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Seeing someone who's dying

TubeTube Registered User admin
edited October 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
A close friend of mine is dying in hospital, has maybe two days left, and I wanted to go and see him. His wife has just told me however, that he won't recognise me, can't speak, and looks old and frail. She said to think about whether that's how I want to remember him. I'm not sure.

Thoughts?

Tube on
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Posts

  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I'll just say that I'm happy I went to visit my grandmother in the hospital a couple months before she finally passed.. by that point she was in pretty late stages of alzheimers-like symptoms, so she hasn't recognized us for years, but it was still worth it to say goodbye

    best wishes whatever you decide, it always sucks no matter what

    Gdiguy on
  • JimmyJimmy __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    If roles were reversed, what do you think he would do?

    In the end if you dont go, he wont know anyway, but being that you are close friends his spirit will understand the fact of why you didn't. However, if you can deal with seeing him in that condition, I would do it.

    Jimmy on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    Its going to be pretty confronting if you haven't seen him since he was relatively healthy. My great-aunt went that way after her final stroke, and the sudden change... eh, not cool. He may still be able to sense you a bit, but without knowing what's wrong I couldn't say. Also, the surroundings can be even more depressing if they're not in a private room.

    Would you regret not going more?

    The Cat on
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  • DekuStickDekuStick Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    If you can handle it, go.

    This doesn't really mean much coming from a forumer here but I wish you would go.

    DekuStick on
  • Battle JesusBattle Jesus Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    You won't remember him as the frail person in a hospital bed, unless you've only known him for a day or two. It'll help with grieving and closure if you go see him, too.

    So, uh. Go see him.

    Battle Jesus on
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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    Also, it'd probably mean a lot to his wife.

    The Cat on
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  • KamiKami Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I can definitely relate to your situation, Tube, and first off, my thoughts are with you and the family involved.

    I would personally go and see your friend, simply for a point of 'closure', so to speak. It will be very hard to see your friend in such a state, but it would probably mean the world to him if you met with him again.

    As they say, though, death is only easy for the person dying.

    Kami on
  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Also, it'd probably mean a lot to his wife.

    To be honest, the impression is that while I'm welcome, she'd rather I didn't.

    Tube on
  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    Jimmy wrote: »
    If roles were reversed, what do you think he would do?

    Good point.

    Tube on
  • Battle JesusBattle Jesus Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Also, it'd probably mean a lot to his wife.

    To be honest, the impression is that while I'm welcome, she'd rather I didn't.

    But you're not going to see his wife, you're going to see your friend who is dying. Odds are pretty good that he'd like you to be around while he's on his deathbed.

    Battle Jesus on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Seattle ThreadSeattle Thread Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    You should go, if only to say goodbye for yourself. I had two family members die this year, and both times I'm glad I had the chance to say goodbye towards the end, even if they couldn't acknowledge that I was there.

    You won't remember him as a frail, bed-ridden old man, either. It sounds like she doesn't want you to see him for whatever reason, and she's making excuses.

    Seattle Thread on
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  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Dongpuller wrote: »
    You should go, if only to say goodbye for yourself. I had two family members die this year, and both times I'm glad I had the chance to say goodbye towards the end, even if they couldn't acknowledge that I was there.

    And speaking as someone that's had two family members die and not been able to see them before they went, I can tell you that it's one of those things that'll nag you in the back of your mind years later. I strongly advise going.

    Steel Angel on
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  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Went through this exact situation about a year ago. My friend and I had known this person for about 10 years and he was in very bad shape. Literally physically unrecognizable. His wife said that we shouldn't come, that he was in bad shape, etc. We came anyway, along with many other friends and family members. It was like a little party, all there, all together, all knowing what was going to happen but making the best of it. We stayed just a couple of hours. Telling stories, catching up, making what we could of the time we had. We all got to help move him from his bedroom to a hospital-style bed they had brought in, which would have been impossible if it were just his wife.

    Although he was deeply out of it and hadn't said anything intelligible for days, he was apparently aware of what was going on. He laughed a little once or twice and his wife told us later that as everyone left he called out for everyone by name. Lost him the next day.

