**Another**Sad Update in OP--I need advice re: end of life. Mother in law is dying of lung cancer -

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Posted 4/16/2014 by genny in NSBR Board
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PeaNut 3,030
February 2000
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Loc: GA

Posted: 4/16/2014 8:24:43 PM
My nephew passed away this morning around 11am. The grief is overwhelming, I am so sorry that I was not there. This week has been just awful and I feel like I'm trying to walk through knee deep mud.
Thank you all so much for your condolences.
Nick was a fighter to the end and I am told he never stopped smiling and trying to make everybody else smile too. I am in awe of his life. He received his diploma from his school yesterday - he was to graduate high school this year.

MIL passed on Friday afternoon. Thursday was an awful horrible day for her and us but we thought we could handle it. Late in the night, she became very sick with constant awful diahrea that was just...well, more than we could handle. We called our hospice but there was no one available to come and help. So we slept in spurts all night, laid out all over the living room so we could hear her and jump to her aid. It was the longest night of my life.
By morning she was unresponsive, but still alive. We got the hospice team in as soon as they were available - there were no beds at the hospice house. The rest of Friday was peaceful and she passed easy - and we all got to say our goodbyes, give her our love and told her it was okay to go. She took three or four breaths after the last of us gave her our love and urged her to go home.

The weekend was a blur - we were numb and barely functioned it seemed but finally Sunday afternoon we were able to go to her house and start going through some things, moved forward with planning her memorial etc. Then Monday we got the call from other SIL in Michigan - the doctors have said her son's liver is shutting down and he doesn't have long to live. So we moved up the memorial by a day and started booking flights to Mi. My SIL who was here with us flew up this morning, DD and I fly up Friday. I think DH and DS are going to drive up once they know when the funeral is set (we just can't buy two more last minute plane tickets).
SIL who was here with me just got to their house and texted me. She doesn't think he'll last thru tomorrow (based solely on what we've just gone through and how it went with her sister). His mom called me earlier to tell me she didn't know if he could hold on for us until Friday.
This has just been the most awful, horrific week.

Good things: DD, the emotional mess most of the time, was rock solid and was a champ for EVERYBODY that day. DS, the show no emotion, nothing bothers me, manly man broke down like a baby sobbing and it was the most heart-wrenching moments of my life holding him while cried like that.
DH was rock solid. He stepped up when things got really horrible and did what needed to be done. He did things that were his worst fears in all of this in regards to his mom...and he handled it and her with a grace and gentleness that truly surprised me. And he held her hand and stroked her head until the funeral home came to pick her up. (a LONG time later)

I thank you all again for your thoughts, kind words and prayers.



I am afraid the end is very near. This has been a difficult journey, MIL has been difficult the entire 20 years I've been in this family. When she moved in with us in August she was combative, angry, mean and just plain difficult. It was somewhat easy to ignore the sadness that accompanies cancer and the havoc that the illness wreaks on a person (and a family). DH has been...uninvolved to put it nicely. Not that he doesn't care, but he doesn't know how to cope with this.

SIL has moved in with us as well (from out of state, tele-working from our kitchen table) to help care for her so DH and I can continue to work. She has been a god-send and has been become one of my closest friend through this journey. Our house is full of craziness because both of my kids are teens and have extremely active schedules and social lives - DS has moved into the living room so SIL can have his bed. SIL has said in the last few days that her mom has regressed to be the 'mommy' she knew as a child; sweet and kind, comforting and loving instead of the bitter, nasty woman she's been the last several years.

I feel like a complete bitch saying those things but I swear y'all would be be pea livid if I told you some of the things that she has said and done since she has moved in with us. There were days I lliterally did not want to come home because my house was no longer my 'haven' or 'refuge'. I swear at 40 I just wanted to move back in with my mama. But all of that is water under the bridge - we all feel like the end is very near based on the things we've been reading about 'active dying'. The hospice nurse says we are not down to days, but probably 2 or 3 weeks based on the symptoms she's monitoring.

