What Really Does A Dying Person Think Of?

Discussion in 'Reading & Writing' started by Michelle Keiser, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. Michelle Keiser

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    I have experienced loss in my life. None as close as when I loss my father 3 years ago. I was sitting along side of his hospital bed that was set up for my family to bring him home to die in. I wasn't real crazy about his coming home to die but it was not my choice. I didn't believe in my heart that it was his choice either so it made it that much harder for me to watch. As my father looked around between slipping in and out of sleep I kept wondering to myself what he was thinking. My dad didn't express himself very well so he was silent most of the time but you could see in his eyes that he was thinking about things. What really does a dying person think when they know they are dying? Do they just come to terms with it or do they surrender to the idea that they will soon be gone? My father didn't say he was scared. My father didn't say much about it at all to me. When he would open his eyes he always appeared to be a million miles away from where he was. He would just stare out the window and it broke my heart to wonder what he was thinking. I sat there most of the afternoon and watched family members come in and out. Again, how crazy did this seem to him? People that he had not seen for weeks coming into his room and saying good-bye. I just wanted for everyone to leave. My mind jumps to the moment I was told he was gone. I ran to his room. I wanted to be by his side. I felt so empty, so alone. I stared at his silver hair and touched it for what would be the last time. My father had beautiful hair. What Really Does A Dying Person Think Of?
     
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  2. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    What a touching story, Michelle. I don't know what every dying person thinks of; but I can tell you about my mother when she passed away.
    Like me, she had congestive heart failure. Plus, she was 83 years old, and had been pretty much bedridden for the last few months. Her kidneys were shutting down, she was in pain; we had to take Mom to the hospital.
    She didn't want to be there, and every day , she would ask Daddy and I to take her home.

    The day before she died; she said that if we would not take her home, then she just wanted Jesus to come and get her.
    That night, she told me that she had been helping the angels.
    She said there was a little Mexican family in the basement, and they needed help, and she had been helping the angels to take care of the family and the little children there.
    Now, I knew that there was not a little Mexican family anywhere in the basement of that hospital; so all I could think was that she was beginning to slip back and forth from this world to the next one.
    I was glad that she seemed at peace with it, and she was helping people, which was what she loved to do in her life.
    Early the next morning, the hospital called to let me know that my mother had passed away peacefully during the night.
    I imagine that she is still happily helping the angels with their rescue missions......
     
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  3. Michelle Keiser

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    Thank you for sharing with me. It just seems like there are a couple of things that I cannot get over that keep coming to my mind about my father dying. There were a couple moments when he would open his eyes and he had this look on his face that I had never EVER seen before. It was not a good look. It looked mean or I hate to say it but almost evil. It scared me so bad. I glanced over to my mother whom was on the other side of his bed and she looked scared as well. It was a side of my father that obviously neither myself or my mother had seen. At that moment all of these thoughts came flooding into my head like what did I just see? What was he thinking? Where was his mindset? I feel terrible inside even thinking that it had an evil look to it...I am his daughter and I shouldn't think that way. I don't know. It bothers me to this day. The meaning behind it I will probably never know but it really bothers me. My father was on some hefty pain medication so I really do need to keep that in mind. It is strange how this one particular moment just won't go out of my mind.
     
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  4. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    It might have been that he was going through pain, and there was no way for him to express it other than through his eyes.
    When my father-in-law had a heart attack, they took him to the hospital, but he never regained consciosness. We kept hoping for several days that he would come back out of it and revive. I sat with him a lot, and he would have spasms where he would just sit up suddenly, and gasp and his eyes would open wide. His face looked terrible when he did that.
    Apparently, when they didn't keep him on heavy enough sedatives, he was having more heart attacks, and when they increased the sedatives, then he was too far under to be able to wake up.
    He finally had a last severe heart attack that killed him; but I think that the smaller ones caused the expressions he would get on his face.
    In any case, I am sure that the father that you knew all of your life is the person that he was, and not whatever caused the expressions he made as he was dying, whether it was pain, delirium, or the drugs they were giving him. I remember having terrible nightmares when i was in the hospital with my broken leg, and they had me on heavy painkillers; so he might have had nightmares, too.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    It doesn't deal primarily with what we think of as we are dying, but one of the more fascinating books I have read on the subject has been How We Die, by Sherwin B. Nuland. The book speaks clearly about just what is going on within our bodies and our minds as we are dying, including the mechanisms involved in cancer, heart attack, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and other specific types of death. Of particular importance is the fact that death is no longer a fact of life for many people because, while they know that it occurs, and have probably known people who have died, most people don't see it any longer. While deaths once occurred mostly at home, they now occur mostly hidden away in hospital rooms. It is not a spiritual books, although he acknowledges, with no hostility, the role of faith in the last moments of those who are of faith. When I was a paramedic instructor, this is a book that I recommended to my paramedic students, some of whom would no doubt be working in areas where a trip to the hospital might take an hour or more, and who would be dealing with people whose realistic chances of survival were nil.