    There's never one good answer to this. I was not at all worried about how I would remember my friend. I remember him the way he was. I cannot forget the transformation he went through because it was shocking, but that does not diminish the 10 years of memories I have in any way. We did not go to fulfill some personal need, we went to be supportive and to help. If we had in any way felt that we could not do this, we would have left.

    My advice would be to go with two caveats. 1) only go if you can see your friend as you always have; if you can't deal with the reality of the situation, don't make things worse. 2) Go for him and his wife and his family, don't go for yourself. If, for whatever reason, you feel like it would be best if you left, then leave happily and know that you did what you could.

    DrFrylock on
  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    I have a follow up question: is there any reason why I might not be allowed to take a guitar into the hospital? I mean they're covered with dead skin and dirt and stuff.

    Tube on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    I have a follow up question: is there any reason why I might not be allowed to take a guitar into the hospital? I mean they're covered with dead skin and dirt and stuff.

    So are people. you may run afoul of a nurse, but explaining why you're there ought to give you a pass unless they're total assholes.

    The Cat on
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  • Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I have a follow up question: is there any reason why I might not be allowed to take a guitar into the hospital? I mean they're covered with dead skin and dirt and stuff.

    They should be cool with it, but it would be easier to ring up and check before hand. In terms of cleanliness I mean as long as you aren't covered in mud they let people into hospitals.

    Really it's closure for you and if you can do anything to make his last moments on this planet better for him it's not much effort from you.

    Blake T on
  • Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    Went through this exact situation about a year ago. My friend and I had known this person for about 10 years and he was in very bad shape. Literally physically unrecognizable. His wife said that we shouldn't come, that he was in bad shape, etc. We came anyway, along with many other friends and family members. It was like a little party, all there, all together, all knowing what was going to happen but making the best of it. We stayed just a couple of hours. Telling stories, catching up, making what we could of the time we had. We all got to help move him from his bedroom to a hospital-style bed they had brought in, which would have been impossible if it were just his wife.

    Although he was deeply out of it and hadn't said anything intelligible for days, he was apparently aware of what was going on. He laughed a little once or twice and his wife told us later that as everyone left he called out for everyone by name. Lost him the next day.

    There's never one good answer to this. I was not at all worried about how I would remember my friend. I remember him the way he was. I cannot forget the transformation he went through because it was shocking, but that does not diminish the 10 years of memories I have in any way. We did not go to fulfill some personal need, we went to be supportive and to help. If we had in any way felt that we could not do this, we would have left.

    My advice would be to go with two caveats. 1) only go if you can see your friend as you always have; if you can't deal with the reality of the situation, don't make things worse. 2) Go for him and his wife and his family, don't go for yourself. If, for whatever reason, you feel like it would be best if you left, then leave happily and know that you did what you could.

    Also many people tend to hold on just to see their friends and loved ones one last time. There was a farmer I know that went to visit his grandmother who had been fairly sick for a while and he hadn't seen her for 5 months he finally go time to see her and she died not 6 hours after seeing him.

    Blake T on
  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I have a follow up question: is there any reason why I might not be allowed to take a guitar into the hospital? I mean they're covered with dead skin and dirt and stuff.

    This depends 100% on the circumstance and the nursing staff there at the time. They might be concerned about the noise level (especially if it's a shared room), or that you'll whip it around and catch a cord or an IV tube with the neck. Hospital rooms can be crowded with equipment, people, and stuff, and a big guitar might not be welcome. If he's in ICU, then it might be touchier.

    On the other hand, many care professionals can be appreciative of the effort as long as it's not disruptive and will be supportive. I've been in with family members where a strict nurse will strictly enforce the "1 visitor at a time" policy and where another will say "the more support, the better!" Always do your best to let the care staff do their jobs, which means being out of the way when they're in to do their thing.

    So, there's a chance it will be OK and a chance that it won't. Bring it with you, but ask the duty nurse on his ward before you actually bring it in.

    DrFrylock on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    As much as you are going to visit your friend, you're also going to support his wife (assuming she is also your friend as well). She might be adamant that she doesn't want you to see her husband in his current condition, but if he's that bad do you want her having to deal with it by herself?
    I have a follow up question: is there any reason why I might not be allowed to take a guitar into the hospital? I mean they're covered with dead skin and dirt and stuff.

