Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Dying – helping your family

In my administrator’s site for the blog I can see the words people have typed into the various search engines to find this blog. So often I see words that relate to talking to the dying, what do you say to someone that is dying?

Well I have hear the words come out of my doctors mouth directed to me, “You are dying”. Words no one want to hear, but everyday many do hear them. It is just a fact of live, at some point everyone is going to die. We all know we are going to die at sometime, but prefer to keep it as something, we just don’t think about as it, will happen but only some time way way in the future. I do hope and pray, all live long and healthy lives.

As much as we may deny any thoughts of our own passing, there are still times when death will just jump up and smack us in the face. We will all have to face the passing of loved ones, be they family, friends, co-workers or neighbors. A time will come when we all have to face the final passing of someone we care about. Sadly, there will be times when it is by way of a tragic accident and we will have no time to say our good byes. Other times the passing will be slower as with an illness. At times such as this we do have a time in which we can visit, spend time with this person before they are gone from our lives forever. I think it would likely be safe to say, that we would want to be able to provide support for the person or at very least we certainly wouldn’t want to do or say anything to make them feel worse. So what can we say or do?

I have said many times I am not a doctor, not a member of the clergy, not a therapist, I am in fact just me. I can only share my thoughts and feelings as I have heard the “you are dying” words. I realize everyone is different, every situation is different, everyone’s reactions are different. I can share only mine. I look back and see that even within myself, my thoughts, feelings and “needs” were different at different times.

I in fact kept those words to myself for the first 6 months or so. My thoughts were I didn’t want to burden or worry my family. There was nothing they could do, so why cause them worry or grief before it became necessary. Carrying a secret like that inside proved to be more difficult than I imagined. I needed to vent, I needed to let it out, but to who? To vent and to let this out was one of the reasons for this blog. Initially, I was anonymous, being Hudds53. Ironically, it was through the blog that my “secret” was exposed and my family found out.

Prior to that, partially through my writing on the blog and the support I was receiving through many comments from readers. Two realizations came to me. The Good Lord for reasons known only to Himself was giving me some extra time. Time to prepare myself for what was to come. Time to prepare myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I had already survived 4 heart attacks, 2 of which were described as massive, open heart surgery and here I was still being granted more time to prepare. It came to me, The Good Lord was granting me this extra time but that I was denying my family and loved ones the benefit of the “preparation” time.

As I looked deeper with in, I came to realize there was also a more selfish reason for keeping “my secret”. My thoughts revolved around the fact that “I” was the one about to make this final journey. My thoughts and feeling revolved around “me” and what I needed and wanted. I suppose it was sort of like, “hey, I am the one that has been told is dying, shouldn’t the world revolve around me and my thoughts and wants at this time”. I envisioned with dread the idea of spending my last days surrounded by crying, grieving loved ones. I have long felt it is harder on the families than it is on the patient or at least I know that to be true in my case.

I realized with my belief system in place, I am not afraid of what is facing me. I admit to being a little nervous about the actual transition from this world to the next. That being just because I am an admitted wimp when it comes to pain. I wonder can I use some of my “prep time” to help them with “their prep time” and help them to prepare for what we all know is to come or at very least not to make it harder or worse for them.

The day is approaching when I will move on. I will be fine, in fact I will be far past being fine, I will be in the most wonderful of all places. It is my loved ones that will be left behind to face the pain, the sense of loss, the grief. It does seem so unfair, I will be surrounded by and filled with so much love, peace and serenity, beyond my imagination and they will be left behind with pain and grief. It is in fact so unfair that I want to do what ever I can to help them through what we know will be a difficult time. But how?

I am sure anyone with proper training and experience could give a list of hundreds of ways. Well I don’t have that training so I can only give a few of the ways that sort of jump out at me through what I have experienced.

Hearing those words are something no one wants, ever. To say it really sucks when you do hear them is such an understatement. It did take me a while to get past the thought that “this is happening to me and sure while you may be hurting for a little bit, you will with time get over it and will STILL BE ALIVE, I AM THE ONE THAT IS GOING TO BE DEAD”!!!!!! Through Prayer and meditation I can to see that in my case at least, my family does have it much worse than I do. They know what is coming just as I do, but are forced to just sit on the side line and helplessly watch and wait. The feeling of helplessness has to be one of the worst feelings in the world, so badly wanting to do something anything but knowing you are helpless to really do anything. Let’s just take one of my rush trips to the hospital as an example. Usually, with in minutes of arriving I am pumped full of medications. Pain and discomfort if usually relatively quickly gone and I am in a drug induced calm and tranquil state. Not so with the family as they are forced to helplessly sit by watching and waiting. Often out in the waiting room, waiting as the doctors do their stuff. So much harder than what I am going through.

I wish I had some sort of magic wand or something I could just wave and all of their fears and worry would be gone. What do I have, really nothing but words and attitude with which I can try to comfort them and help them prepare for what is coming.

