Dying: A Guide to Crossing Death's Doorstep

How to Know Your Loved One is Dying

This hub offers a breath-by-breath-to-last-breath guide to help you recognize and participate in each stage of your loved one's last weeks, days, hours and minutes of life.

Like fingerprints, each person's exit from this earth is unique and highly individual. However, there are certain universal harbingers that signal the Grim Reaper's entrance. As one might hover over a loved one's sickbed watching for signs of recovery, those of us in hospice wait and watch for behavorial death omens (bdo's for short).

Death be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)

Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10) by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy'or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die .

I am not a ghoulish girl, honestly

If you've read some of my hubs you might get the impression I've got some kind of death wish. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that my life has been filled with death over the past few months. As a result, it has risen to the top of my topics list.

I'm reminded of the line in "Silence of the Lambs" when Dr. Hannibal Lecter says to FBI Agent Clarice Starling (in reference to serial killer Buffalo Bill): "What is it he does, Clarice?" She says something to the effect, "He hunts women." "No. He COVETS." He then asks her, "And what is it we covet?" The answer: "We covet what we see." Lightbulb-over-head moment for Clarice: "He knew her!"

So have I come to see and know death -- in a much more intimate way than I ever expected to. Death has become an integral part of my life, whether I want it to be or not. As such, it has risen to the top of my list of hub topics. We write what we know.

My dear father died November 24, 2008. This morning, a mere 3 months and 2 days later, my beloved father-in-law joined him in heaven.

 

MM's Dad and Father-in-Law

Father's Day 2005
Father's Day 2005

The Dying Experience

The hospice social worker gave us a booklet titled "Gone From My Sight, the dying experience" (by Barbara Karnes). The information in this booklet is incredibly useful for famiies of terminally ill patients. Even if your loved one is not terminally ill it can be equally useful. It can help you interpret behaviors that otherwise make no sense. Basically, what you're seeing means your loved one is preparing for death.

1-3 Months Prior to Death

 Withdrawal -- Beginning of separation from the world. Decreased interest in newspapers, TV, then from people (refuses visitors) and finally from children, grandchildren and even spouse.

Sleeping More -- During this phase the person is going inside self, sorting things out and evaluating one's self and life. This is typically done with the eyes closed. More and longer periods of sleep occur.

Communication -- Words lose importance. Touch and wordless communication become more prominent.

Food -- When the body is preparing to die it's natural that eating decreases or stops. Meats go first, followed by vegetables and other hard-to-digest foods. Eventually only liquids are taken.  The body no longer needs fuel. From this point forward, spiritual energy, not physical energy, will be needed.

1-2 Weeks Prior to Death

 Disorientation -- Person is sleeping mos tof the time now. S/he often becomes confused, talking to people and about places and events that make sense only in their head. Conversing with loved ones who are already dead is common.

Agitation -- Picking at the bedclothes and agitated arm movements, restlessness occur.

Physical changes -- several changes signal that the body is losing its ability to maintain itself.

* Blood pressure may lower

*Pulse beat may increase to upwards of 150 or decreasing down as low as 0.

*Body temperature fluctuates between fever and cold. There is increased perspiration and clamminess.

*Skin color changes. It's flushed with fever, then bluish with cold. A pale yellowish palor washes over the complexion.

*Nailbeds, hands and feet are often pale and bluish because the heart can no longer circulate blod throughout the body.

*Breathing changes. Respiration may increase from a normal 16-20 to 40-50 breaths per minue. Or it may decrease to 9 or even 6 breaths per minute. You may notics a puffing or blowing of the lips upon exhaling. Rhythmic breathing may stop then restart.

*Congestion causes a rattly sound in the lungs and upper throat. Non-productive coughing may occur. The breathing and congestion symptoms come and go.

1-2 Days or Hours Before Death

*Energy Surge.  It's common to experience a final surge of energy. Person may be alert and talking instead of disoriented. S/he may request a favorite meal. Visitors may be asked for (or at least tolerated). The person may move about wanting to move furniture or other activities requiring energy.

This means that the spiritual energy for the transition from this world into the next has arrived. It is used for a brief time in physical expressions.

*The 1-2 week signs (above) become more intense as death approaches.

*Restlessness may increase due to lack of oxygen in the blood.

*Breathing patterns become more irregular and slower. Breathing may stop for 10, 15, up to 30 seconds before resuming.

