My dad is dying. What do I do?


My dad lapses into a semi-conscious state. He has all of the signs and symptoms of impending death. I've been spending about 6 hours a day with him almost everyday. I took off work so I could be with him but I have no sick days or vacation days. If I'm not at work I'm not getting paid. I don't know how I can swing this financially. In my heart I feel that I need to be with my dad but I can't afford it financially and now I'm terrified because I can't pay my bills.

I've lost 20 lbs from stress and today my stomach is in knots again. I called to check on him and he's the same. I had planned on being with him all day today but I don't think I can do it again today. I need a break. For years my life has revolved around my father and nothing's changed except his address. I want to be with him as much as I can because he's going to lapse back into that semi-conscious state at any time. We know that. His vitals and blood work are all indicitive of impending death.

Before I took off work I was scheduled for 3 12-hour shifts in a row. My bosses were a little wary of that because they're aware of what my dad's going through and if something happens and I'm in the middle of a shift a replacement has to be found and I wouldn't be able to leave my patient until another nurse shows up. I could be there for hours knowing my dad is dying right that minute and NOT be able to get to my family. So my bosses and I compromised and I agreed to work 2 12-hour shifts instead of 3. But it wasn't ok. I had this nagging, poking feeling that my place is with my dad right now. I wanted to do the right thing but I didn't know what that was: go on and work my shifts or be with my dad. The thought of taking care of patients when I felt I needed to be taking care of my dad made me sick. However, I am not in good financial shape and I need the money. I prayed and about 10 min. after I said a prayer my boss called, offering me the weekend off. I felt that was an answer so I took it but I don't think she was very happy about it. I understand. It's not her job to care about my problems, it's a business. I get that. I don't think I'll be fired, I'm not really worried about that right now but I have no money coming in. I've been able to pay some bills but not all. And I do feel relieved that I am here for my dad. When I made the decision to take off work to be with my dad all my anxiety went away (although it's back now).

I had planned on being with my dad all day today, like the past week, but when I woke up the thought of spending 6-8 hours in that nursing home made me sick. I've had bile in my throat all day. I've been crying because I can't seem to be able to get up and get going. I took off work to be with my dad. It's costing me money to just sit here and cry and I can't do it now? What is that???

We've been on 'high alert' for a week now. Seven days ago today my dad's status changed and it's all I've thought about or talked about. I've rearranged my entie life around to be with him through this and yet I'm so depressed today I don't want to leave my house? I didn't see this coming. I feel like I've hit a wall.

I called the NH to check on him and he's the same, no change. He's in and out of this weird sleep, he's very confused, hallucinating, saying nonsensical things. He told my brother the other day that he was afraid that I was becoming a flower child! lol We have no idea where that came from!

I don't think today is going to be the day but I guess no one knows for sure. I think I've been on edge for a week now. Not sleeping well. Worrying every waking minute. Writing an obituary. Deciding on funeral arrangements. And I'm not a big crier but today I'm crying. I'm afraid that if I don't spend every spare minute I have with my dad that he's going to lapse into a coma and the man I've known as my father will be lost forever. Although who he is now is a far cry from who he was even 6 months ago.

And I'm afraid that taking off work was the wrong decision. My job may not let me work my 3 shifts next weekend if my dad is still alive. How will we live? I thought I was making the right decision at the time but now I don't know. We won't be homeless. The rent is the first thing I pay and that's already done.

I guess I don't know what the right thing is anymore. We're in this limbo with my dad and it's like torture. Part of me wants him to pass away so we can get on with our lives and start grieving but the other part wants to hang onto him for dear life and postpone the pain his death will cause.

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Eyerishlass - I think your mind will be more at rest if you can just say -my decision is made and I will let it go and stick to my decision-either way. I mean, of course be mend able if things change but if you need to work then go to work and focus on the job and if you want to take time off take time off and focus on you and your Dad's needs. Neither chose is a good chose. They both suck! Sometimes that is the case and trying to figure out how to win in a losing situation is just beating yourself up for nothing. There is some freedom to this thinking. Because you are hurting so bad now trying to be in two places at once and with the knowledge that that is impossible maybe you can get some peace about it.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your Dad.
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@tangleweed - yes, I do realize that. I was just reiterating ("I also hope...") what capnhardass stated in the post just prior to mine: "...hope you take a short fmla..."
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Dear Yaya51,

Actually, that was me who discussed FMLA in my lengthy post to Eyerish,not Capnhardass. Just sayin...
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It's harsh but I think it's true. Doesn't mean I like it either but I don't work in a mom and pop business. I've only been with this company for a little over 2 months. They don't really owe me anything. They've been compassionate, asked me about my dad, talked to me about our hospice....But yeah, it's business. And in 2 months I'm still trying to prove myself and build a reputation.

I totally get where you're coming from. I've had some amazing jobs with incredible people but it's too early for me to tell yet if this is one of those.
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" business is business ? "
i call bs. business used to be about the long haul. getting good employees and keeping them. the current business model is about exploiting, understaffing, and profitteering. sorry for the outburst, its a sore subject with me..
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Thank you all for your kind words and thoughtful support. I was looking for and needing support and I got it.

My bills are very simple and thank goodness I don't have much debt. I paid the bills I could according to priority and will hope for the best.

