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Finalist in the Santa Fe Writer's Project Literary Awards, Eric Hoffer First Horizon Awards, Reader's Favorite Awards and Indie Excellence Awards

Preparing for Your Loved One’s Death: A Critical Piece of Advice

There are many emotional issues facing family members and friends when a loved one is terminally ill. These include things such as communicating the terminal diagnosis to others; overcoming denial that the person is in fact terminally ill; feeling the need to “be strong” for that person’s benefit; dealing with anticipatory grief; and deciding when or if to engage hospice care services – just to name a few.

I want to share my experience near the end of Ed’s life. After I started hospice care for him I consulted Doug Smucker, MD, a family physician at the University of Cincinnati who specialized in end-of-life care.

After answering all my questions, he told me something that completely changed my thinking and feelings about the situation. He said that rather than focus on Ed’s impending death, I should focus on doing everything I could to help him have the highest possible quality of life in the time that was remaining.

That turned me around and led me to focus on all the special things I could do for Ed – visiting him more often, taking my little Shih Tzu to see him, having the violinist come back and play another concert for him, and buying him even more of the stuffed animals he loved so much. This helped both me and Ed have a beautiful, pleasant months-long conclusion of our life together.

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6 Responses to “Preparing for Your Loved One’s Death: A Critical Piece of Advice”

  1. Bethany from Texas says:

    My mom is getting hospice care but it isn’t very good. They are always late and sometimes don’t come at all. I’m going to switch to a different company. She deserves better in her final days.

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  2. Joyce Markson from Vermont says:

    A doctor gave me almost exactly the same advice. It has really helped how I feel about it.

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  3. Joe Jones from Boston says:

    I understand what you’re saying but it isn’t that easy for me. My husband of 45 years is at the Alzheimer’s terminal stage and doesn’t really enjoy anything anymore. I can’t tell for sure but I don’t think he even enjoys my visits. He doesn’t recognize me. This is all terribly distressing to me. It’s just an awful, horrible disease. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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  4. Jeanne Weisman says:

    I just came back from visiting my mom in a nursing home. Ever since she went in four weeks ago, they have had her on “mush” (everything is pureed) because she has trouble swallowing now. She only takes one or two spoonfuls of the “mush.” The day I visited they were having a family fair outside the nursing home with free food and entertainment. I decided to take mom outside. I grabbed a piece of watermelon and held it to her mouth – I had to help her break off a piece by holding it against her bottom teeth because she forgets how to bite down. Her eyes lit up and she proceeded to chew and swallow a whole slice of watermelon. She also was able to have part of a hot dog which brought a smile to her face. Later she ate a whole (melting) ice cream sandwich. As the day went on she started to slip back – I gave her a swig of lemonade and she held it in her mouth for the next half hour before I was able to pry open her mouth and let it drain out (she even forgets how to spit). Even though I left the home in tears because “I wanted my mother back,” I take joy in the fact that for a brief time I was able to reach her and give her some pleasure.

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  5. Lucille Voight from Easton Penna 18045 says:

    My husband of 63 years has Alzheimers and does not really know me anymore.He calls for his Mom. I am very sad. Have him at home with Bayada nurses caring for him through the waiver program as I have only SS for income.Had a full time girl who was very good but she is going on another case and I am devastated. Bayada has poor management take new cases and havent enough help to cover their present ones. I am 83 he is 89 and my stress level is over the top.He is on hospice and they are great!!He is in last stages but very strong eats good totally incontinent.I also have difficulty walking from arthritic knees. Am caregiver most of time. I never thought my last years could be so painful physically and mentally but they are. A horrible disease!

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