*Congestion may become very loud, still intermittent.

*The eyes have a glassy look, often tearing. They may be open or semi-open but not seeing.

*Hands and feet become purplish. Knees, ankles and elbows, underside of arms, legs, back and buttockscan be blotchy.

*Person becomes generally non-responsive.  

Final Minutes of Life

*Cannot be wakened

*Gasping for air/fish-out-of-water breathing

*Final separation occurs when breathing stops. What appears to be last breath is often followed by 1-2 long-spaced breaths.

*Mouth remains open, unable to close.

*The physical body is now empty. Its owner has moved into the spiritual realm.

 

Death: Are you experienced?

Have you ever watched someone die?

See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 75 comments

Pest profile image

Pest 7 years ago from A Couch, Lake Odessa, MI

WOW! I held my aunt's hand as she passed away, that is exactly how it happened!


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

When my father died whom I wrote about , I felt his last breath against my cheek and it brought back a flood of memories and made me cry. I deal with death it seems on a daily basis, but what hurts the most is when it is someone you love. I know you are not wish death upon you as you are grieving for the loss of two wonderful people, God will make you stronger and now he has given you the gift of seeing the signs before they are gone, which many have not expereinced.My heart goes out to you and yours.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Pest and AEvans, Death is definitely one of those life events that you never forget. Like childbirth -- only without the cute little baby at the end. I found having this guide very helpful in preparing me for the end. It really helped to know and recognize that burst of energy and to watch for the fish-out-of-water breathing at the very end.

Not a fun experience, but actually a very communal and spiritual one!

Thanks for stopping by.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

I voted.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

goldentoad: What did you vote for???:::::)


Pest profile image

Pest 7 years ago from A Couch, Lake Odessa, MI

Yeah, the vote thingy wasn't there when I first posted.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

Mighty Mom's poll.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia

I find the death process very interesting, especially the passing over. It can be a beautiful experience especially during the after life wanderings. I helped my father who also died last year.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Wow and Hospice told us something that was a bit hard to hear...sometime when a person takes their last breath and you know they have passed it appears their heart still beats...that is with someone who has a heart pacer...the pacer has a battery and it helps the heart beat but when the heart stops it still tries... till the battery run out...

This was a great hub sweetie and I am also living with this happening soon with my mom...all the symptoms are present...just not fully yet...the body shuts down at it's own rate...I pray for hers to be peaceful and for me to be with her...Will be my first actual being there experience...God Bless you for your understanding ways...G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Good to see you all. I've felt very estranged/removed from HP recently. Feels good to spew those words out and know they'll be understood (or at least voted on:-) by compadres. Thanks, MM


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia

Mighty Mom , please accept from me a huge Hubhug and condolences for the loss of your father in law. I'm sure he and your father are both enjoying a great laugh at we mere mortals trying to cope with all of our worldly problems that we think are so important, but in the big scheme of things don't really matter all that much!

May God bless you!


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Pest, It wasn't there for me either or maybe I just overlooked it, I voted and I am certain that you know what my answer was :)


Benjimester profile image

Benjimester 7 years ago from San Diego, California

Wow, this is a really unique and interesting hub. I never would have known that such clues exist to a person's final exit from our world. Thanks for the enlightening read.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

mighty mom, It is never easy to lose loved ones. I got cancer myself and almost died (actually did die technically for a while) then lost my marriage, my mom and dad, my home and my income within a year of each other a while back. All I can offer is the empathy gained through those experiences. I wish you love and strenght to carry on for those who love you and for yourself.


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I think I have observed some of the signs but in retrospect not during the moment. Thanks for sharing MM.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia

G'day MM , On my puter the top ad is covering up your Sonnet by John Donne , just thought you might like to know? Please Delete this comment .


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Wow I got the shivers reading the 1-3 month, 1-2 weeks and final hours phases -- that is exactly how I remember it for dad. The only "phase" that wasn't there for dad was the sudden surge of energy... Personally, I think it's "good" to know what to expect, either for loved ones or for oneself. Great hub, Mighty Mom!


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Receive my compassion and condolence, please. Loosing our dearest ones is never easy. It is easier for people who leave this world.

I believe that life never stops, it is just yourney of the soul, when time comes, we must leave our bodies, But love, which is connection between people stays forever, we will all meet again...many times. You will see your dearest ones again.

It is good to have such informations.

Great Hub, thank you.


