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As she lay dying

watermark_Deathbed_oil_on_paper_mounted_on_mdf_24x34cm

When we're constantly surrounded by negative energy, it becomes almost impossible to have calming moments. It's my nature to immediately detach from such situations or people in life, but now it's impossible. I'm staying with my sister, her husband's mother was diagnosed with lung cancer only a few months ago, and now she lies dying in the room beside me. She's been a very negative person her entire life, plagued with pessimism, four husbands have come and gone...I think you can easily see the picture of such a character.

I don't know how to handle this situation, and part of me feels guilty because I have no emotional attachment or connection to this woman, or sadness that she will soon fade away. As an extremely compassionate and loving human being, this feeling of apathy toward a dying person is unsettling. We can't force feelings in life, although many humans attempt to do it for various reasons. Connection - I have none to this woman's mentality or negative disposition. She could have chosen treatment, and in the beginning she did. It helped, but recently there was a downward shift in her attitude, and the cancer quickly returned. I truly believe the energy we project in life, is the energy that is returned to us. All of this hate, negativity, gloom - nothing good can come of it in the end. I compare her to my mom's oldest sister, who died a few years ago from lung issues. Doctors diagnosed her as terminal, yet she lived years after they predicted her death. A positive mind, attitude and light - these can be healing factors, which science and medicine cannot explain. I've seen it many times in life...while negativity, a rotting force from within.



We can't truly know how we would react if we ourselves are suddenly faced with a terminal diagnosis. Yet we will all be there someday, staring mortality in the face. I can't say that I fear death honestly, because my life has already been filled with such love, diverse experiences, adventures and human interactions. I think this is all we can ask for, and while we all have regrets, I try to minimize them by living in the moment, and pursuing dreams to the greatest extent possible. Trying to avoid the dreaded "what if?" questions so many people face in old age...

Have you dealt with a terminally ill friend or relative? How did you help them through the situation and provide some sense of comfort, or hope?

Comments

( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
avanik
Apr. 15th, 2016 02:00 pm (UTC)
I have cancer in 2013. I live and enjoy. The year was psychologically hard. Now everything is in order. And a heart attack last year. Help myself)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 02:01 pm (UTC)
Wow! I wish you good health. :) Of course, any serious medical problem is psychologically hard. People take health for granted, until it is gone...
(no subject) - avanik - Apr. 15th, 2016 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 15th, 2016 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
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maksipes
Apr. 15th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
actually the best way to die is to fall into senile dementia before. yes. for those who are dying, not for their loved ones.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC)
You're right to a certain extent. My grandmother had Alzheimer's disease, and while it's incredibly painful and sad to watch a loved one float into various make-believe lands and realities, I always admired the creative tales she wove in her final days. :) She had met with almost all Presidents, had lunch with them, traveled to exotic destinations...these were the stories she told us in her last few years on Earth, none of which were true.
perycalypsis
Apr. 15th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
If you have got to think about something- make it the uncertainty of the hour of your death. Gyalse Rinpoche
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 03:19 pm (UTC)
It seems my readers don't wish to think about anything I write recently. Maybe they all have spring fever, and are running around outside? :) Or, they're not comfortable talking about such sensitive issues and sharing feelings. But I'm a "sharer", in more ways than one.