Maybe attitude is the most important. I think, I hope that by clearly showing I am not afraid of what is to come, may provide an element of comfort. I believe that by showing I am “OK” with the situation, it may ease their worry level or at least not add to it. For me it goes beyond that to what sort of last memories do I want my family to carry of me. If I allow my thoughts to remain centered solely on my self and my condition, it could be easy to slip into and angry bitter thought process.  I was 53 years old when I heard those words “now how unfair is that, to hear those words at such a young age.” I could allow myself to become angry, bitter, mad at the world and lash out at anyone and everyone that comes near me. Realistically, what would that accomplish besides making my days miserable and making the lives of everyone around me miserable. Medically, it isn’t going to change anything or if it does it very well may shorten my life span through all the stress I would be bring on myself. If I became that person, think of the final memories I am leaving behind. That is not the way I want to be remembered, I imagine not the way anyone wants to be remembered. Attitude can determine your actions and actions do speak louder than words.

That doesn’t mean that words are not important. I must talk about and express my thoughts and feelings, get it all out so to speak. But at the same time i have to realize, just because of my health, I shouldn’t be expecting the world to suddenly be revolving around me. I am in fact not the only one going through this. My family, my friends everyone is going through it with me. Granted, when I make that final big step, I will do it alone. But in the journey up to that point, we share the journey. I need to recognize and accept that everyone deals with this sort of situation in their own individual way. I love my family and do want to help them as I always have. This in fact may be the last chance I get to help them in any meaningful way. I need to be willing to listen to them as they may share their feelings, their thoughts, fears, what ever. I need to be and I am open to talk.

As so often seems to happen, I sat down with I suppose an agenda in mind and have seemingly wandered off topic, which was to be talking to the dying. Getting tired so will try to get to that tomorrow.


5 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Dying – helping your family

  1. a good day says:

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  2. Hi Bill,

    I’ve come close to where you are.

    I understand.

    Please keep in touch.

    Laurie Kendrick

    Hi Laurie, welcome to the site, I thank you for the visit and the comment. Please stop by again.

  3. lymeaway says:

    Hey Bill, thank you so much for your kind words on my site…gosh it sounds like you as well have been through some trying times. Its funny how you talk about the guilt we feel as people with illness, I feel that immensly lately, more so than the pain. Its hard to watch loved ones around you suffer. I’m never sure what to say to someone who is dying, I had a friend die from Cancer..I think if your there for that person to just listen, laugh, or just give them a hug it helps..what do you think?

    P.S You have a wonderful spirit as well and I think your teaching many others good things about life by having this blog, not to mention it really does feel good to vent on here dosen’t it? KIT My friend


    Hi Ali, welcome and thank you for stopping by. What can you say to a dying person is a question many have on their mind. I think you are right about the listen, laugh and give a lot of hugs. Just your presence, your being there for them often speaks louder than any words. Often a degree of “normalcy” is needed in what can be a chaotic time. Just a regular chat can take your mind away from so much and be so appreciated.
    Blogging, journaling is a great way to vent, get feelings out and so often clarify your own thinking while you are doing it.
    Please stop by again. I have to ask KIT???

  4. babychaos says:

    Enlightened stuff. For what it’s worth, I think the strength and dignity with which you are facing your predicament must bring a great deal of comfort to your friends and family and must also give them strength, too. It’s interesting what you say about your family having it much worse. In some ways this is true but in others it means that the strength really does have to come from you. I caught a small glimpse of this a while back when I had a miscarriage. I just wanted to be able to mention it now and again but when I did, people were so upset for me that I had to kind of comfort them. I can imagine this is a smilar thing and some.

    My aunt died a while back. She chose not to tell her family. I am pretty sure this was partly a kind of suffering servant thing, that she believed she should suffer for them and partly because she believed it was the kindest thing, that she’d just be carried off one night and that would be it. It wasn’t and they were certainly thrown by not being able to prepare but also hurt, I think, even though they tried not to be, because they saw it as almost a betrayal.

    It seems to me that one of the brilliant things you are doing, in giving your family time to prepare, in being honest and open with them and levelling with them about the way you feel, is allowing your relationships with each other to develop and deepen. Who knows how much time there is, what counts is that it’s quality time, that they will remember long long after you are gone. Maybe that’s why you’ve been given some extra time. Because you are using it so constructively and you all deserve it.

    Take care you.



    Hi BC. I thank you for your kind comments. I was looking back over the comments I have received since I started this blog and there you were almost at the very beginning. I can’t thank you enough for your continued support. I can’t wait to read about the wonderful event about to take place in your life. Having a baby will be such a blessing in your life. I just hope for your sake the labor isn’t to long or hard. Please let me know.