Aldwyn 7 years ago

Great effort!!!


pgrundy 7 years ago

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing this hub. This is an amazing and brave hub, and it is exactly right. We NEVER talk about this stuff! It is so refreshing to see it openly laid out this way.

My father died of lung cancer in his late 40s. Everything you list here I can relate to. He died alone in the hospital, but at the moment of his death I was awakened from a sound sleep by that death rattle sound. I was in my apartment. I kept hearing it even after I was awake. I was terrified and ended up driving to my mother's house and staying until the funeral was over. For three days after his death I heard or felt him off and on, and then it stopped.

I know he is not gone, he's just not here in the way he was before.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia

MM, thank you for being the brave person you are and writing this hub. I've witnessed all but the moment, and you've described this so well. Some of the signs are ones I didn't even realize were signs.

I remember my grandmother, a few weeks before her death, asking for her stuffed rabbit which was something she had as a kid, and she'd get very irritated at not having it.

Thumbs up and great job. :)


jjrubio 7 years ago

I am so sorry for you loss. I too feel I have come to know "Death" more than I would have liked to. My fiancé of 2 years was murdered in 2002, My step-father died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma two weeks after my Fiancé( literally rooms apart in the ICU unit at the hospital). My Uncles died a few days apart in 1998. And my Grandfather passed on 12/12/08. I have dealt also with several of my dearest friends passing as well.

I have learned that death is certain and life is not. I know they are safe now in GODS care and I do not have to see any of them suffer as they did in their state prior to their sad ending. Again, I am truly sorry for your loss.


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 7 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

I was with my dad last year when he passed, and he was peaceful. I can only hope my own time is peaceful and surrounded by loved ones.

Cheers! - Chef Jeff


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

I lost my parents within 14 months of each other when my children were very small. Even now when I think of them it brings a tear to my eye. You have my sympathy MIghty Mom. A big cyber hug to you.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Dear Hubfriends who took the time to comment. Having you all share in my experience is very comforting for me. Believing that I am sharing information that could be of benefit to others -- even in hindsight -- is also comforting. I did not have this information when my Mom passed, but clearly recognize her burst of energy. That day she got dressed, sat up and entertained guests (including my in-laws). Not understanding what I was watching, I naively thought she might be getting better!

With my Dad, more of the preparatory signs were obvious. G-Ma J, I can relate to the heart beating after the last breath. That would be scary. And is why a medical professional (nurse) needs to pronounce.

For everyone who has suffered loss (and multiple losses), please know that you have my prayers for you and your loved ones. That's what HP is really all about -- supporting each other!

Ag -- I have moved the poem to the top. Hopefully it will no longer be covered by ads (how crass and commercial!!!). And Pest and AEvans -- I had a bit of trouble getting all the capsules of this hub in place. Kept getting kicked offline. So the original version of the hub did not have the poll. Nor did it have the photo of my Dad (the one in the Jeremiah O'Brien sweater) and Father-in-law.

Thanks again to all who stopped by. I am looking forward to writing on more upbeat topics soon! MM


retirementhelp profile image

retirementhelp 7 years ago

Great Hub!! None us are getting out of here alive. This shell that we inhabit is not forever. We have to come to grips with that. Thanks for sharing this important information!!


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

MM: I'm so sorry for your losses. When it rains, it pours. It is always difficult, and it never gets any easier, and I guess it shouldn't. How are you holding up? My moms behavior was very odd. She asked me to come over and pick up her plants to put them in my sunroom for the winter. When I got there, she kissed me for the first time since I got to that age where you say, "Oooo, Mom! I'm too old for that." A similar experience happened with my brother. Then she waited for my sister to get home from school and a couple of minutes later, slumped over in the chair with an aneurism. It was very strange.

Thanks for sharing your story and your observations.


born to be free profile image

born to be free 7 years ago

I'm sorry for your loss Mighty Mom,

I would like to share another view on this subject. What you have described is certainly the case the majority of the time, but there are rare occasions where this is not the case. I bring this up because of two experiences I am aware of.

The first was my Mothers Mom. In 1988, on a Saturday night, I received a phone call from my Grand Mother. She was confused because one of my Uncles was pushing the teachings of a book "88 Reasons Why Christ Will Come In 88." She asked me about the second coming of Christ, after sharing all the verses with her, I replied, one thing for sure Grandma, if you go to be with the Lord before the Rapture takes place, then it will not matter to you when the Lord returns. Up to this point Grandma had showed no signs what-so-ever of nearing death. The next morning she went to Sunday Service. My sister was beside her as they all prayed. My sister noticed that Grandma wasn't praying. Grandma had stepped out and was gone.

