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Old 09-24-2012, 05:59 PM   #1
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how would react if parent said they want to die?

Ok, my mom79 has had 2 close calls the past month: she had emergency surgery to remove dead intestine then contracted c diff. So recoveri7ng from both she seems to be rwcovering slowly. A little over a week ago, c diff strikes again and she is sent to er from her rehab. Her blood pressure top number was 82 , high pulse high fever. Her bp is now back up but she contracted thrush and recovering from that as well,which has made it hard for her to eat. Today she voiced that she wants to die and I didn't know what to say. I know she is weak and tired and been through a lot this past month. I have a relative who thinks I should "give" her the will to live somehow.thanks for reading this. Any advice would be greatly apppreciated.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:09 PM   #2
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My initial reaction is to be supportive of whatever mental state they are in. I'd ask pointed questions like "are you sure or are you just saying this because you feel so bad right now?" IMO, we want people to stay alive for our own selfish reasons. This is totally a human response. My grandfather died 1 month after my grandma went. He wanted to. He was absolutely sure. He went in his sleep at a nursing home. I was sad for me, but happy for him. It's a tough distinction to make as a compassionate human being.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:12 PM   #3
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I don't know how I would react or what I would say in such a situation. I really don't. You want to think life is always going to go on as it is and your parents, relatives, family and friends will always be there. So when someone close to you says they want to go it creates havoc with your framework of reality. I guess it's also a reminder that eventually these people will die, of course you don't want to think of that (who does?). Wow, that's a really tough one. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my MIL one time. Someone we both knew was getting older and their health was failing and it seemed they had lost the will to live. I asked my MIL what could make someone do that and she said that when you've lived as long as she has (my MIL is in her 70's) that you get tired, tired of the battle, tired of struggling, tired of problems, you just get tired. She kind of understood what our friend was going through, but said she wasn't so tired that she was ready to give up, but that she can understand why older people do give up. They're too old to continue the fight. But what to say to someone in that position....I don't know.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:13 PM   #4
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That's a tough one... because of course if she doesn't want to be revived in the event of 'an emergency' she can file a DNR, because that's her medical right. I don't know what I'd say. My mom died several years ago after a two month hospital stay. When she'd talk about not knowing how she was going to get better enough to take care of everyone and knew she was dying, I just tried to be reassuring and supportive. Not condescending, but I'd just say things like "Let's not talk about that now, try to rest" and things along those lines. I don't think you can "will" someone to live, especially if they are really sick, but you can be reassuring. I remember my mom was worried about who'd look out for my brother (who was in his 40's at that point, but divorced) and I know it helped her to know that I'd always be there for all my sibs.

I remember the year we got the Christmas letter from my great Aunt; it was clear that, while she cherished life and wouldn't harm herself, she was ready if her time came soon. She was in her early 80's, and while it stressed the rest of the family, it was clear that she'd made peace with herself and her god and was "ready." She said she'd lived a good life, a long life, but that she was tired and missed her husband and friends and was ready to go when it was her time. Her time didn't come for another 12 years, and while I know she happily enjoyed every day, they were long years, and hard ones, watching family and friends pass away. When she passed away, her health declined very rapidly, within a matter of about a week and then she was gone. We were sad, but we knew she was ready, and left this life with no regrets.

I think all you can do is be reassuring and supportive, and play it by ear. Good luck... it's never easy when a parent ages.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:15 PM   #5
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Some people just get to the point that they're tired of dealing with health issues or regret health decisions they made. My grandfather regretted the last stomach cancer surgery he had. It only supposedly extended his life a few months, but he wasn't really strong and it didn't improve his quality of life and probably didnt' really extend his life either. It's not that unusual in elderly people with health problems. A lot feel they've lived their life and are ready to "go". You can't make someone have the will to live. You certainly can't force it. You can however see if she wants to talk to a professional. She could be depressed from all her health issues.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:27 PM   #6
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What is her prognosis? Assuming it's decent, has a medical person she trusts sat down with her and told her what to expect, including that it may take months and include setbacks? Make sure this happens and that you are there. Get answers to all of your questions -- you may want to ask some of them without your mom present. Also, ask her nurses and doctors for advice for you. Don't hesitate to ask the primary care person on her case about sending in a counselor, too.

My dad also had emergency surgery to remove intestines (colon). He told us many times during his long recovery that he "wished we had let him die." I think he was mostly glad that we didn't once he got home. I suggested the counselor b/c that was beneficial to him when he had been in the hospital a long time and progress was very slow.

