Timing the "Last Good-bye"

If your loved one is dying, as in the end stages of Alzheimer's, do you find that you're reluctant to leave the bedside, much less the house? Do you, or visiting family members, feel a burden to say good-bye every time you leave, in case it might be the "last time"?

This is as common as it is understandable. No one wants to miss a final farewell with a loved one. And yet, it's impossible to time because we're not gods or soothsayers. Moreover, there's evidence that the dying choose their moment of death and often prefer a moment when family members are not at their bedside, in order to spare them the experience.

Hospice and dying experts often counsel families not to fixate on timing. What's more important, they say, is that you make your peace, by expressing your love and appreciation, at many small points along the way. You'll be less likely to have regrets or attach unnecessary weight to whatever becomes the eventual last good-bye.

And when you must part temporarily, remember that a hug or touch speaks as profoundly as any important speech.


over 1 year ago, said...

.. and if better arrangements were made to allow the dying to be at home this would be largely unnecessary. But we leave people grieving and away form those who are trapped in hospital.. as my demented husband currently if trapped in Macclesfield Hospital, where he has been for five long months. Trapped. Will he even be alive to come out again? He is 87 years old, so I do not know. The legislation in England is so badly skewed against the best interests of the disabled and old, that many are trapped unnecessarily in our acute hospital wards. Whilst there they gain (I use that term loosely) pressure ulcers, bladder and kidney damage, unsteadiness on their feet, and complete dependency. Yet we are not supposed to protest... Why not?


over 2 years ago, said...

Our loved ones are living, not dying.... Love them, hold them, kiss them, make every moment count... Living with the anticipation that they may die when you are not there is an anxiety we as caregivers don't need. Be present in the moment. Let it all unfold as it will... I am blessed to have had both parents for so many years... many didn't have as much time with their loved ones, treasure that, focus on that, not what we have no control over... I have found this to be such a good time in so many ways. I've had a chance to see Mom without all the filters she put in place for herself.... It just make me love her more....if that's possible....


about 4 years ago, said...

I take turns with my sisters to take care of our Mom and this has been a very sensible problem for me: fear that when I leave my mother will die. Each time I leave her I cry and feel so sad. I even get depressed and have to look for help when I return home.


over 4 years ago, said...

I do leave the house, but always give her a kiss and I guess I am doing just about what the article says. Good to know and will most likely have hospice before long.