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Readers Respond: What Did You Experience During the Dying Process of a Loved One?

Responses: 164

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Updated April 07, 2010

The hardest thing I have ever had to do

My Stepdad died yesterday morning. He went through pretty much everything you describe here. He tried to get up and walk a few times and he asked for bites of his favorite foods. Other than that he didn't eat or drink much. I let my mom sleep the night before last and stayed up with him all night. All night i heard that death rattle and it was horrifying because I didn't know what it was. I thought he was drowning in the fluid in his lungs. I did talk to him and held his hand and told him how much I loved him. He was unresponsive but I'm glad to know that he probably heard me. My mom woke up and he smiled when he heard her feeding the dogs (he loved his dogs). Again, we didn't know what that gurgling was and were very upset by it and called Hospice a few times to see what we could do. The nurse finally came and she told us that he was "actively dying" and told us that we needed tell him it was o.k. to go. So we did and he passed with all of us telling him we love him.
—Guest Monica

A life gradually leaving

My 102 year old mother passed away last March, 2009. I wanted to search this site to relieve my mind about her not eating or drinking the last 25 days of her life. She went through those phases--gradually becoming less aware of her surroundings. Hospice was wonderful to her, bring pain medication regularly. The doctor explained her death was like a battery finally dying. We always joked that she was the Engergizer Bunny. That's how she died--just winding down. She was basically healthy until she died--no cancer, no stroke, heart attack, nothing. It was tough to see her just lying there for 23 days with just small amounts of water, turning into a skeletal shadow of her vibrant self. What a wonderful woman. I miss her terribly.
—patgarlinghouse

I was lucky (if you can call it that)

My grandfather just passed on 11/15/09 after a two year battle with Esophageal cancer during which he remained extremely active. The cancer had spread into his pelvis, spine, and a little in his lungs. His last three weeks were complicated by pain medication, dehydration, and lack of food. He only ate/drank about 1500 calories during this time. 10 days before his death he was up around and driving. 7 days before his death he had his last radiation treatment which gave him a partial bowel obstruction that passed naturally the next day. This is when he made the turn. We didn't see the long months/weeks of process described. He was an extremely strong willed man who chose to end the battle on his own terms. We took him home on the 13th expecting to nurse him through the holidays. That night he was up all night and very difficult. By noon on the 14th he gave little response. On the 15th, rattled breathing began about 6pm and he passed at 10pm. I'm thankful for the ease.
—Guest JTC

Not what I hoped for

I spent the day at my parents house to help with my fathers impending death from cancer. Many of the typical signs were present as expected. What I wasn't ready for was the outbursts of rage from my loving father who never raised a hand to his family. The hospice nurse said it was not uncommon, most likely a result of extreme anxiety and was given medication for it. He was then able to rest again and that is when I departed for the evening. I pray the end comes swift for him. It is a truly agonizing experience for my family. I know his actions are not his own and wish it could be a more peaceful journey. How I would love to sit at his bedside and hold his hand. I only hope that everyone who posts after me has a much more positive experience. I love you Dad. You will be sorely missed. 11-22-09
—Guest Dan

My Brother In Law

My brother in law was diagnosed with lung cancer in June of 2007. He was put on Hopsice by late August of 2007. I went home to Al every weekend to see him as we were very close. On October 7th something told me I should not leave but stay in Alabama, he died the next morning at about 12:10am. I am glad that my sister and I was right by he side to talk him through the process. The best memory I have is when he reached out his hand to hold an invisible hand that I know was an Angel or my savior coming to carry him home. I love you my sweet Benny and think of you often. Please pray for my family as we are now going through the same process with my father who I expect will pass on in the next couple of weeks. I too hate cancer.
—Guest Molly Ostrowski

huuby passed from brain cancer

The day my husband John passed ,I went to the hospital an hour early,he was still on a reg ward as the doctors figured he still had a few months to live.As I walked down the hall I could hear him yelling "help me please help me. I walked into his room.I asked him if he was in pain.He said "I am dying".he told me he loved me and asked if we could say a prayer,which I did .I said The Lord's prayer, blessed him and he said Amen. Then he told me to take the sheets off him and his gown off. As soon as I did I realized he was dying ,as his body was all mottled. I ran for his nurse who told me he was not dying as the doctor had just seen him and they had given him Morphine. I told him to come look at him.as soon as he saw John he knew he really was dying. He died very peaceful about 15 minutes later. I feel truly blessed that he did know and we could talk and kiss goodbye. Thank you , Cedargranny
—cedargranny

My brother-in-law is dying right now

My sister called me when the death rattle started. I just left their home after spending the last 6 hours sitting with him. He was making horrible groaning & moaning sounds along with the rattle and having a very hard time breathing. He is dying of prostate cancer. The agonizing ordeal went on the entire 6 hours until the hospice aid finally injected him with relaxers. When I left, his breathing was easier, but the rattle was still there. He has been asleep for 16 hours now and cannot be awakened. I don't know how long this will go on, but it is tearing my sister to shreds. It is horrible and agonizing - nothing like what the rest of the people here have reported. There is no peace - just turmoil and agony. It is awful. Just yesterday he was up talking & walking. His death is not text book, that's for sure. It is pure torture for everyone close to him. I hope I never have to witness anything like this ever again.
—Guest Denise

The Toughest Memory...