Edited at 2016-04-15 03:20 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - perycalypsis - Apr. 15th, 2016 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 15th, 2016 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
pin_gwin
Apr. 15th, 2016 03:29 pm (UTC)
Well, being with dying relative is a bitter experience. I had. I was trying just to be calm and mildly express the appreciation to what was done to me by them. It's always sad. Also simple physical touch may be very important to dying. Holding a hand, light stroke says more than anything.
About energy and willing to live - it's not somebodies personal choice, it's kind of personality, people are born with it, therefore I would not give any judgement on that. If life exhausted any value for a person, why fight to live longer?
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)
She has died mentally, not physically. The will to fight was gone almost immediately after diagnosis. It is the nature of her personality. To only see the worst, instantly give-up and have no hope....and, I agree, if people are in a lot of pain, it's their right to give up the fight and drift away. There is some relief in that also for the family. This is how I felt when my aunt passed, because she was suffering so much and in constant pain. Touch, hug, holding hands...she does not want it. She's a cold person, and always has been.
(no subject) - maksipes - Apr. 15th, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 15th, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
moskitow
Apr. 15th, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC)
Sick relatives were my childhood routine....My mom is a very kind person so she was taking care of many people. The main thing I learned: no matter how sad it is - it's the way life is, so while you are still alive don't try to punish yourself and be sad all the time too. You are not gonna help anybody if you, yourself push your limits and fall into a depression. You have to take breaks and have some fun outside the house with a sick relative(your job doesn't count!). It's like a marathon and you have to preserve your resources. So I wish you patience and strength.....
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 03:50 pm (UTC)
Beautifully expressed, and I agree. Thanks for your encouragement and wise words.
elena_88888
Apr. 15th, 2016 04:17 pm (UTC)
I came across and experienced very similar but not the same case. There was micro insult and the memory was almost out in a very short period... Thanks God she could move, serve herself and do some simple things - apart from three weeks one year before the death and then two weeks right before the death. But it was life. She didn't ask more than we could and we did all we could... And we were all together. We remembered better days so we were able to manage. And as was said here we used breaks from time to time...
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
My brother-in-law is very stressed, and I told him the same. He needs to take a break on occasion for mental clarity and sanity. We cannot escape death - or taxes. :)) In the U.S., our tax deadline is Monday.
(no subject) - Leo Y - Apr. 16th, 2016 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elena_88888 - Apr. 16th, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Leo Y
Apr. 15th, 2016 06:50 pm (UTC)
I lost my Mom a month and a half ago. She was in her 70s, relatively young age. She didn't suffer, just drifted away. She had dementia due to micro stroke - doctors did not know for sure. Just six months ago she was perfectly fine mentally, and then it happened, seemingly within days. She passed within six months. At least she did not suffer that much (although she was uncomfortable) and it is like subconsciously she did not want to be a source of suffering to the family, watching her like this.
Your sister's mother in law - I feel the pain. At least she was mentally capable of making a decision not to prolong the pain to her and her loved ones... Because chances that she wouldn't have gotten better...
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 07:00 pm (UTC)
Sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine losing one of my parents, or how I will function afterward. I guess you just learn to cope...
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(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 15th, 2016 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 15th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Leo Y - Apr. 15th, 2016 07:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Leo Y - Apr. 15th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
notabler
Apr. 15th, 2016 07:08 pm (UTC)
Likely it never happened with me yet. But I think we all will have this experience sometime in our lives. It's inevitable
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 07:13 pm (UTC)
You're a caretaker for your husband at times, at least this is my understanding based on some stories in your blog. So, I'm sure you can relate on some level. I think he must have a more positive and appreciative attitude in life though, when compared to my sister's mother-in-law.

Edited at 2016-04-15 07:14 pm (UTC)
zhang_fei
Apr. 15th, 2016 08:09 pm (UTC)
We looked after my great-grandmother and years later my grandmother several months before they died. They both had dimentia and the whole experience was really traumatizing. Even though I loved my granma dearly, pretty much all I could wish during her last days that this whole thing ends as quickly as possible. Towards the end, the doctor told me and my sister: "You know, guys, there are miracles but... Anyway, you grandmother has maybe 10 days left, at most". She died a week after that. And you know, at first I didn't like it, but then I started to appreciate his honesty.

Edited at 2016-04-15 08:09 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 09:21 pm (UTC)
I could never be a doctor and deal with death all the time. I guess it takes a certain personality type to be able to look family members in the eyes and let them know their loved one will soon be dead, and it's amazing how accurate they are sometimes with the time frame in which the person will pass. Of course, doctors also save lives and there's reward in that. Maybe this help counterbalance everything, or they are just able to just see a body as a specimen or experiment of some sort, on which they can work their skills. I actually don't know any doctors personally, so I've never had an opportunity to discuss such things with one.
irisha8787
Apr. 15th, 2016 08:28 pm (UTC)
"I truly believe the energy we project in life, is the energy that is returned to us." - them I am doomed.
Sometimes I am a bitch and such an evil, hate that about myself. And it is interesting, because I say stuff, and then realize, what a bitch I am for saying this, but it seems like i can't help myself.