    This, I don't know if I'd bother with. Hospitals in the UK are ridiculous with sterility and isolation what with all the superbugs kicking about at the moment. Can you sing?

    Also, i don't know how out of it your friend is, but when my gran was in hospital the thing she wanted most was to hear news form the outside. Just stuff like what we were up to and stuff. She didn't want us sitting there pitying her, she wanted to take her mind off being inside the hospital. Even if he can't respond but is at least conscious of your presence hearing about crap like your students' boyfriend troubles and general shoot the shit stuff will probably be good stuff.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    Man fuck singing, I just want to play him some quiet jazz. He never heard me play.

    Tube on
  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    I mean I would like to disavow anyone from the notion that I am going to take a whacking great acoustic in there and play wonderwall.

    Tube on
  • FalxFalx Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    While he might not recognize you, it's possible he will be able to sense your love for him. I assure you that little bit will make it easier. To put it frankly, you're already losing a friend. Going to say goodbye won't lose you anything more.

    However, you might want to ask his wife if she would prefer to be alone with him when it happens, if I had to guess, I would say that's why she said what she said.

    Also, for what it's worth, I'm sorry. And you sound like a good friend.

    Falx on
  • virgilsammsvirgilsamms Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Yes, take your guitar - worst case they make you leave it at reception. And yes, go visit, having a chance to say goodbye is great. It might be scary and weird, especially if it's the first time for you but forget all that, death is just a part of life. It's totally natural and being a part of it is an important time in your friendship and for the grieving process afterwards.

    virgilsamms on
  • Mr_GrinchMr_Grinch Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    A guitar should be fine. A friend of mine (only 21) was taken suddenly ill with myocarditis (an inflammation of his heart muscles) in January of this year and rapidly went down hill to the point he didn't recognise anyone/couldn't speak. People took in all sorts when they went to see him (never a guitar but a guitar should be no different to stuffed animals etc). They also played him some music at one point.

    On the subject of if to go or not, I was glad I went to see him the day he died. He was in a terrible state, with tubes everywhere and he didn't respond to anything I said but there's something nice about seeing him one last time before the end. Just to say what I wanted to say in case he could understand/hear me.

    If I were you, I'd do it. If you don't go, I think you'll regret it.

    Mr_Grinch on
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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    Man fuck singing, I just want to play him some quiet jazz. He never heard me play.

    Ok, but take a CD as a back up why not.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    They won't disallow a guitar unless he is on isolation precautions for some degree of immune system loss. Even if he is, if this is near the end then you can probably talk to your nurse and get something done (we're a sappy bunch). I can't think of any other situation that it would be not allowed, and even then you can ask for some Cavi-Wipes (big alcohol wipes) we use to clean the guitar before and after if he is on airborne precuations or something.

    I've seen a lot of death at the ICU I work at - at least a lot more than I thought I ever would. I've never had anyone say they regret coming to see their loved one. It's a time for quite reflection I do believe it helps with grieving.

    I'm sorry for your loss, Tube.

    MegaMan001 on
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  • brandotheninjamasterbrandotheninjamaster Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Thats a really rough deal, I'm sorry to hear about your friend...I'm going to jump on the go see your friend bandwagon. I think that if you went to see him, it would bring closure. Not saying goodbye to someone your very close too can really plague you. My uncle got brain cancer a few years back, my mother wouldn't let me say goodbye because she didn't want me to see him in that condition. I still to this day regret not protesting her decision.

    There was also another time when my aunt kicked me out of her house on christmas eve, because my stepson is half black. After all the hoopla that night my great grandmother broke her hip and died within a week. Once again I couldn't say goodbye or even go to the funeral, because that section of family blamed me for bringing my son to meet her (of course I know better, my G Grandmother had a big heart and wanted meet him). I had to visit her grave about 1 week after the funeral to finally pay my respects.

    The whole point I'm trying to make is: loose ends are never a good thing. Go there, see your friend, tell him goodbye. Don't let this plague you for the rest of your life. Don't worry about the last memories, because your friend is always going to have a special place in your heart.

    brandotheninjamaster on
  • Butterfly4uButterfly4u Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I meet families every so often that have gotten to the nursing home a few minutes too late. The thing that upsets me the most in my line of work is knowing someone died alone. On the other hand, I did't go see my grandma before she died due to money problems. Her death was unexpected, but it was easier for me to deal with it having not seen her for awhile.