    On a related topic, my first save, where I was the lead paramedic, was one of our city councilmen. He suffered a heart attack while in church, and had no pulse or respiration when we arrived, so we worked the code there in the aisles of the church. I was scared silly, as I was a new paramedic and he was an important person in our city. Plus, of course, there were all of the people all about, many of whom were praying, while others were making suggestions that I ignored because I needed to focus on what I was doing.

    After about ten minutes, his pulse was back. By then, he was intubated, had an IV, a few medications in his system, and had been defibrillated twice. He survived, and was still doing fine when I moved from the city twelve years later. A few times, I invited him in to speak to my paramedic classes about what it was like to be the patient in a cardiac arrest, since he was aware of all of it. Although he had no pulse, was not breathing, and had an EKG that would not have produced a pulse, he was able to tell me what I had said while we were working the code, and was even aware of what some of the other people around me had said, whom I had tuned out during that time. He also said the could see what was going on, although that was sometimes blurry and confusing. His testimony was important, I thought, because people otherwise assume that someone who has no pulse, and is not breathing, is incapable of hearing what was said, and may say the wrong things.
     
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  6. Pat Baker

    Pat Baker Well-Known Member
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    Interesting, I would be one of the people who would have been under the impression that the patient could not hear what was going on if they did not have a pulse. Thanks for the information. I have never been around a dying person, they have already passed on when I see them.
     
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  7. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens Active Member
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    I wish I'd given this more thought when my Dad was dying last year. He had a massive stroke after surgery and never regained consciousness, but when I first noticed that something was wrong (a fact that the ICU nursing staff had missed), I asked him to squeeze my hand. When I was holding his "good" hand, he did so, but when I was holding the other one, he tried to reach across with the good hand. Foolishly my response was that he must use the other hand, and it was only after he died that I realised I should have given more thought to what he may have been feeling. I wonder now whether I could have used that bit of response to get him to communicate with me, but I was so shocked by his state at the time that it never crossed my mind to do so.
     
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  8. Teresita Campaner

    Teresita Campaner Active Member
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    I can't help but remember my grandmother when i read this thread. She was 92 when she died and she was so at peace and actually so expectant to meet our Creator that even the priest who was a regular visitor at home when she got sick, said that he had never seen a person as happy and as ready as my grandma in her last days. Her eyes before she died were cloudy looking because of age but moments before she breathed her last, her eyes were so clear, her eyes were looking from both sides and then she got heavier in my arms, and died a very peaceful and happy death.
     
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  9. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens Active Member
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    @Teresita Campaner , it sounds like your grandmother was one of the lucky ones. And you were lucky to have her for so long.
     
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  10. Helene Lawson

    Helene Lawson Active Member
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    That's a very emotional story, that was a very painful experience for you, and I know how hard it was to go through,
    because my father also died, but he died in a car crash, so I couldn't even say a fucking goodbye to him.
    All I could see was his cold body in the coffin. It was truely the most depressing moment in my life.
    I would do everything to get rid of this memory and the emotions.

    Answering to your question, I think that dying people think of all of their entire life, all of their memories, bad and good ones pass through their mind, they think of what they have done right and wrong, what they have experienced, I think that that's really what they think of. Also they probably think of what is going to happen to them after their death, due to religion they believe in certain things, don't know what religion was your father. That's only me guessing, but on the other side I could be wrong...
    But I think that people think about the most important things while dying, they noticed their sins most of the times.
     