I'm not sure I can take the FMLA. To begin with, I only started working for this agency a little over 2 months ago. I'm a home healthcare nurse. There are no vacation days, no sick time. Our company doesn't offer them. When my dad went into the nursing home I had to go back to work immediately as my entire living situation changed. If I am in the middle of a 12-hour shift and have to leave for some reason (sickness, family emergency....) I have to call my boss and she has to call around and find a replacement. I am not to leave my patient alone under any circumstances. Getting a replacement can take hours. This is why I was hesitant to fulfill my shift obligations this weekend. What if my dad died and I was stuck with a patient for hours and hours? Would I be able to work under those circumstances? And because my boss is aware of the situation with my dad she encouraged me to give up my weekend shifts (I work 3 12-hour shifts each weekend) so she wouldn't get stuck having to find a replacement for me at, say, 7am on a Saturday. My bosses have been decent to me but like I said, I understand that business is business and they're not in the business to care about my family situation. We have patients that need us and when we can't work a shift it not only creates more work for the agency but the patient's routine is thrown off by having someone else work the shift.

Having said all of that, I am seeing the downside of home healthcare and agree with what capnhardass said. I didn't anticipate any of this when I took this job and I'm afraid that until my dad passes away I may not have a choice of whether I work or not. My shifts may be taken away because I cannot guarantee that I will be able to 1.) show up or 2.) stay the whole shift. If my dad passes away I will need to leave work. I think I made a bad decision when I chose my dad over my job. I wasn't thinking clearly and that may cost me (it's certainly costing me money). But my boss may be right if she continues to replace me. I can't promise that my dad won't die on my shift and I think I've given my boss a big enough headache already. And because I've taken this time off and my dad has yet to pass away, when he does die I won't be able to take more than a couple of days off and that will be a shame. I have visions of going to his funeral and doing all of that on a Thurs. and going back to work for my weekend shifts on a Fri.

There's nothing I can do about it now. I chose to be with my dad rather than work my weekend shifts and that was a bad, impulsive decision. I just hope I can fix it with my boss on Monday. I was trying to do the right thing and for years and years I have put my dad first. His needs always came first and it seemed that since he's dying putting him first was a no-brainer but my life has changed since I was his caregiver. I have a job now. A life. Obligations. I guess I was still operating in caregiver mode or something. My brother has sick days and vacation days at his job and he's saving them up but I felt that someone needed to be with dad as much as possible right now. I think guilt played in part in my decision to be with him instead of going to work. I have so much guilt. Guilt for him being in a nursing home and then trying to make up for that guilt by making sure he didn't have to be alone in the state that he's in. Of course I can't ramble on to my boss about my guilt but I can admit it to myself and admit it here. And life does indeed have to go on. That doesn't mean that I'll stop by my father's funeral on a lunch break but this is the real world and things aren't perfect and sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do. But dying father or no dying father I have to prioritize and putting food on the table has to come before sitting at my dad's bedside day after day. It sucks. It's not what I'd prefer but it's life.

This is such a lovely website. I had another caregiving website that I used to go to but it was infested with spam and was finally shut down. I've told some folks I knew from there about this site. I think the members here are wonderful and I enjoy the articles and the support that's so freely given. I lurked here for about a month before I got up the courage to participate and I'm so glad to be here. Thank you all so much.
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My heart goes out to you! I am so sure your dad knows you love him. my prayers are with you.......may you find peace.
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Dear Eyerishlass - I'm fairly new to this forum and I don't believe we've ever communicated, but I read your post and my heart is aching for you. You're in a place right now where many of us here know we're inevitably headed, and though I can only speak for myself it's impossible not to empathize. I just wanted to echo what has already been said with such eloquence...well, except for capnhardass but what he might lack in "eloquence" he makes up for in spades with honest humor and genuine compassion. In pursuant to his last post I also hope you take advantage of FMLA, and with regard to creditors...some (not all maybe, but some) may be willing to work with you if you call and explain your circumstances - at the very least they should waive any late fees. Like cap'n said, in this economy they're more willing to be accommodating.
Best wishes, gentle lass. I am keeping you and your dad in my prayers.
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creditors; ( saps )
for 11 years my truck and business liability insurer required full payment for the entire year. the last 2-3 years i could walk in there with a 10 dollar bill and they will take it with a smile. what they want and what they get are far apart in this economy. hope you take a short fmla and spend the time finding better employment eyerish..
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My heart goes out to you. Watching and caring for my beloved father as he was actively dying in the final days of his battle with Lung Cancer exacerbated by Insulin-dependent Diabetes, having to give him the morphine that the Hospice nurse has left for me, dealt such a crushing blow to me in every way imaginable: bio/psych/social. I had to take a FMLA (Family Medical Leave of Absence) in order to care for Dad - in addition to my blind, elderly mother and my only sibling - a mentally handicapped sister. As the only one who could care for all three, it was impossible for me to survive my demanding job as a teacher (in a school for highly "at risk" students, under a principal who was extremely hostile and lacked any compassion). I'm so grateful that I did take the FMLA, despite the financial impact it had for my husband and me. I was able to be with my father. You didn't state what kind of job you have, but in rereading your post, it sounds like you work for a healthcare facility? You should be covered by FMLA for up to 3 months to be with a parent who is critically ill and/or dying. By law, your employers are obliged to hold your position for you. Please investigate this as soon as possible. Your employers certainly are aware of this legal right.
Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you have the option of being that person, and you can spend some significant time with your mother without fear of losing your job while you're away from it.

The Specifics
Signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, the FMLA allows eligible American workers to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

To take care of an immediate family member -- specifically, a parent, spouse or child -- who has a serious health condition.
To take care of yourself if you have a serious health condition of your own.
To take care of your newborn baby in the weeks after the child is born.
To take care of a child you've adopted in the weeks after the child arrives in your midst.

When you take a leave under the FMLA, you can do so knowing that the law requires your employer to assign you to your old job when you return or, at the very least, to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment, according to the US Department of Labor (DOL). Your employer is also required to maintain group health insurance coverage for you, assuming you had such coverage before your leave.

Best wishes to you during this difficult time.
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