Never had to take care of anyone dying, but had to take care of disabled kid and it was heartbreaking. she is my sister and looking at her and knowing that she will never graduate, or speak, or talk like a human - it is very hard.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 09:26 pm (UTC)
It's good that you can at least recognize your flaws, as most people cannot. :) And who are you saying these bitchy things to? Your spouse, friends, relatives, or strangers? There are many people in life who behave as assholes and jerks (not saying you're one of them), and they still have tons of success, living far into old age. Then there are others who are wonderful humanitarians and keel over dead at 30. So, maybe you will not be doomed after all. :) Life's unfair sometimes. And we can do nothing to change this fact.
nguryev
Apr. 15th, 2016 08:55 pm (UTC)
My course-mate died 2 week ago due to cancer. He was 40.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 15th, 2016 09:27 pm (UTC)
Sure, unfortunately most people know someone who has died of cancer, or is currently fighting it. Sad to die so young.
kremlin_curant
Apr. 16th, 2016 08:57 am (UTC)
This is my main job to do with extremely sometimes terminally ill people. I would felt a lot of compassionate feeling toward them if not their behavior, most of them are very nasty and aggressive toward the care giving staff of the Hospital.
Recently I was hit in my stomach by the foot of the 102 y.o. female patient during the sonogram test I gave her. It was really painful because I never expect such type an action.
The nurse who saw it told me to call the hospital police and sue the patient. (probable because the patient did so or try to do the same many times) But I refused. Not for me to sue the very sick 102th.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 16th, 2016 04:24 pm (UTC)
I think you must be a very patient man to have such a job! You don't ever get emotionally attached to any of your patients? I mean, have you ever cried when one of them died? Or, it's just a job and you're able to distance yourself from the person and just perform your nursing duties?
(no subject) - kremlin_curant - Apr. 17th, 2016 02:20 am (UTC) - Expand
pasha1980
Apr. 16th, 2016 08:22 pm (UTC)
I recently came across an Austrian doctor who had invented a diet that has allegedly helped thousands of people to beat cancer. His premise is that cancer cells need protein to grow. His 41-day diet consists only of plant juices that give all the necessary nutrition to the body but starve cancer cells. His name is Rudolf Breuss. You may be interested in mentioning it to your relatives.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 17th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks, but I doubt she will be interested in any type of alternative therapies, unfortunately. Hope all is well! :)
(no subject) - pasha1980 - Apr. 17th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
saccovanzetti
Apr. 19th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
As Alexander Pushkin famously said in Eugene Onegin (perhaps the most famous Russian novel in verse, and opera) opening, some 200 years ago:

“Мой дядя самых честных правил,
Когда не в шутку занемог,
Он уважать себя заставил -
И лучше выдумать не мог;
Его пример другим наука,
Но, Боже мой, какая скука
С больным сидеть и день, и ночь,
Не отходя ни шагу прочь!
Какое низкое коварство
Полуживого забавлять,
Ему подушки поправлять,
Печально подносить лекарство,
Вздыхать и думать про себя:
Когда же чёрт возьмёт тебя!”

Nabokov's translation (not the most poetic, but very literal - try to read the original if you can):
My uncle has most honest principles:
when taken ill in earnest,
he has made one respect him
and nothing better could invent.
To others his example is a lesson;
but, good God, what a bore
to sit by a sick man both day and night,
without moving a step away!
What base perfidiousness
the half-alive one to amuse,
adjust for him the pillows,
sadly present the medicine,
sigh - and think inwardly
when will the devil take you?
peacetraveler22
Apr. 19th, 2016 06:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing, I've never seen this Pushkin verse.
( 46 comments — Leave a comment )

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