My Dad died of cancer back in 1996. Hospice was wonderful and I still can't thank them enough. He truly loved that nurse that came over to care for him. The toughest memory is still the night when his liver shut down. He became jaundice and during the course of the night, he took several weeks of drugs due to his pain. When I arrived (I lived next door at the time he insisted on living alone), he was very confused. I called my brother. We came and the Hospice nurse cleared the way to carry him out to the car for the hospital. With my bro on Dad's right arm and me on the left, we stepped outside on the icy porch. Dad said "wait.. wait". He paused and looked at my brother first and then me.. shook his head ok as if to say he knew it was time. I still cry when I picture that image. Dad lasted only 2 days in the hospital (thankfully). I was holding his hand when he took his last breath. I still thank God for that. His chest puffed up.. & his soul ascended. I love you Dad.
—yy4u

Illogical requests

My brother's eye were really glossy and glazed like he was looking right through me. He asked me to go "check the signs for the bus, go check now"..so i went into the kitchen where Hospice was. I then went back, took his chilly hand and said: "the signs are fine. They said it is ok for you to get onto the bus. Everything is fine." His hand quivered and I held it until he fell asleep and his hand became still again. I found out after we left, that when he woke and saw we had gone, he tore his morphine IV out and thrashed around. He wants to leave with whoever comes to visit. This is the worst experience of illness I have ever seen and I never want to see it again. I HATE cancer! It is not fair that it just eats at you while you slowly wither away and there is nothing anyone can do. I hope he is not afraid. Please God make him not be afraid...please?
—Guest Kris

Being strong for the nan l love so much

I am sitting here now knowing tomorrow my nan will have her medication stopped - the antibiotics for her pneumonia are not working and the severe stroke she had 4 months ago has ravaged her poor frail body. I want to be with her when she passes to comfort her and fill her full of love - she has been so kind to me and I am her next of kin. When l went to see her today l made sure l had a big beam on my face she would not want me to be sad but to enjoy the rest of my life l am quite nervous but want to say goodbye to her until one day we meet again and l can give her a huge hug and my beautiful grandad too
—Guest CCH

My Friend

My childhood friend developed breast cancer in her early forties and despite surgeries, chemo and radiation she was not expected to survive very long. The immediate family couldn't always be with her in the hospital but her friends made a point of ensuring she was never alone. During her last days she frequently woke from drug induced sleep and spoke of her teenage boyfriend who had predeceased her. For her girlfriends who knew this person it was somewhat of a relief that she would be reunited with him soon. However, for her then husband it was very distressing losing his wife to a dead boyfriend. We tried to downplay the connection but what was a relief to some was pure agony for others. She died in her husband's arms only a day later. I only hope she found the person she was looking for when she crossed over.
—everyperson

This site made me return to dads side

Dad seemed to be recovering a little from his cancer but rehab called and said he went downhill fast. Long story short, hospice noted his condition and said he didn't have long. They set him to relax, and we went home. I read this site and realized they werent just right but I'd better get back to him. I did and 30 minutes later he died. I let him know it was ok to let go. At that moment he stopped breathing. I gave him instructions to seek passed relatives and go to the light. He exhibited all of the signs listed here. We fought hard together for his life, but it was too much too late. Men, have your PSA's checked in a simple blood test. Dad died at 69 because he didn't have checkups. I want to thank this site for being there when I needed it at such a crucial time.
—johnnyU123

Beloved Husband

April 2008, my husband Bill was diagnosed with rapidly progressive Alzheimers. The disease was so quick, Bill was a different person almost daily. Most of the time he did not know me, or our son, unable to articulate, with much memory lose & unable to re-call how to perform the simplist tasks. In December 2008 he had a heart attack, strokes, and died 5 days later. Thru it all I was stunned, and when he last opened his eyes, looked at me and stopped breathing, I thought he was asleep. It took the nurse staring at me for awhile till I got it, he had died. During his time in the hospital, Bill became lucid, remembered who I was, he thanked me, told me how much he loved me, asked if I was "Okay". I am ever grateful for this gift, but will never get over my lose, we were together almost 40 yrs. Enjoy those you love & who love you, life is so short.
—Guest Bobi

An expected but sudden death

I married my husband 6 years ago, in our 50's. Our relationship was magical,we had both been through misery with others. We felt so lucky! Soon he was diagnosed with CHF, was in AFIB a lot, also diabetic, had cardiac ablations, and after an infection picked up in an outpatient procedure was hospitalized for 23 weeks in 2008. He eventually went into renal failure and after coming home last Nov was on dialysis 3 days a week. He never gave up, as a musician all his life he could not stop the music. So he put together a new band, rehearsed in the studio every week, sometimes he could barely breathe. I knew time was likely short. We flew East to visit old friends and family. A month before passing he started asking me what happens when one dies,a topic we rarely discussed. He knew my strong belief-we are always connected to those we love eternally. He slept a lot, was often in his "own world". Passed quietly in his sleep after a vigorous day of band practice and great evening spent together
—Guest Diane

I understand

death or is it a new beginning? to me it's a new beginning 100%. IT gives me strength to believe that other loved ones are close to receive a dying loved one. I am keeping this vague as a family member is now speechless, lying on the bed waiting to enter a new world, unknown to you & I but for real, another world to meet her husband again and other family members. I miss her already and believe you in me, it humbles oneself to know what life is really about.
—Guest Private

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