Dying Man’s Daily Journal -Visiting and talking to the dying

I have written of how Vi’s mum has been hospitalized, released and then back to the hospital. In a family meeting with her doctor it was learned the prognosis is not all that good and her time left may be as short as a couple of months. Heart attacks, suspected lung cancer have just take their toll on her 86-year-old body. I ask for prayers for Nellie. The strange thing is I am not sure if I am asking for her recover or for a pain-free peaceful passing. Her quality of life is none existent. Family are caring for her and doing the very best they can but there just reaches a point where even that is just not enough.

I visit Nellie every day and I go alone for about an hour. It gives me some one on one time just to talk to her besides that if I go with Vi the visit can easily turn into even 5 or 6 hours and I jut don’t have the energy for that. We just sit and chat, i usually hold her hand. Well actually since she is quite deaf, she talks and I yell to be heard.

I am going to be doing a few posts on the different reactions I see from many anonymously of course. Avoidance seems to be a big one. I feel it a privilege to be able to spend the time with her. The big question seems to be what do you say to a dying person? I don’t know of anything special to say. I visit, and I talk to Nellie th same way i would have before her hospitalization. I mean she is still Nellie is she not


6 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal -Visiting and talking to the dying

  1. Trick Brown says:

    I have been fortunate to not have seen a lot of death in my life time. However, my fencing instructor was one of my best friends back in my early 20’s. She died of Lymphoma when she was 61. In her final three months, I helped take care of her in her house along with her family. I know I did my best to help her and be there for her, but like a young man I feared the situation and tended to avoid her at times.

    For a long time I considered that hesitation a youthful regret until I decided to take away a positive from her passing. She taught me one last thing before she died and that was to not be afraid of being near someone who is dying.

    I’m turning 40 this year, and I know (hopefully slowly) more of my family and friends will eventually pass on, but I feel better equipped to handle the future.

  2. Noel says:

    I had a recent experience with my dead uncle. He passed away about two months ago. I spent a few times with him alone. He died of lung cancer. I visited him at the hospital, and a couple of more times at his house before he passed. I too did not know what else to talk about. But I do remember one time he asked me “Am I dying?” and I did not know what to day (by the way, I have a recent post about this exact experience). But then I thought I could just encourage him to focus on the here and now and told him that we are glad he was still with us at the moment. Also told him we were happy to have him in our lives. Asked him if we was content with what he has accomplished in his life and he said yes. Then I told him we love him and he smiled. This moment taught me to simply be present with the dying person. Bill, I think you are doing just fine with Nellie. She simply needs people like yourself to be there for her. Cherish the moment. Peace.

  3. M T McGuire says:

    It’s strange but when a person is ill I think they often have to be strong for their sympathetic friends. 😉

    Like you say, if someone is really sick, it doesn’t change who they are, so yeh, I’d have thought that visiting the ill person, behaving normally and letting them set the agenda and the pace would be the way to go right?

    It’s not always easy though, especially if you’re a bit WYSYG like me. I tend to just fess up that I’m feeling awkward and take their lead.


    BC – except I think I’m posting with my alter ego author’s hat on as MTM! 😉

  4. rangewriter says:

    I think you are doing the perfect thing for Nellie by visiting her often and for short periods of time that don’t exhaust both of you. And talking to her just the way you’ve always talked sounds perfect. Sounds like maybe she’s doing most of the talking, which is a good thing. It is important for her voice to be heard, now that there’s not much time left for her.

    I’ll be forming my good wishes towards her comfort and towards the ease and comfort of her family and caretakers.

  5. Mel says:

    (((((((((( Bill and Vi )))))))))))))

    It’s hard to lose a parent.
    It’s hard to lose a child.
    It’s just hard….loss is hard, whether you see it coming or not.

    Denial is just another stage in that grieving process, Bill. We all go through it, one way or another apparently.
    I’m sure they’re doing the best they can, one day at a time in just dealing with their own pain and knowing that loss will happen….even if they can’t wrap their head around the ‘when’.
    We hang on to hope, we grab for what we can……and we struggle. Sometimes we avoid and deny and pretend and just try to keep moving/life as normal. But there’s a bit of us that knows…..
    It’s just hard.

    No doubt hard for you and Vi as well.
    Love ’em while you got ’em is my theory…..cuz we don’t all get to hear that we’re on the road home to our Maker and we don’t all get time to make connections and say things we want to say. Love ’em while you got ’em.
    And you’re doing that with Nellie.
    I think one of the most awesome gifts you’ve given has been your time and your presence. And I’ve no doubt that ‘thank you for bring Vi into the world’ undoubtedly touched a part of her whether she’s vocalized that or not.
    You just keep lovin’, Bill. That’s the greatest gift any of us can hand out–and it’s free, yaknow?


  6. Irene says:

    Dear Bill,
    I think dying is an interesting thing…It gives the test first and teaches the lesson(s) later. It’s great that you’re there for however long you stay. She’ll know she still matters–how important that is especially at that age and stage. Her deafness is irrelevant. Your willingness to listen to whatever she has to say is vital. I hope when it’s my turn that someone shows up and holds my hand while I try to find the portal to the other side. Even though I don’t know the lady, thanks for being there. We all need that kind of dignity..
    Thinking of you often. Praying for you always, Wiseman.

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