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Old 09-24-2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by hereyago View Post
Ok, my mom79 has had 2 close calls the past month: she had emergency surgery to remove dead intestine then contracted c diff. So recoveri7ng from both she seems to be rwcovering slowly. A little over a week ago, c diff strikes again and she is sent to er from her rehab. Her blood pressure top number was 82 , high pulse high fever. Her bp is now back up but she contracted thrush and recovering from that as well,which has made it hard for her to eat. Today she voiced that she wants to die and I didn't know what to say. I know she is weak and tired and been through a lot this past month. I have a relative who thinks I should "give" her the will to live somehow.thanks for reading this. Any advice would be greatly apppreciated.
I remember you posting about your mom. Sorry to hear she is struggling.

Right now she is feeling like crapola and tired of fighting her issues. The best thing you can do is touch. Give her a hug, hold her hand, and say something like I know it is hard right now but the we are doing what we can to get you better, I love you mom.

Or just hold her hand and say nothing.

Many hugs!
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:49 PM   #8
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I'm sorry, I have no advice but I hope things improve with your mom and that she starts feeling better physically & mentally. And I wish you strength through it no matter what happens.

I agree that when one gets older, they can feel tired & ready to go. Perhaps as she recovers more, she won't feel that way anymore. You can listen to her and try to be gently positive without totally dismissing her feelings about being ready.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:57 PM   #9
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As a health professional who sees patients like your mom in varying degrees of immobility, lack of dignity, and poor health I can empathize with her. My dad (83) has told us that when the time comes that he no longer wants to live, he has what he needs to take care of it. I personally wouldn't want to live anymore if my quality of life goes down the toilet. If your mom is a walkie-talkie usually, and this is just a hump she has to get over, then I would encourage her as much as you can.
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:20 PM   #10
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I hope you can get someone to talk to her and give her some facts. Unfortunately, if she doesn't want to work toward recovery, she won't do well. That must be hard to hear. I agree, on one hand, you don't want her in pain, but you may not be ready to have her gone.

Hang in there.

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Old 09-24-2012, 09:33 PM   #11
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:44 PM   #12
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If she has a living will, I'd suggest now is the time to get it out and go over it. People's state of mind can change over time since it was last discussed and follow her wishes. You don't want her to suffer should anything happen during recovery.

It's a fine line, but you have to remember that life is more than just breathing. Look at the quality of her life and what can happen in the future. She has come to her peace with death, whether it comes sooner than you'd expect.

As for the relatives, just tell them it's out of your hands. There's a beginning and end to all, and we can't hold off the ending for selfish reasoning. I'm sure you're already going through a mix of emotions at once, you don't need other's inputs on when your mom's time comes.
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:49 PM   #13
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Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience with this type od thing. I lost my DM (who was 79 as well) about 2.5 years ago, after she struggled with some chronic illnesses, which snowballed into other more acute conditions. She spent the last year and a half or so in and out of the hospital and nursing home. She also contracted c-diff, which she had until she passed. Like your mom, my mom had roller coaster blood pressure. She had some surgeries that had complications which led to infections and other treatments. In the end she was just tired.

She used to say to me "I know you don't want to hear this, but I can't do this any more. I'm going to take myself off dialysis." She was right, I didn't want to hear it. For a while I would just tell her that people with a lot of health issues often feel overwhelmed and depressed and although I understood that, we should wait until [insert crisis] was over and then talk about it, not make a decision we couldn't take back. I just tried to be understanding and rational, which calmed her down. We got through quite a few problems like that.

However, I knew the time she was serious and when it was time to help her. She was in the hospital for several weeks. In an out of intensive care because they couldn't regulate her blood pressure. When it was low it made her almost comotose and when it was high she had an incredible headache and her heart was beating out of her chest. She told me she wanted to stop everything, and just let nature take it's course. It broke my heart but I asked her if she was certain. Then I asked to see the doctor and she told him. Privately he explained to us (my sister, my DH and I were there at the time) what to expect. That night they disconnected and discontinued everything. She moved to a regular room and she saw and spoke to friends and family. A little more than 48 hours later she was gone. That's how fragile she was. She knew she couldn't take it any more.

You can't give anyone the will to live. But you can be there and listen and let them vent when they need to. Just try to be supportive and rational. Tell her you understand how frustrated and tired she is, but she needs to get through the crisis and reevaluate.

It's heartbreaking and we want our parents to live forever, but I think its a great gift we can give our elderly loved ones to just be there and try to be supportive even though it's not what we want to hear. I miss my mom every day, but I am thankful she took control and passed her own way on her own terms.

Good luck and pm me if you want to discuuss further.
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:50 PM   #14
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Is your mom religious? If so, maybe something like "mom, I know how hard this is and I'm praying that God in his ultimate wisdom will know when to call you home. Meanwhile, as long as he sees fit to have you on this earth I'm going to help you serve him to the best of your ability by getting better and enjoying the life he's given you."
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:01 PM   #15
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I think she sounds depressed. In the end you have to respect her wishes but I would encourage evaluation to help with the depression. Good luck to you guys.
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