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  11. Jenn Windey

    Jenn Windey Active Member
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    I have read a lot on dying and the dying process. I often wondered the same thing after my elderly neighbor passed away. On the day he died he acted somewhat frantic. He went in the yard and was saying that someone was coming for him in the car and he would be going. The person he said was coming was dead already. He tied his tie to the fence and went inside and died.

    When I worked in a nursing home, twice I had two experiences with people that died, one man- Vito told me he had to take a shower and look nice because his mother was coming. His mother was dead and so was he in 24 hours. He wanted to make sure the sweater he chose was nice enough for his mom, he loved his mother and knew she was dead, and I think he knew he was dying soon to. He was in no distress. The other was a woman in the home that asked me to take down her suitcases. She said she was leaving soon, and she took down the cases and packed everything up. She died that night, they told me she had stomach cancer. i don't know if she knew she was dying or not, but she was adamant she was going home.

    At work someone was telling me about their mother who went to hospice, they said that when a person is getting close to death they get fidgety. The mom got like this and died soon after, rather peacefully. Something with the process of death makes them fidget they felt, I wondered if it is not more about fighting organically to live in the body? Like the soul fighting or decommissioning before detaching from the body.
     
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  12. Richard Paradon

    Richard Paradon Well-Known Member
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    The only family member who I was around when dying was my father. He had emphysema and a bad heart and knew he was leaving. As a scientist he was brilliant (in the lab, anyway) and told me that he was not worried about dying as you can not destroy energy. Then he calmly asked me to pull out all of the tubes and gadgets he had that were keeping him alive. I told him that although I would like to, I could not as it may cause me a lot of bad merit (karma). A few days later I was told that he pulled out all of the instrumentation himself. What was he thinking? Perhaps, "Let me out of here!"
     
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  13. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens Active Member
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    @Richard Paradon - I'm sorry for your bad experience with your father. Unfortunately life can be cruel and some people suffer so much that in the end death must come as a relief. It can be really difficult when the dying ask for help in ending it all.

    A few years ago there was a case of a South African man who went to New Zealand to visit his ailing mother and at her request he helped her to end her suffering. After a controversial court case he was jailed for doing so.

    My Dad was hooked up to machines in the end too, but only for a couple of days. Fortunately he wasn't conscious, so I doubt he suffered. I was really grateful that my Mom and I never had to make the decision to switch those machines off when it was obvious that nothing could be done for him.
     
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  14. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    I wasn't there when my Mom passed but from what my sister and niece told me it wasn't pleasant what they witnessed. My mother became a totally different person. She cursed at them to go get someone to help her, my guess is she knew what was happening to her. The doctor had told me that there wasn't anything that could be done her body was quickly shutting down. All that could be done was to make her as comfortable as possible.

    For someone to know that they are going to die is just impossible for me to even guess at what they are thinking. In my mother's case though I would guess and say that she was not ready even though she knew she was going to die.
     
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  15. Richard Paradon

    Richard Paradon Well-Known Member
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    Thank you Michelle! Actually I am ok with it and was even back then. I feel that we must go through some things prior to death that may clear up some Karma and make our next life a bit easier.
     
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  16. John Donovan

    John Donovan Active Member
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    I don't think we can truly answer this until we're put in that situation, but I think that dying people know their end is coming, even those who are healthy. One particular example was when I was 20, I was visiting my grandfather with my parents, and he went into the bathroom. After a few minutes, he came to us, and told his son (my father) to shave him, because God called for him, and he must go. So my dad shaved him, and my grandfather got into his bed, and he passed away after a few seconds. He died of old age, and he went away with a smile on his face. It was a really, really weird experience for me, and I have been thinking about it every now and then.
     
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  17. Faith Marie

    Faith Marie New Member
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    There is such a paradox, in death. We are all aware that we must die, we know others who have died, yet we, can never come to terms with death. I remember when my grandmother died. She was 98 years, and pretty active. She was in good health, and liked to clean up around the yard. We actually had no thought of her dying. She was alert And very involved in the family.
    One afternoon, after cleaning up the yard, she went into her bedroom, selected a dress, and told her daughter, that she wanted to be buried in that dress. Then granny said " I am so tired". She lay on her bed, closed her eyes and died peacefully.
     
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