  5. Rose Rodgers says:

    Bill: Thank you so much for the information. Bless your heart and soul. Before reading your thoughts, I did not know what to think anymore. My uncle Marty has been diagnoised with terminal cancer. He came to live with me to take care of me, after my daughter was murdered. He saved my life, along with my many dogs. Since he has become ill, he is now pretty much bedridden, he is very angry towards me. He has lashed out physically once, and constantly verbally abuses me. I try so hard to help him. I love him and do not want him to suffer. I know he is going to die, even though sometime I think, he is going to get better, I know he is not. I want to be of comfort to him. There is nothing I would not do to assist him in his care. I had to call Hospice, as he was becoming so ill. He has not eaten food in two months. He has lost at least 80 pounds, down to about 130. The doctors tell you nothing. I have found no support groups. There must be some, as obviously, I am not the only person losing someone they love. He states he hates me, that his pain is my fault, that he does not want my help, that he does not want to look at me or hear my voice. Why is he doing this when time is so short. Why are we not remembering the good times and thanking each other for having the privilege of being in their life. Why can’t we say “Thank you for being there”. The things go on, why I could be thanking this person for saving my life. I don’t understand the anger directed at me. Why. I have faith that I will see him again. I have faith that he will see my daughter in heaven. He has no faith. Will things change? Or, will be just dile one night, all alone, with no one to say, goodbye, I love you? One more thing, uncle Marty has never been an easy man to get along with, but not mean. I guess the question is, why when we were all each of us had, does he tell me he hates me, yells at me, and tells everyone, even his nurses, that his having cancer and pain is my fault I am getting desperate. Please give me your thoughts

    Bless you and I will pray for you and your family.


    Hi Rose. First may I offer my condolences at the tragic loss of your daughter, in what has to be every parents worst night mare.
    I am also sorry to hear of your uncles poor health.
    You have such a complicated and tragic situation going on. I feel really under qualified to post any sort of response. I remind you I am not a doctor, a clergy man or any sort of therapist. I am just a man sharing my own thoughts.
    I believe death is something each of us will face in our own individual and very personal way. Even just thinking about it is so scary to many that they just avoid it all together until hit jumps up and bites them.
    Based on what I read in your comment, it sound like your uncle is full of fear at what is awaiting him. When consumed by fear, all of us can act in ways that are beyond our normal character. When he lashes out at you both physically and emotionally I am sure it is the fear speaking and not his heart. You ask will he ever change? I hope so, I pray so but ultimately that is up to him. We can’t make anyone change. He is living his reality as he sees it now as sad as that may be for others to see. Have you thought of inviting a minister or priest to visit and just talk with him? Do you have other family that can step in even temporarily to take some of the burden off or your shoulders? Have you turned fully to hospice for all the services and help they can provide? I should qualify that comment I suppose. I don’t know where you live, but here in Winnipeg, hospice has volunteer home visits. Someone will come directly into your home to just visit and take to you as a form of support. If you let me know the general area in which you live I can try to find resources that may be available to you. You are carrying to much of a burden to try and do it all alone. Hospice also has a wonderful web site that contains such a wealth of information that my help you both. Please check it out
    Bless you kind heart for being there to care for him as you are and for putting up with all that you are.
    You have asked for my thoughts well here they are. This is what I have told my own family are my wishes should I have a stroke or what ever and become more incapacitated.
    I have told my family I do not ever want to be a burden on any of them. Dying is something we will each do in turn and just because my turn may be approaching really give me not right to expect more of them. I have to recognize and accept they have their own lives to live as well. Oh, for sure I hope for visits etc and even more time to just be together. I can’t expect everyone to suddenly change their entire lives to suit me. I can’t expect it and frankly don’t want it. I take personal comfort in being able to see they are fully capable of making on their own.
    I have I hope made it clear to all. If I become a burden, put me in a home or in the hospital. I know for many this goes against their beliefs that family should be cared for at home. That being at home is the best place for them.
    Rose, you uncles situation is sad, it is tragic. There is no denying that. Rose you have to remember, as sad as it may be, it is his situation. That he is having great difficulty dealing with it is understandable. Rose you have to take care of yourself also, nothing gives him the right to lash out at you as he is, either emotionally or physically. Irregardless of anything he is still responsible for his actions and behavior nothing changes that.
    Rose, if I was speaking to one of my daughters about a situation like this I would suggest just walking away. It sounds like you have been going through this for quite a while and have gone well beyond what can be expected of anyone. Walking away may be difficult, but you have to think of yourself in the long run and how is all this abuse affecting you. There is also another important factor to consider in all of this. Your uncle’s basic well being. Please don’t take this next comment the wrong way. But I have to ask, at this point in his illness, are you able to minister to his needs, especially considering his antagonistic attitude? Try and take the emotions out of the equation, would he be better off in a hospital or care home?
    I hope you will stay in touch.
    You are in my heart, thoughts and prayers

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