    Butterfly4u on
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  • SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!! Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Would you regret not going more?

    This is what I came here to say. I would like to think that my close friends would visit me on my deathbed regardless of my physical appearance and mental status.

    Besides, regardless of his condition, it's up to you how you remember him. You can see a person at their worst but still remember them for their best.

    SeñorAmor on
  • UnderdogUnderdog Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    My uncle deteriorated pretty badly by the end of his cancer. My last memories of him are not pretty. But that was the reality of it. He WAS in bad shape. And to pretend that he wasn't, to sit and just think about how he used to look/act/sound when he was healthy, well that's not reality. I can still see him in the hospital, just as I can see him bustling around the kitchen, making his famous prime rib for the family. It was painful to watch him die but I wouldn't have decided to do otherwise if given the chance.

    Underdog on
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    A close friend of mine is dying in hospital, has maybe two days left, and I wanted to go and see him. His wife has just told me however, that he won't recognise me, can't speak, and looks old and frail. She said to think about whether that's how I want to remember him. I'm not sure.

    Thoughts?

    In my experience, that's a bullshit excuse by people that are too afraid to be around dying people. My grandfather, after five months of cancer was the same way, but you know how I remember him? Fat, happy, and telling stories that everybody has already heard a dozen times.

    Go see your friend.

    Bionic Monkey on
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  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I didn't go see my psudo-aunt when she was dying of cancer... I made all kinds of excuses but really I was just scared of seeing her like that.

    It could be one of the worst decisions I've ever made, something I regret deeply now, like 7 years later.

    Sentry on
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  • amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    That's a really tough situation Tube, and I'm sorry to hear it. I've had a few family members pass from Cancer and it was the same in the end for them. It's really up to what's in your heart as to what you want to do, but as far as advice goes, I've done both. I've stayed back and I've been there when they couldn't recognize me. I felt a lot better personally by being there, because weather or not my family member could recognize me I knew I was there to support them. It's a hard decision though, and I hope everything goes as peacefully as possible.

    amateurhour on
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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I work in a hospital and deal with families who have relatives in pretty bad shape going to surgery. Personally I encourage them to do whatever the hell makes them feel better as long as it doesn't bother another patient.

    In ICU people get private rooms, this is almost universal as the nursing ratios are regulated based on the condition of the person being cared for. Thus, in ICU it's one nurse for every 2 people (or 3, depending on your state). Most of the time, these are nurses who have seen it all and wont care if you come and enjoy spending some time with your friend.

    Hospital rooms do have doors, and most of the time you're welcome to close them. I can't honestly see some quiet jazz bothering a single person there. In fact, a lot of people in hospitals appreciate anything at all that shows there are people out there who care. Total strangers will sit together and talk in waiting rooms and such.

    Your best bet would be to find out his room, figure out when you plan on going, calling the floor and asking who is on staff to cover your friend, and then asking that person directly.

    I am sorry about your friend, but even if he doesn't know who you are, he can know you're someone who cares.

    Edit: I also agree with the above that seeing your friend is a good idea.

    dispatch.o on
  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Wykkie wrote: »
    You won't remember him as the frail person in a hospital bed, unless you've only known him for a day or two. It'll help with grieving and closure if you go see him, too.

    So, uh. Go see him.

    I agree with this. I don't think of my dad in the state he was in when he died, but as he was before he got really sick.

    Corvus on
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  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    Well I went and it was not so bad. He couldn't really respond to me and it wasn't always clear if he knew I was there, but I was talking about my driving test and said I was "confident. well, more arrogant really" and he raised eyebrow and I knew he'd hear me. I said goodbye and stuff. It was nice.

    Tube on
  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    and he passed away basically as I wrote that post

    Tube on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    :^:

    edit: *facepalm* not to the second post...

    The Cat on
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  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited October 2007
    Way to go the cat

    Tube on
  • ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I know it means nothing but I am glad you went Tube. And I am very sorry for the loss.

    Shogun on
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