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My grandma Came home to be on hospice 3 weeks ago, she was pretty much unresponsive, not eating or drinking. She did start eating a little ice cream and water. We prayed she would make it to Christmas and she did she even came back mentally on Christmas Day, here we are the 2nd I love her and don't want her to go but what kind of life is this. She still drinks a little water. How long can someone last like this?

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It is possible that some keep hanging on because their family keeps hanging on them.
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1teach, it is strange to think of life this way. The life force is strongly attached to the body. Even though the person may be ready to die, their body is still trying to preserve itself by hanging onto that life force. It won't be until the will of the person and body are the same that someone can pass peacefully. I do hope she passes peacefully.
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I know this is 100% true. My grandmother (raised me and I call her meme) kept hanging on, hanging on and it was just devastating. Every night I would sit and talk to her and say "I'll be back to see you tomorrow"...the last day I went I held her hand and thanked her for what a wonderful woman she was and how greatful I was to have her. I apologized for my wrong doings and told her she didn't have to worry about me or my children, that we were going to make it just fine. Instead of saying "I will see you tomorrow" like I had everyday for at least two weeks now, I simply said "thank you for everything meme, I love you, and try not to worry about us, we'll be fine"
They called around 2am to say she had passed but I knew before the call. She had just been waiting to make sure I would be ok. I felt a relief come over me...i knew she wasn't worried or in pain anymore. She heard what she needed to hear and I felt relief and calmness come over me. It's like we were both finally at peace.
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I also wonder what my mom is holding on to. She has beaten all the odds and keeps on ticking. She will decline to the point where we thought she was going this weekend and then she's perked up. It is emotionally exhausting. I have told her I will be okay, that she taught me well. I have told her i loved her and thanked her for choosing me and being my mom (my brothers and I are adopted). Something keeps her from wanting to die. She even thought that she was going to be gone this weekend and thanked me for being her daughter and how much she loved me. Not sure why or how some people hang on for so long suffering so much.
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Who knows for it is different with everyone. I think some elderly hold on for they are hoping something will change in their family for the good and then they feel like they can die in peace, but that's not true of all.
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It can be hard to know why people keep hanging on. It may actually be that they know their time is not yet up. It's hard telling.
The only other thing I can really think of is that maybe some of them don't want to die in front of anyone because maybe some of them just want to be alone when it happens. Some people who witness death can actually become overwhelmed to the point they just can't handle it. Death has a strong tendency to really traumatize people in ways that only those who have experienced certain types of trauma can really understand. I've known several undertakers in my life. When you know and are friends with an undertaker, the best you can give them is to do your homework and study about what they go through. Until you really get to know and love an undertaker personally, it's really hard to know not only what they go through, but also what people at the end of life or trying to spare the living. It may very well be that people in final life stages are probably trying to protect others from the stress of their dying. Death is really not a pretty picture for those who are witnessing it or even going through it. Furthermore, death is really not the end because life goes on in the spirit realm. It's the physical death that's so hard for people to accept. Death is something we will all face someday like it or not. When we're young it's easy to think we'll live forever and never die. It's not until we age that we slowly start realizing we're just living in a fantasy by thinking that death will never happen to us. It's not until we start realizing that death is eminent and that we start thinking of our own mortalities and planning for them. When we recognize that death is coming, we may aim to protect those around us from the pain and heartache of our physical death. We may not want others to have to witness a death so we may wait until they've all left the room in order to let go. There have been stories of this very thing happening. Isn't it funny how some people will not pass while anyone is around but they will pass when everyone has left the room? Though not true in every case, it is true in some.

* If you find that your elder keeps hanging on, try to find out why. In some cases they may want to just tie up loose ends. Some of those loose ends may be asking for forgiveness, dealing with regret, or maybe they just want to see specific people one last time. For instance, many years ago I was suddenly visited out of the clear blue by someone I used to know. I really didn't think much of it, and we even went to a local drive in restaurant and we had a snack. We visited for a while and this happened at least a few times before I didn't see him anymore. It wasn't until years later that I learned that he died shortly after our last visit. I think this person wanted to see me during the little time he had left because his family was badly broken and I was probably one of the very few people outside his family who wasn't. I'm sure there was some reason why my friend wanted to see me as much as possible in the time he had left. Perhaps he knew his end was near because they say a dying person knows. It's very hard to know why the person is hanging on until you happen to find out why they're hanging on. It could be any number of reasons why they're hanging on, we just don't know until we either discover it or it's revealed to us. I even read an article years ago that if you want someone to let go, just stop visiting them. When I read that article I thought it was cruel to just not visiting someone we absolutely love. It may be that the author of that article was cruel, calloused and coldhearted when they wrote that article. I believe that our dying love the ones deserve the comforts of those they love as well as other things around them that they find comforting, because after all it is the end of their life and it's their death they must face.
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I know that each case is individually and uniquely different. Anytime someone is dying that's when they need their loved ones the most, even if it's just for support. Sometimes all they need to hear is that they are loved and forgiven and that it's OK to go. Another thing that I often need to hear is that those people they love will be OK they go. Sometimes that's really all it takes.
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It seems that some can hang on and rally for many months. I'm been struggling myself with the ups and downs of the rally's and have wondered what she could be holding on for. Her kids and some of her grandkids had a chance to say goodbye, thank you and spread lots of love. The last two visits with my mom have been her grabbing for my hand, hugging me so hard, wanting to have me almost get in bed with her and kiss me, smooth my hair. It's precious for me, but I now believe she does not want to leave because she loves her kids so much. She doesn't want to leave us. It breaks my heart and I'm trying to figure out how to help her with letting go of us...which on one hand I hate! I don't want her to. But, I don't want her to suffer and be in pain any longer.
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Yes, I have a lot of family members die and can tell you that they do hold on, even down to a specific visiting hour at a hospital or a special day. No-one knows why this is, perhaps survival response, or that they want to say goodbye, or are even scared of letting go of this life?. But how much is down to the drugs they give them? We've got a 90 year old who is in 'god's waiting room', with dementia its like the lights are on but there's nobody home. Not a life I'd like. Seems these drugs keep her physically going but that human spark has gone. So I can't fathom what the draw is, if you have no memory or identity then surely that connection should go.
Then there was our father and brother who (due to health) didn't want to be here anymore, so they went willingly. My mum, always believing in an afterlife went quickly and quietly accepting all that would follow. So perhaps it is outlook? Although my friends dad was a Catholic and he had a terrible death, (think he didn't have enough drugs so battled it at the end, or was it because he thought he'd go to hell? Who knows what goes on in the mind of a dying person. But it's a journey we all have to make, so the more mentally prepared we ware for it the better.

Check out this, its a great documentary about all aspects of death and dying. wirelesstheatrecompany.co.uk/product/life-at-deaths-door/hello-there-3/
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In my grandmother's case - i think she had unfinished business - she wanted my mom and aunt to reconcile. When she was in hospice and her four children around her bed - they all exchanged love and good byes - less than two hours later she was gone. I think in some cases you have to tell them you love them and assure them that you all will be OK. I think it is a kindness to let them know that they are loved, have done all they need to do, and now they can rest.
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