How do I help my 90-year-old father face end of life issues?

1 answer | Last updated: Jan 21, 2014
A fellow caregiver asked...

How to help my 90-year-old father face the end of his life? He is bed ridden with renal insufficiency, congestive heart failure, A-fib and insulin dependent diabetes.

Community Answers

Soulfulwriter answered...

I can totally relate to your dilemma. I had to tell my mother that she was going to die soon after her breast cancer metastasized. I remember, on my way home, trying to figure out how I was going to break the news to her. I got an answer before I got home.

I told her that she was one of the luckiest people on earth. She would get to know that her physical time on earth was coming to an end. Why lucky? Because, I could leave the house and be hit by a car and killed unexpectedly. If so, I would not have the time to say my good-byes to those I love, to get my affairs in order, and spend my final days either writing or recording my memoirs for those I leave behind. So, yes, she was lucky to have that time. To know ahead of time that her number will be up shortly.

My mother, who was bedridden, smiled and immediately asked me for a pen and paper. She tried to write something but was too weak. Then, she told me to bring her the phone so she could call her friends and loved ones to say good-bye and make her peace. She got her affairs in order.

She died two or three months later. I was by her side (although I had to leave the room or, better said, pretend that I was leaving the room for her to take her last breath). After she died, she had the most peaceful and most beautiful smile on her face that I had ever seen.

However, prior to her death, we discussed the fact that the body is just a shell but the spirit never dies. We also discussed that death is a form of birth onto a new life and dimension. I also read the bible to her, especially King David's prayers, "...and though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil for God is with me."

Nevertheless, first you need to come to terms with his impending death before you can guide and comfort him. Most importantly, be there for him. Let him know that you love him and you want him to be comfortable and at peace. Remind him of your love everyday. Even if you know that he knows it. All your loved ones need to hear it from you regularly. Let him know that you will miss him but will be OK because he will always be with you in your memories of the moments you both shared through life.

I hope this helps.