The second instance is of my Grandma on my Dads side. She too had showed no signs of nearing the end. She was constantly traveling and visiting her Christian friends around the Country. After her last trip she had been home for about three weeks. Everything was fine. Her routine was to awaken and and spend time in prayer, and then have her morning coffee. My Uncle had noticed that my Grandma had not had her morning coffee, so he went to her room. When he entered the room, he found Grandma on her knees at the bed side, she was gone.

Most others that I know, have gone the way you have described. But I thought I would also share that a rare few, do not go the way most of us do.


ColdWarBaby 7 years ago

My condolences Mighty Mom.

You have inspired me. I am at this moment writing a new essay. You have evoked memories that speak to me now more clearly than a moment ago.

If it becomes a hub, it will be dedicated to you.


Eddie Perkins 7 years ago

Mighty Mom,

Thank you.  I love hospice.  They were there for my son, mother and Barbie’s father.  They walked us through much of what you have written here and it was very helpful.  To me it is good to know that there is a natural process and signs for the family.  We can’t avoid death, but we can prepare.

Thank you. ~ eddie


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

So sorry to hear of your most recent loss MM. Your summary of how it happens was very accurate from my own recollections of watching my first Husband die of Cancer on his final day, What I do know is that apparrently there are 7 stages of final breathing, and each is so unique that Nurses will recognise it. I was woken by Dave's family once he got to the 7th stage, and he died within half an hour afterwards. As you said, a day or so before he was really coherant and chatty, but that was straight after they released him from the hospital, (which is also quite normal apparently).

They also say the soul knows it is going to pass before the physical body/conscious mind does, and that signs are often noticed by famly that preclude death, but make more sense when you consider this fact afterwards. This was certainly true of my Husband.


ryan0257 profile image

ryan0257 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Very interesting. I didn't know there was a pattern towards death. Sad to hear you have had some experience recently. I have to keep an eye out for the signs when my elders begin to become terminally ill.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

A person at the twilight will return to a specific event over and over during their early years or at least my grandfather did.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

I think that's a happy way to end -- going back mentally to (hopefully) a happy memory.

My dad did a lot of studying about end of death and he said the departing person's loved ones visit them and hold out their arms. How cool is that?

Thanks for visiting Mentalist acer!


Aley Martin profile image

Aley Martin 6 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

Glad you wrote this MM. I teach a lot of literary stories surrounding death and dying and it is my wish to assuage the angst surrounding the event. We have life celebrations for the dead, not funerals....they are beautiful!

Great hub.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Aley,

Death is a prominent theme in literature, isn't it? And no wonder, as it's 100% universal!

I do think a lot depends on the circumstances surrounding the death -- funerals can be beautiful, too!


deepanjana profile image

deepanjana 6 years ago

Pattern towards Death. interesting indeed!!


Catlyn profile image

Catlyn 6 years ago from Somewhere in the OC

My thoughts are with you today ~ this Fathers Day ~ we lost a precious son/grandson/great grandson/nephew eleven years ago today. Although it was an accidental death, our family was all present when he was taken off life support. The other side of this life is always just a heartbeat away.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Thank you for the kind thoughts, Catlyn. It does seem to be a day to reflect on those who have traversed to the other side. We were talking today about my husband's sister who was also taken off life support. It's a really emotionally tough way to see a loved one go. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Obviously the loss of this precious son/grandson/greatgrandson/nephew is still fresh in your minds.

Wishing you all God's blessings. MM


tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 6 years ago from home

MM,

I am not sure what happened to me physically when

i dued but-I know what happened to "my head"- "In my head".see my 3 part series on this...*shameless self promotion I admit it"

good hub...TH


Ladybythelake55 profile image

Ladybythelake55 6 years ago from I was Born in Bethesda, Maryland and I live in Chicago,IL

I watched four people die after I took them off life support and it took each one of them 30 minutes to finally die. The last thing that was to stop was their heart-beat I thank God they did not have to suffer because they did not know what was going on around them.

God Bless,

Karissa


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Karissa,

I wish I could say "I feel your pain." But I cannot. Experience of death is different for everyone. You've had more than your share of dramatic cross-overs.

