Caring for a dying relative
This is a very hard subject. We don’t like to think about ourselves or our loved ones dying, but it is nevertheless an important subject.
If our loved one dies instantly, it is a huge shock, especially if we have not been expecting it. If you have not had a conversation, then the next stage is commonly a state of shock before you can move into a more active mode of sorting out the arrangements. This state of shock can last varying amounts of time, we are all different and how we deal with grief is different.
The death needs to be registered, the funeral arranged and then afterwards the estate can start to be sorted out.
If our loved one dies fairly quickly, this may give us an opportunity to say goodbye, to thank them for being in our lives and to let them know that they can go, if that is the right thing to say to them. Saying thank you and goodbye is something we do for us, for them too of course, but letting them know that it is OK to go is something we do for them and a bit for us. How we do that and whether we can do that will be different, sometimes we are not ready to let our loved ones go, especially if they are still young and we think that they have not finished their lives. We can then have a little time to process the situation and try to emotionally deal with it. And we cling to hope.
If our loved one dyes a lingering death, then we have that time to say thank you and goodbye and assure them that it is OK to go (assuming that it is). We are upset and then process how we feel about it, however we cannot live on the adrenalin that this heightened state of anxiety will give us, so we get slightly used to it. During this period of waiting, our loved one might rally, so we are given hope, perhaps only a glimmer or maybe a shining light, but we have hope. And then they deteriorate and our hope dies. If they have a fluctuating presentation, we can cycle through these emotions of despair and hope and we start living slightly on edge all the time, just waiting and not knowing. This is very hard to watch as we see our loved one slowly slip away.
What happens if our loved one experiences a painful death? Pain is something most of us fear. We often wish we could trade places with a loved one in pain, but we can’t. We can hold their hand, talk to them, feed them, play them music and lots of other things to try to comfort them and us, but we cannot take their pain. Pain can be managed with drugs, but often it cannot be eliminated, watching a loved one in pain, whether or not they are dying is a horrible experience for both them and us. I have been involved with many families when they are dealing with a loved one dying and a “peaceful” death is preferable, even though the death is often dreaded.
There is a finality with death, our relationship is forever changed, we can still love them, just not in person. Death may be the time we stop and grieve, but if we are involved in sorting out their affairs, we may keep ourselves busy with that and not grieve and it is only when that is over that we do finally stop and grieve, which can come as a huge shock to anyone not expecting it, particularly since the death was some time before. Greif takes time, but we can get over it and move on with our lives.
If during any of these stages we need help, friends and family may be around, but if we are faced with administration, legal or advocacy issues, I am here to help. And I understand.