this month.

She has enormous love for God, but she tells me that she is afraid to die.

It’s very personal to each individual.

When I asked her what she was afraid of. She said, “What if I don’t make it to heaven?”

I told her that God’s mercy and forgiveness was bigger than any of her sins but my words did not comfort her.

She is terrified to die. It’s sad.
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