God bless to you.

MM


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago

Thank you. Good hub and helpful hub. Do you think death comes in 3s? I wonder why that is?


rsmallory profile image

rsmallory 6 years ago from Central Texas

Hi MM, it's been a while. Doing a little research on HP about end of life and Hospice and came across this hub. Sorry for your losses. I am struggling thru a very hard situation with my mom at the moement. Cancer and complications brought her home from the hospital on Thursday last week with the help of Hospice. They said 2 to 7 days. I am already seeing a lot of the signs you wrote of. My heart is broken but I am so thankful for this time with her. It is very special, precious to me indeed. Thanks for the hub.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hello rsmallory,

I'm so very sorry to hear about your mom. It is a unique and actually quite special time you are sharing with her now.Thank you for seeking out my hub.I hope that knowledge of what's going on and to come is "power" (in a completely powerless situation).

Please feel free to contact me offline and/or talk on the forums. There are a LOT of us here on HP who have walked this path. You are not alone.

God bless. MM


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

MM) I am so sorry for the loss of your dad and father-in-law. It's so very very hard to lose people we love. The hardest thing in the world,I'd say.

This is a very useful guide to help loved ones know what to expect in the dying process. I wish I had known these things when my parents were sick - in fact if I could go back and do it all again I would have called Hospice in. I just did not want to let go - and feel selfish for that.

I was with both of my parents when they died. With my dad it was very peaceful and I "saw" his cross-over. My mom, on the other hand, struggled for breath and it was hard to watch that. I miss them so much, always will - they were my best friends. Getting teary-eyed thinking about it.

God bless you my friend.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

What a lovely treat to log on and see a comment from you, dear friend Dorsi! I am getting teary-eyed reading about your relationship with your parents. I miss mine terribly as well.

I think the lesson in what I went through is death is not to be feared. It is a natural process and can be beautiful (when you get to watch your loved one cross over, as we both did with our dads).

It's comforting to have others like you who have been through the same thing and are now "adult orphans." We're a special club!

Best, MM


baygirl33 profile image

baygirl33 5 years ago from Hamilton On.

Mighty Mom

Thanks for your hub.A variation of those symptons did appear when my husband died but I didn't want to see them and tried to will him back to me.But failed. He died in my arms last week and I will write about it when I awake from this fog.He was my all and I need to find another direction but for now I just exist.

Thanks for sharing.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Dear baygirl33,

I'm so glad you took the time to comment. My heart goes out to you. I hope you find lots of comfort and support at Hub Pages -- my friends here have helped me through a lot of pain and crises, although nothing on the scale of losing my husband. But many hubbers have lost their life's partners and I'm sure will be happy to pull you through the fog.

God bless. MM


kdenn 5 years ago

My husband died 2010 of cancer. Watching him laying there in his last moments was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I loved him dearly. The sadest part is that I didn't see all the death signs were there. I didn't even know them until a hospice nurse handed me a booklet that explained all of them after his death. I learned more about death in that time then I ever wanted to know.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hello kdenn,

I'm sorry to hear of your husband's passing.

To this day, I'm not sure if it's better to have the knowledge of what we're witnessing or to not have it.

Once we start seeing those signs... we know the end is near. Now that I've learned them, of course, I can't unlearn them.

But shame on your hospice nurse for not giving you that booklet before rather than after.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience.

Sending you healing thoughts.

MM


baygirl33 profile image

baygirl33 5 years ago from Hamilton On.

I hear you about the signs.I went through it with my darling husband this summer. I worried about the signs and while I saw them,all of them.I still thought he was going to get better.I guess I didn't recognize them for what they were. I just walked with him and thought I'd eventually take him home. Heartbreakingly I didn't.

I'm sad for you and me.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

baygirl,

I really appreciate your sharing the story of your husband. That is a level of loss I have not (yet) had to deal with.

It's quite different when the person you are watching slip away is elderly. It's still sad, but not tragic.

My heart goes out to you in. Glad you're here on HP and hope you are getting good support. There are lots of folks here who have walked the same journey.

Peace, MM


God love her 5 years ago

Hi, my mother is fighting cancer. My mother now sees things that are not there. When she talks it doesn't makes many sense to others, and talks about a dead brother of hers. My mother has stage 4 cancer. My mother is dizzy a lot, out of breath like she has been running at times, and has even passed out on my father. could this be a sign that she has only weeks to live?


