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My mom, who has terminal lung cancer with Metastasis to the brain, and has been on hospice since February, cannot accept that she is dying. She can no longer walk and barely move her limbs, she has a lot of trouble breathing and is on oxygen. She is visibly declining rapidly. Yet she insists she can walk if we get her help, and that she is fine. She is fighting it every step of the way and dragging out her suffering. This is heartbreaking to me. Is this how everyone is when they approach death?

No, everyone is different. I am 78 and in good health and OH SO READY. We all feel different about this. Some fight to the end. Admire her fighting spirit them. As a nurse I know that the one thing you NEVER NEVER take from a patient is hope. If she hopes to live do not insist to her that she cannot/that she will not. She doesn't want to go gently into that good night. She wants to fight. Admire her for it, encourage her, tell her she is doing great. There may come a time she tells you she is tired and she is ready. And there MAY NOT. This is our last decision, and one that should be all ours. We can hope to the end that there will be some miracle; or we can accept and ask for the good drugs. Let it be her decision no matter it is hard for her. Do not ever tell her to "go to the light". I know a friend whose bro died of AIDS in her arms. A nurse she had nursed him through to the last seconds, and when she told him "You can leave, Nick. Move to the light" he looked up at her with wild eyes and she told me she knew she had told him the wrong thing--for HIM--to hear. He looked at her like "What the H....? Am I DYING?????" and he was panicked.
Leave it to her. Let her do it her way.
And the very best for you. You are there for her in this passage; that is all you can do.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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7again Aug 9, 2020
Thanks for writing this. I am bothered by the advice that recommends giving "permission" to one's loved ones to go ahead and die. As someone who has been in position of being the one in the bed (one of my surgeons told me later that I couldn't have been any closer to death without actually dying!), I disagree with that thinking.
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As I see it, to die is a very personal event and everyone has a right to die in their own way. I personally admire your mother. Accept that you are dying--why? What would you hope to gain for her by her acceptance. Should she be depressed, wailing, sitting and waiting to die? Let her be. Rejoice in her will to live. Don't subject your idea of dying onto her. You can die 'your' way when your time comes.
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Reply to MissMay
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Hello. Peace to you and your mom. I was a hospice family visitor volunteer for many years and if this is available & you have not yet taken advantage I highly recommend it. A family visitor will stay with your mom so you can have a break. They are well trained. I found over the years that my patients loved to talk about their life story, family and most would talk about dying and death. They told me they couldn’t talk to family about dying because it was too hard &/or they didn’t want to upset them. They appreciated having a 3rd party to talk to
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Reply to Shelbyloren
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My best friend had stage 4 breast cancer & she was in total denial the whole time (except, I think this changed in her last couple of days, though she never came right out & said so). My friend had always been 110% hard core realist, so this was really hard to deal with. I was her primary caregiver & I decided to "let it be." I decided that it was not up to me to put anything in her face, as she was the one who was going through this. I've never regretted that decision.
My very best to you.
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Reply to Denny7
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Hard for who? Let her be in her last moments. What greater gift can a child give?
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Reply to SusanMP
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Juse let her think what she wants. Positive thinking is good.
Just show her love and make her as comfortable as you can and pray with her and for her.

It really doesn't help anyone especially your mom to keep telling her she's dieing.

As a dieing person, your mom should be able to do whatever she wants whenever she wants.

Let her know she's safe and loved and she'll be kept as comfortable as possible while she isn't feeling well.

If she doesn't want to hear tge die talk so what.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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Take her outside for walks in a wheelchair. Look thru photo albums. Read to her. Music is soothing. Find something for her to do with her hands, laying in bed 24/7 is unbearable. Cancer in the brain I imagine could be part of why she is restless so try to be patient. Take time for yourself. You are important!
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Reply to Shelbyloren
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What an admirable spirit she has. Support her all the way with it. We’re all dying just at different stages of the journey.
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Reply to SusanMP
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It sounds as though she feels one way about her condition and you feel completely differently.

If she isn’t doing a (or thinking) anything dangerous or unsafe, she really does sound like a feisty gal who want to “do it her way”.

Maybe you can feel a little less heartbroken if you try to realize how brave she is by choosing to fight what’s happening to her. If her doctors agree with her thoughts, it’s OK for you to agree with her agenda too.
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Reply to AnnReid
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It isn't how everyone dying approaches death, rather, many do want to continue to live and fight and keep optimistic attitudes in spite of what seems to be suffering in your view. It is much more common that family watching and attending, like you, think it is suffering and say upsetting things to the dying - like talking about death. My recommendation is don't talk about or imply death, with things like its OK to go etc...these are contrary to what your mom is thinking, doing, or wants to hear, so don't do it. Don't tell her that you are suffering watching her either. Try to act as normal, and supportive as possible, to the end. There are some great responses already in that regard.
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Reply to amoeba
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