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My mother is pretty stable right now though she has a number of serious things wrong. She still is living independently (barely) with some hired help. She's had multiple TIA's and walking is difficult though her recent round of physical therapy has helped a lot. She is supposed to be using a walker but instead uses her cane most of the time - no one can stop her. The last TIA scared her enough that she finally made out a will and DPOA (unfortunately only kicks in if declared incapacitated). Ever since then when I talk to her she drops these comments in out of left field about how she might not live that long or IF she lives that long etc. I'm not sure how to respond to this. Given her medical risk factors (stroke and heart) it is possible she could die tomorrow which is a hard truth I've been living with for some time, but I think she is only beginning to realize. But it's also possible she could continue to live many years as well. I feel like she's bringing up her impending death too as a form of manipulation toward me also - for more attention or worry from me. How best should I handle this???

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Death is not always an easy topic to address with anyone. BUT sounds like Mom has opened the door and it is time to take a step into the subject. At this point I would not get "hung up" on whether Mom is trying to manipulate your, but take her hints as serious and really begin the discussion. I know from pesonal experience it is hard to know when to really talk with a parent or loved one about death--my father never wanted to talk about it so he died without a will and that caused a lot of problems and hard feelings. I only wished that we could have had that discussion when he was alive, even though I know it would have been so very emotional. SO take the time to talk with Mom and find out her feelings or her fears about dying. Many elderly people tell me the only thing they fear about death is that don't want to be alone. Let her tell you her thoughts and this is the best time to really listen to Mom and try not to judge. Sometimes, these kinds of conversation can be so revealing about one's feelings, especially for you. Take the risk and begin that dialogue. You both deserve to share in the moment!!!
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none of us have the guarantee of another dam day. theres the best diffusing argument i can think of.
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"Mom, I guess you could be gone by then. I guess I could. None of us knows how long we have. But we are working on giving you every chance for good health. So let's plan that we both will be here for that event."

Maybe the comments indicate she would like to talk about dying. Give her an opening.

"Mom, what do you think happens to us after we die?"

"Mom, sometimes when I think about dying I'm OK with it, and sometimes I'm scared. How about you?"

"Have you ever thought about what kind of funeral you'd like?"
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I think most people who are close to death have some knowledge that the end is close. Your mom sounds as though she has a way to go. Although the questions appear to come from left field I don't believe they do and at times are downright manipulative and designed to hurt as seemeride said "You will miss me when I am gone or as my mother was fond of saying "Your'll be sorry when I am gone" well I wasn't but that's another story. I think the most important thing is to be honest and give simple answers. Say mom says. "Am I dying?" The answer is either "No you are very sick now (With............) but the doctor thinks you will pull through" "Or as gently as possible" Yes I am sorry they say the cancer has spread to your liver and you don't have very long" And follow up asking if there is any one she wants to see or something she wants to do and plan how you can achieve that. One patient wanted to see her grand daughter in a play. Well she was too ill to attend but the little girl came to the house in her costume and someone videod it to share with grandma. Another man wanted to go snowmobiling one last time. The family got him dressed and outside and he managed one circle of the yard. Another elderly lady was waiting for a greatgrand child to be born but when she realized she wouldn't see him a call was made and she spoke to the babies mama. There was not a dry eye as she said goodbye to her grand daughter and said" I am sorry I'll never see the little feller" There are no set rules you just have to say what is in your heart but do not lie.
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No shes not doing this for attention shes genuinely scared what I do is laugh it off! My mum keeps saying "id be better off dead" I remind her of my best friend who was killed at 17yrs old. I just say arnt you lucky to have made it this far she always replies "yes im as lucky as a black cat" then she forgets about it. My mum is becoming more morbid but who can blame them getting old is the pits anyway but if youre ill and old then its worse just try and change the subject even a joke? "If you worry you die and youre going to die anyway so why worry" makes sense my brothers classic saying!
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My mom would always say, "You are going to miss me when I'm gone" and I would always ask, "Where are you going?" The only time I was concerned was the last day she was in my house when she said, "This is the beginning of the end". It was. She was dead 8 days later. I think someone with a long term lingering illness can realize changes in their bodies.
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It sounds like she is coming to the realization that death is not far off and she is reaching out for some comfort in this area. I don't know how your relationship is with your mom (good or difficult) but I think she needs to put her fears and finial thoughts out there, all cards on the table. When my sister was losing the battle to cancer we would talk openly with one another on this topic, it made her feel at ease and in a strange weird way it did me as well. Next time she brings it up just ask her if she would like to talk. It is a very hard thing to talk about as it is not a comfort zone by any means, but I feel is necessary. Hugs and peace be with you both.
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Sounds like either way you'll win by treating the topic seriously.
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I had a counselor tell me that saying what you are thinking is good. Example: I don't know how to say this. I feel _____ just thinking or talking about this. I'm not sure if I should bring this up but it is on my mind. I wonder what you are thinking and feeling. It's hard for me to start talking about this. It hurts when I think about talking about this. I don't want to hurt you if I talk about this. I'm not sure what to say.
Just letting the other person know all the confusion and pain you are feeling. When your mom says something that you are unsure of you could say what you are thinking at that moment.
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When my Mom first began to bring up death, we would say to her, "Oh Mom that is not going to happen for a very long time! Remember Aunt ---, she lived to be over 100!" or "Mom we will all pass away when God is ready for us to go" or "None of us have a guarantee of tomorrow Mom, but we can enjoy today."

We tried not to dwell on the subject but we did address it. We also asked her if she had any thoughts about her funeral and what she would like to have. She told us that she wanted a grave site funeral verses being in the church the rest of her family had their funerals in. I think that is a matter of cost however.

Anymore when she gets mad she will yell, "I will be so glad when I am dead and out of here!" We just say to her "Well Mom that may be true but for right now, we need to hop in the shower and get a bath!"

I would say that if you think you really want to have a discussion on what your Mom may want as far as a service when she does pass away, I would approached the subject and just say "Mom, this is a difficult conversation for me to have with you, but can I ask you what you would like to have us do for you when you pass away.?" Just be gentle and not rush into it headlong and upset her. If she says she doesn't want to talk about it, then back off and say, "Okay Mom that's alright, I understand this is not an easy conversation for either one of us."
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