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hello God love her.

I'm so sorry to hear about your mom.

I don't want to jump to conclusions about what your mom's behavior and reactions mean.

The disorientation and dizziness could be an effect of pain medication rather than the disease itself.

Depending on where her cancer is, something could be pressing on her lungs making her out of breath.

Talking about a dead brother means she is THINKING about the afterlife. So yes, she is starting to transition toward her dead brother.

But is she weeks away from reuniting with her brother?

Can't say.

My mother-in-law talks about her dead parents and her dead husband all the time. She never used to nap but now naps at least 2x a day. Her transition out of this world is occurring very slowly. She still eats like a horse -- so that's the one way we will know she's really getting ready to go. When she stops eating.

I wish you and your family peace. Try to enjoy every precious moment you DO have with your mom. Whether it's weeks or months or longer, you know that her time (or anyone's really) is not unlimited. So focus on right now.

In my experience, that living in the moment is very enriching and does help take the fear out of not having control...

Blessings. MM


nina64 profile image

nina64 5 years ago from chicago, Illinois

Dear MM, I'm so sorry for your loss!!! In January of 2006, I lost my mom due to complications from ovarian cancer. At the time all this was going on, I watched my mother slowly pass away right before my eyes. For some reason or another, I sensed that she would be gone sooner than I had expected. My 3 older sisters & I went to mom's house on a Saturday.....to help clean up and fix a potluck dinner of fried catfish, spaghetti and salad. We laughed and talked and shared memories of growing up. Meanwhile, we were constantly checking on mom to see if she was ok. We each took turns being by her side. Later on that day, I stayed with mom during night, but I could not sleep. I went into mom's room, she was ok. But when I looked into her eyes, something inside told me that she would not be around much longer. Sure enough, later on that week, she passed on. I have not been the same. I have moved on, but it still hurts because I miss her so much. What a great hub you have written. Thank you so much.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Nina,

Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt story of your last days with your mom. As sad as it is, it can be very, very special time. Love the description of the potluck and sharing memories. What a beautiful tribute to your mom that her family gathered around her.

We never, ever are the same after we lose our parents.

Tomorrow will be 3 years for my dad. I have done a LOT of crying recently. I miss him every day.

Thank you for sharing your experience so beautifully. Blessings to you and your family. MM


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nina64 5 years ago from chicago, Illinois

Hello MM,

Like you, I still find myself in tears when I think of my mom. My mom has been gone for 5 years now, but it still seems as if it happened yesterday.

Again, thank you for such a well written article. May God bless you and your family as well. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


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Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

MM -- I lost my son and only child a year ago yesterday. I've somewhat beaten myself up as I don't feel I've gone forward as far as adjusting to him being gone as I should have -- and I can't change that. If this Hub does nothing else for anyone in the world it has helped me to know there are others who feel as I do and we all grieve differently and in different time frames. Thank you so very much. Best, Sis


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Mighty Mom 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Dear Angela,

Words cannot express the sorrow I feel reading your comment. Every mother's worst nightmare. There is nothing in the world like a mother losing her child.

I really appreciate your courage. One thing I have found is no matter what the experience -- good or bad, humorous or tragic -- writing about it is the best therapy.

I am glad you found some comfort here.

Blessings, MM


Shelley 4 years ago

My dad passed away last month from emphysema in hospice.

He was in the hospital for 2 months and his condition improved. One day, he stopped eating as much and didn't talk much either (he talked CONSTANTLY before). He didn't care about most of the things he did before..he just wanted to hear things that made him laugh and listen to stories about our beloved cat :)

Eventually, he had respiratory arrest and went into a coma, and instead of ventilating we sent him to hospice. My twin sister and I stayed the night with him there, and it only took about 10 hours for him to pass. We fell asleep for about 30 minutes, then woke up because his bi-pap alarm went off. My sister went over to him and told him she loved him so much and said goodnight, and as soon as she turned around he stopped breathing. We were in such denial..so it was a shock.

