What do you say to parent who often speaks of death?

Follow
Share

My aunt died 6 months ago leaving my mom as last surviving elder in the family. she is almost 89. All of her friends are dead. She constantly talks about her death. She says she's preparing me. I remind her that she is in good health. What else do I say?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
14

Answers

Show:
My mother and I throughout our lives---never got along--except for one subject---death and the next life. We viewed it as an exciting journey---one that can not be accompanied by loved ones. The aging and those who are about to die that I have known seem to at their time --take this view as well. It's a positive thing in any situation dealing with the loved one who is passing---to let them talk---trying to "shut them up" to comfort our own pain---is not help to the one going through the process of leaving this earth. My Mother talks about it as an exciting journey where she'll be free of pain of age---and reunited with her "unckie Frank" and others she has known and loved here. Let your loved one have their say-----It's their time--not yours.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Dying by inches. What an apt phrase! What a horrid thought...

And yet that is where many of us find ourselves...watching and waiting as someone we love is dying by inches.

Another inch of my mom died a little over a month ago (meaning, more or less, a small stepped decline in her overall condition). We've adjusted remarkably well in all the physical ways and I'm doing great in the emotional and mental department. Which is good, because my mom's been having trouble with the emotional part, herself.

She often cries seemingly for no reason and every time she's asked, she says nothing is wrong. So often I then ask her not to cry and she'll say "I can't help it." Well, I can accept that...when I am very fatigued, exhausted, I tend to cry for negligible reasons.

But then yesterday, I suddenly thought to ask her if she was scared of dying...if she was crying because of death being closer and closer to her as time goes on. She's never been one to talk of that stuff too much, at least not in my younger years, but I know her very well and I know how her mind works. And she said yes, that she was. And a little scared but also she just isn't ready to die. But that may be a way she masks her fear for herself to deal with it...

So we talked about it and I even told her about the NDERF website where I've read uncounted testimonies from people who have gotten a glimpse and a feeling of what lies 'beyond.' She was still crying and didn't really want to believe me but we talked for a while and I comforted her by reiterating that all pain stops the moment things change (death) and that it is just PURE LOVE on the other side...

So I left her alone for a while and when I came back to her room, she was calmer and not crying. She had been quite worked up so that was amazing, considering her temperament. And today she has not cried or been crotchety or extra needy, either.

I'm glad now that we talked about it.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

Livinghome, your mom is 89!!!!! Everyone she knows is DEAD! Of course she's thinking about death. Of course she may seem a little obsessed with it. Count your blessings that she is still in pretty good health. But this has nothing to do with you. Is she maudlin about this? Is she nasty or use her death as a weapon to manipulate you? Or is she just trying to prepare you - and herself.

My mom is 90. All of her sibs are dead. All of her friends are dead. When she is awake she sits and read the bible. She told me she's studying for her finals. (I know, it's an old joke, but she thinks it's funny.) Occasionally she says she just wants to take an overdose of her meds and get things over with. When she said that the first time, we took her meds away and now we administer them (my sisters and I take turns caring for her.) She's tired. She's in some discomfort. It hurts to walk. She can't get knee replacements because she waited too long and now the doc said she's too old. She's ready. It's just that her body isn't quite ready yet.

I know that the longevity of your parents has a lot to do with your own projected life span. If that's the case, I will likely live well into my 90's. I made up my mind a long time ago that I do NOT want to just wall myself up in my house and sit in front of the TV and die by inches. I don't blame my mother for not wanting that either.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Those of you with parents who talk about their death are very fortunate. My 88 year old Mother and three siblings refuse to discuss anything like this. Mother has been in and out of the hospital all year, sometimes in very bad shape, however; the four of them are in total denial. It is like there is this huge elephant in the room anytime we are together and I am the only one who sees it.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

One thing that has helped me personally is to turn it around and say, "okay, I have your arrangements/wishes written down...now let me tell you what I want if I go before you" and then proceed to tell your mom how you want your funeral, plans, things she will need to know.
Bring up any friends or family members that you know who outlived their children. Ask your mom who is the next person in line to take over things for her if you should die.
Trust me, it takes them off guard so much they then do not bring it up again for quite a while.
My Grandma swore she would not make it pas 50. She missed it shy of 41 years and died at 91. Shewould do this to my dad, "where will I be burried, which husband should I be burried next to, what should my footstone say." Dad, who was terminally ill finally got sick of it and said, "you know the next trip I make home will be in a box myself." She outlived dad by 3 years.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

My mom is one of those who often talks about death as a weapon or for dramatic effect when she's upset. Saying what's the point to living. She says "I want to die." I've been trained to take any statement like that seriously but I temper that with the fact that she's been saying stuff like that for as long as I can remember. I remember her saying things like that when I was a kid. Once I said "OK". Then she got really hurt that I would say something like that. I pointed out that I was just agreeing with her. She would have none of it and disavowed me as her child. Which she tends to do everytime she gets upset.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

I would listen to some of it, but then offer to get a chaplain for her to talk to.

Assure her that you will miss her, but that you'll be all right.

Then take her out for a slushy.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

So much depends on the context of the talk about death. If the talk is serious, the others have given good advice on how to handle it. However, sometimes talk of death can be used as a weapon or for dramatic effect. When my father used to get mad at my mother in his final years, he would tell her that every night he prayed the Lord would take him in his sleep. He was a very passive man, so it was his way of bringing her fussing at him to an end. I don't know if he really did pray for death each night, but when he said this to my mother, he was using it as a weapon to make her be quiet.

My mother sometimes speaks of death for the dramatic effect. She'll say something like, "I'm going to die soon, so you better get ready for it," or something to that effect. I simply ask her if it is going to be today. She says no and I tell her, well, then, we can worry about it later. That works without feeding into the drama.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

I like jeannegibbs answer.
There comes a point in one's life, if one lives long enough, that death is inevitably taking a focal point in the mind. It's natural and I think it is a good thing because death is an integral part of life, and as odd as it may sound, a new experience each time when go through it.
The unnatural avoidance that the American culture exhibits toward death is unhealthy and it sometimes makes us think that talking about death is the odd thing. I think it is odd NOT to talk of it, at least once in a while.

I think more so that your mom is preparing HERself, however, not you. If that be the case, then why not just let her talk of it constantly until she's talked it all out or else had her fill of it? Obviously she's trying to work something out within her, and often that process requires a certain degree of externalization (sounding off or venting).
If you try to get her to NOT talk of it, it will only compel her more intensely TO talk about it, if that be the case. If she NEEDS to talk about it, then I say let her talk of it all she wants and I think it will eventually cease to be her favorite topic of conversation. If it isn't impeded, it will end on its own when the inner issues are worked out for her. If it is impeded or stifled, it will just grow bigger and perhaps even morph or mutate into a more unpleasant topic...and it will then require even more 'venting.'

Best to let her verbalize it to the full extent of her need/desire so that she has the chance to do what she needs to do before she does actually die. You probably don't have to even contribute more than a um-hum or something like that now and then, just to let her know you ARE listening (even if you aren't! and you know you don't have to listen even though you should let her talk).
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

I worked in a factory for a few years and we usedta request that someone take us out back and blow our brains out. when my cousin who worked there blew his brains out we never used the phrase again. we had no idea that cuz was so succeptable to thought insertion.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.