How to deal with the days before removal of Life Support?

posted 3 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
Member
446 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, waiting for a loved one to die is probably one of the worst, most helpless feelings in the world. We just went through this unexpectedly with my grandfather a few months ago when he went into renal failure. On Sunday afternoon he was up walking and joking around, Tuesday morning he wouldn’t wake up. Hospice came in and said he had between 48-72 hours, and he passed Thursday morning.

Just being there will help, but if you want to do more, make or bring food and lots of it. Bring trash bags and plastic ware, because no one will want to do dishes. Volunteer to go check on DH’s aunt’s house and do the dishes, vacuum, care for pets, do a load of laundry. Start a list when cards and flowers get dropped off, so that she can send thank-you cards when she’s ready. All the little things it takes to keep a household running, she simply won’t be able to do while she processes this.

Post # 4
Member
109 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

@FreckledFox:  we’ve had to go through it a few times – I’m so sorry.  The best thing you can do right now is start thinking/talking about your favorite memories with that person, and make sure that everyone gets a few minutes alone with him before they unplug to say anything that’s on their mind (this was extremely important for me in the grieving process; I did not get a chance to say anything to my aunt before they unplugged her and I’ve always regretted that.)  Support his aunt as much as you can right now, she’s in shock and exhausted = shouldn’t be expected to do much of anything for herself.  Spend time with the relatives and talk about the past.  Also, know that while someone may pass away immediately after being unplugged, it is equally possible that they’ll linger for a day or two – there is no way to tell.  I wish someone had clued me in on that sooner.

Post # 5
Member
1917 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

@terpalum10:  +1. Sometimes there just aren’t words to relieve someone’s grief, especially when they are dealing with all the complex emotions that come with removing someone’s life support. Practical help is always welcomed – making food, cleaning the house, bringing spare boxes of tissues, taking care of pets or kids…there are many ways you can still help out. Even just a big hug and a “How are you doing?” can make a huge difference.

Another thing with people who have lost a loved one – don’t forget about them after the initial grief has faded. Even a few months later, just touch base with the aunt to see how she’s doing.

Post # 7
Member
1793 posts
Buzzing bee

Can you ask FMIL where your efforts are best spent?

Post # 8
Member
1654 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

I don’t have any words that will help… But I wanted to say I’m so sorry.  It’s never easy when a loved one’s health declines and passes away.  I assume he is being taken off of life support because he wouldn’t want his life lived that way (that’s not much of a life), so try to take comfort in that.  And know that I’m thinking of you all and praying that you can get through this with minimal hurt.  ::hugs::

Post # 10
Member
610 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

First off, I am so so sorry for you and your family. My thoughts are with you all as you go through this.

Although I’ve never had to deal with the life support issue, I have had experience with the loss of a loved one that we knew was coming. In January 2012, halfway through my junior year of college (I lived about 3.5 hours away), my grandfather took a turn for the worst with his cancer. He went into the hospital the day I went back to school after winter break, and about a week later my mom called to tell me that the doctors gave him a month to live. My 21st birthday was at the end of the month, so I planned to come home around then, but just a few days after the first phone call, I got another saying that it would most likely happen in just a few days. So although we didn’t have a set date like you do, we all went into prep mode. For the past 13 years, my grandparents have lived in the in-law suite of our house, so I was especially close with them. My entire family set up camp at my house, and the grandchildren (ranging in age from 3 to 26) came to say goodbye. However, I was still at school, so coming home was not so easy because of class and projects and all that. After many hours discussing it, and many tears, it was decided that I would say my goodbyes over the phone, because my grandfather would never have wanted me to leave school to watch him die in my own home. So one day when he was partially coherent, with all my family around him, I said quadriplegic goodbye to my grandfather, and bawled my eyes out. I later found out that when he was talking to me, it was the most “with it” he had been in days, and that made me feel so good. It was about three days after that, a Thursday morning, and I was on my way home (I had no Friday classes and just decided that I had to skip one day to go home a little sooner), when I got the call that he had passed late the evening before. Oddly enough, I barely cried at that moment. By that point I had accepted the reality, and honestly felt at peace because not only was he free from the pain and suffering, but because my family, who had been by his bedside day and night, had closure. 

So although there is nothing that can truly take away the sadness and pain you will all be feeling, you are now given an opportunity that far too few never get, and that is to say goodbye. Take this chance to be together, and tell him that you love him and will see him again someday (if you believe in heaven and all). Know that, although it may not seem like it, he will know you are there, and you can now comfort him and ease him out of this life with love and dignity.

I am truly sorry for your loss, and wish you all love and comfort during this difficult time.

Post # 11
Member
109 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

@FreckledFox:  aw, no, everyone is different but in my experience, usually vital signs just start slowing down more and more until everything stops, I’ve never seen anything super dramatic like they show in movies. 

Post # 12
Member
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@FreckledFox:  Show your support for the family.  Does anyone need a casserole since they are spending all of their time at the hospital?  Could someone use some help cleaning the house or watching the kids for a few hours so they can go visit one last time?

For me, visiting my grandmother once she was on life support was upsetting because I couldn’t feel her presence in the room anymore.  I refused to visit any more after that because it was just her body, her soul was already gone, and shortly afterward they pulled life support and she finally passed.  I stopped visiting and found other ways to be helpful to the living family members who were grieving.

Post # 13
Member
5222 posts
Bee Keeper

@FreckledFox:  we were in this situation recently with DHs grandmother.  Is there any way you can maybe help with funeral arrangements?  No one likes taking on that task,  but since you’re family and not immediate, y’all would be good candidates to disperse the information and get things set up. That would take a huge burden off of the aunt and children. 

Post # 15
Member
5222 posts
Bee Keeper

@FreckledFox:  well only you know how it would be received, but helping arrange the food after the funeral ceremony or spreading the word about flowers/donations could be helpful

Post # 16
Member
318 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’m so sorry you’re in this situation, OP. I’m a nurse and work with many patients and their families during end of life situations and removal of life support. There’s a chance he may live for a little while off life support (heavily sedated, comatose, but comfortable). One of the things I encourage families to do is bring in a radio or laptop or something and play your loved one’s favorite music. It’s very soothing and comforting to them, and it may help relax other members of the family at the bedside. It’s also great to have the family sit at the bedside and exchange happy memories of your uncle, as well as other good times (fun parties, weddings, births, etc.). It creates a “happier”, less stressful environment for everyone during this difficult time. You want to celebrate your uncle and his life! Don’t be afraid to talk to him and tell him how much you all love him, either.

Again, I’m so sorry you have to be in this situation, I hope my suggestions were helpful. I know how difficult this can be, and there is no stopping the grieving that you and your family are going through. But hopefully you all can come together and make your uncle’s passing a peaceful one and remember the wonderful life he lead. Best wishes to you all. You’re in my thoughts.

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