The nurse came in and said "His heart stopped, but he can still hear you". So we ran over to him and she took off the bipap. He looked completely different than he did before, and we both got jumpy when he took a few more last few breaths (not expecting them). I feel ashamed and like a failure that instead of comforting him I got scared :((((I think all I said was "it's ok" or something like that) And once he passed we closed his eyes and left the room quickly. It was the worst moment of our lives but I'm glad we were with him.


ritamae 4 years ago

My husband of almost 30years is terminal with pancreatic

cancer went the whole route of surgery and chemos not effective i watched my father and mother die its so hard to sit here and watch all of the signs again i sure hope that i am strong enough in the end he is at home with me and on hospice care they are an incredible group of people they tell it up front and frank just saw this sight and had to comment thanks


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Mighty Mom 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hello ritamae,

Thank you for sharing your experience. Pancreatic cancer is brutal. I'm so sorry to hear about your husband.

If there's any positive to knowing you're terminal it's that you get to prepare mentally and emotionally and spiritually. I know you WILL be strong in the end, although no matter how well we know the signs and acknowledge each one as it appears, it's always a shock when that end arrives.

We're here to offer support whenever you feel like posting. Hang in there and (try to) enjoy your precious time with your man. MM


Mel 4 years ago

My question is , I recently have had my daughters dad pass away in the home and grandma or his mom did mont of the funeral arrangements. we all had agreed to have him crematted. Now the issue at hand is that His remains would be split into three small urns... His mother did that nor is she speaking to me now an tells me shes putting urn in a cemetary... Does she hav that right to his urn at all to be doing this or legally does my daughter..... ?


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Mighty Mom 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Mel,

I'm sorry for the loss of your daughter's father. Death can bring out the worst in families and it sounds like there's some tension here between you and the grandmother.

Usually the funeral home or cremation service or whoever is doing the actual arrangements will ask and have you fill out a form stating what you want them to do with the ashes. It's formal so there are no misunderstandings or mistakes as to what the family/next of kin wants done.

You don't mention how old your daughter is. Is she a minor, or is she under 18? That makes a difference.

How does your daughter feel about having her dad's ashes vs. her grandmother taking them?

Is this something she wants or something you want?

I can tell you from personal experience, having physical possession of someone's ashes is not as psychologically satisfying as you might expect. We have my father-in-law's ashes here waiting for my mother-in-law's ashes (she died last week)so we can mingle them together.

I will not miss staring at the metal box but will be happy he is reunited with his beloved wife.

There is something nice about having a cemetary to go to, even if your loved one is cremated. That is the situation with my parents. They were cremated but the cremains are in a spot in a lovely cemetary. That's where we go "visit" them.

I know emotions are high right now and you want what's best for your daughter.

If you're not speaking to the mother, check with the mortuary or whoever handled the remains and get a copy of what was ordered.

Good luck and I wish you all healing.


Bonnie Gary 4 years ago

My families life long friend is dying of cancer. It is all through her body now. She has had 2 days of energy. Going out to dinner and doing activities she use to enjoy. My sister asked me to search the web for anything I could find about the spurt of energy, what it means and how long do we have left with her. Although it hurts to read the stages, you have done an excellent service for me. I won't be there at the end of her life but I do believe she will be beautiful til the end.


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Mighty Mom 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Bonnie Gary,

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I hope she dies peacefully when her time comes. It sounds like your family got to participate in a positive time with her -- that's neat (and much better memory than being there at the very end).

There are no hard-and-fast rules here. Every person is different.

I have just gone through the death process again with my mother-in-law two weeks ago. Her big burst of energy occurred more well over a week before she actually passed. She felt good, asked to be showered, interacted with company, ate food. She had another less pronounced "up" day a few days later. The night before she died her eyes popped wide open (another burst of sorts) but that was all. Then her breathing changed and that was that.

With my own mom the burst was just 2 days before she passed. At the time I did not recognize what I was seeing. Unmistakable in hindsight.

Dying is something of a rollercoaster. It's possible your friend may have more 'up' days before the cancer claims her. It's possible that this was "a" burst and not "the" burst that signals the enery for the transition has arrived.

Most important is that she got to do things she loves once more with loved ones. How beautiful.

MM


Scottish Girl 4 years ago

My father is 64 and yesterday we got told he has two weeks due to cancer and other health issues. Am heartbroken. He is coming home on Monday and he doesn't know he is dying - he is high on morphine. I dont know how am going to get through this - feel like a young girl again who just wants her dad to make things better


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Mighty Mom 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hello Scottish Girl. That's a tough piece of news you've been given. Once the initial shock wears off you will find the grownup part of yourself that recognizes thatyou need to be there for him. This is his journey and you get to help him pack and prepare.

You may even get some really special time to talk about "just stuff" and memories.

It is not an easy time. It know you want Dad to make things better for his little girl. He needs you to make them better for him now. So pull on your big girl panties and your atta girl tough girl attitude. He needs you not to fall apart.

You can fall apart after he's gone.

It's really a very special bond you develop wih a dying loved one. You will find a strength within yourself you never knew you had. U will.

my heart goes out to you and hm and your family.

i"m here if it gets overwhelming -- BUT You will do great!

mm


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Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

My Dad died when I was in my twenties and he was 51, a massive heart attack, while the family was unaware he had a heart issue. It was the night of my husband's work Christmas party, but I didn't want to go, even though we were all close knit friends at that time. For some reason I felt strongly compelled to visit Mom and Dad, and my younger brother. So I did. That was the night it happened, and I'm so glad I was there (though not at the time). Dad was going to rest a little, because he had a P/T job after dinner. He got up to be sick, and said he thought he had a touch of flu. All of a sudden, I heard a fall, and he was lying on the BR floor as Mom called 911. He was peaceful and calm, and looked at me as I knelt by him, waiting for the ER Team. He wasn't gasping or struggling. He looked at me with his big brown eyes, and said, "Don't worry, it's just a little cold." Then he closed his eyes. Just like that, he was gone. I was stunned, yet so glad I saw that he didn't suffer. My best friend from my childhood came to the funeral really drunk, sobbing like mad. I could hear people behind us saying, "The blonde daughter seems to be holding the family together, but the brunette daughter is distraught! It still makes me smile, even though my dear friend, "the brunette daughter" died from cervical cancer in 2005.


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Mighty Mom 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's premature passing. What a blessing to have been guided there that night. I feel that besides giving birth, there is no greater life miracle than being present at a loved one's death. Your story certainly bears that out.

Sorry also to hear about your friend.

Death is a real, omnipresent part of our lives once we attain a "certain age." It's been freeing for me to talk about it and provide a forum for others to share their grief.

Much better than holding it all in!

Thanks for sharing, Jean! MM


Richard 2 years ago

I was with my Dad. His breathing was labored and harsh with quick inhale and exhale, but not rapid, for a few days in Hospice. Then it changed, like he had fully relaxed. Soft breaths over a few minutes. I went to him and the breaths became slower and then just stopped. He was 92.


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Mighty Mom 2 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

What a lovely end-of-life experience for you and your father.

Thank you for sharing, Richard.

MM


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Humphrey Davy 2 years ago

My dad passed away yesterday and the above article "Dying: A Guide to Crossing Death's Doorstep" seems to say the correct things. My father had a similar experience. Since couple of days, he was feeling depressed and he used to sweat a lot. So much that we thought he was peeing. He was not eating very much, just a few spoons of liquid. Then yesterday he got up as if he has a lot of energy and said, I am hungry, give me to eat. So my mom gave him some milk and bread. Then he was sitting up on his bed. Since he was in the hospital due to heart related issues, he used to pass his time looking at various patients here and there.

Now my brother was going to another city and he said goodbye to him, when my mom turned around to him ( She was his full time attendant) she found him staring at his right side. There was a curtain and he was looking up. So she asked him what are you looking at. SO he made some signs in the air. (We have no idea what it was, mom says she understood the number 7 sign) Then he kept staring at the curtains. Moments later, his eyes became wide and big as if full of surprise, then he slipped away. She noticed his heart beat was down to 20 and then she called the nurse. The docs came and tried to revive him, but he slipped into a next life.

I just hope what ever he saw, it was good. Some days back, he saw a dream that his mom is calling him. My grandmother dies long time back. So he was mumbling something. When my mom asked him later, he said, he was seeing his mom calling him.

I miss my father very much. I have seen him struggle to feed us when we are kids. My real mom died when I was kid. I have a step mom now.

May god bless his soul and may be rest in peace and he happy with his loved ones. What to say, we all have to go someday. Even the comment writers and article authors. It just a matter of time. Some are quick to go and some go late. I often ask god, Why he made us, when we have to face death some day.

That last burst of energy is like a candle flame, just when it is about to die, it suddenly gets very strong and then it flickers and extinguishes . Life seems to be like that, the light within us gets strong and then it gets ready to leave this body. Amazing universal creator and his laws of nature. Only he knows why he created this universe with life in it.


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Mighty Mom 2 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

God bless.

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