Anyway, MIL has been a completely different person the last few days and I swear tonight the reality and sadness is really setting in for me. I am so terribly saddened by her weakness and frailty and her inability to do simple things anymore and my anger and bitterness from the last several months is just gone. I'm just so damn sad - for her, for SIL and DH. Added to all this DH's other living sister's 17 year old son has cancer, we found out today that the doctors have said treatment is no longer viable. His marker numbers are over 1000 times what they should be and the tumors have spread even while on chemo. He is already under Hospice care and the treatment he was on was a last ditch effort. We, as a family, are just devastated. With their mom here dying and him up in Mi dying, we just don't know which way to turn. It's just overwhelming.

Anyway, I don't know what to do and the peas know all. DH's sister who is here had a twin who died from melanoma 5 years ago. She sat at her sister's bedside until the last breath, so she has been through this already before. She and I both feel like it is closer than the hospice nurse thinks. Her skin today has started mottling and she has become more and more confused the last few days. She is still insistent on trying to do some things for herself but it's an enormous task to do even the smallest thing. I knew it was coming, and I think I thought I could handle it all but I am doubting myself now. I am worried for my kids (both in high school) and them seeing it all, although we talk constantly and they swear they are okay - they just want to be here and help and make sure she knows they are here for her and with her. I am worried for DH who did not handle his sister's death well AT ALL, and terribly worried for SIL who has lost so much already. I see her falling apart in small ways, but she remains a rock to everyone else.

If any of you have been through this, please share your experience. Should I send my kids to stay with my mom in the last days or let them stay like they want to? How do I help my family through this when I don't know if I can handle it myself? What signs should we look for when the end is nearer?

Ugh, I have run this home and our business for years - I manage everyone's schedule and run myself ragged on a daily basis. I have an ill dog, can't tell which cat is bringing in ticks, 4 chickens I keep forgetting to check for eggs, had to file an extension on taxes, have basically ditched all other 'extra' commitments, and am simply emotionally, mentally and physically stressed to the point that I never ever feel rested, even if I sleep. All of this and I have no idea how to handle this situation now that it's coming to an end...

I feel so selfish and bitter sometimes and I dislike myself immensely for it. But now I'm just sad. And tired and I need some encouragement.

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. ~ Winston Churchill

Mom to beautiful, creative, talented and kind Sarrie, 14, and handsome, intelligent, wise, and witty Dev, 16

Original Pea #1803

PeaNut 246,606
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:30:16 PM
What you're feeling is very normal. It's been a rough time for everyone in your family and everyone sounds like they are handling it extremely well under the circumstances.

Give your children the choice to stay or go. They'll probably want to stay.

You are not a bitch. You sound like a loving woman who is tired.


Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian - Henry Ford

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 359,333
January 2008
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:34:51 PM
I am so sorry you are going through this. There has been a lot of loss already in your family and I am sorry your nephew is in the end stages of life way too soon. That breaks my heart.

I don't really have a lot of good advice except to take care of you. It's so easy when you are the caregiver to neglect your own needs. Try to make sure you are eating right, getting enough sleep and are able to vent to a friend or maybe even a counselor.

I think I would let my children stay if they want to. I think since they are in high school they are old enough to make that choice.

I am glad your sister in law is there with you all right now. I always says this but I can't say enough good things about the grief counselors at hospice. The best thing is you don't have to make an appointment. You just call on your own time and talk to them as needed. It may help your children and your husband too!

I will keep you all in my prayers. You have a lot on your plate.


PeaNut 339,632
September 2007
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:36:34 PM
Couldn't read and not respond!!! Hugs and lots of love sent to you and your family! If your children are teenagers and they want to be there let them. Death is a normal part of life. What a gift to be able to be with her and help her through her journey from this life back home to our maker!
Show your kids that death is nothing to be afraid of and help her to go with as much dignity as she can

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PeaNut 29,130
February 2002
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:42:26 PM
I have no advice. You have an awful lot to deal with. I'm so sorry. (((hugs)))

Carolina Girl 71
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PeaNut 217,388
August 2005
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:43:54 PM
I'm so sorry you and your family are experiencing all this with your MIL and your nephew. Each one is a LOT to handle and together it is compounded.

It sounds like everyone seems to be handling it as well as possible. I agree with giving your children the choice to stay or go - they are old enough to make the decision - and will probably resent you for a long time (forever) if you make them go and they really wanted to stay. Just let them know that the decision is not irrevocable, whether they go or stay - if they change their mind they can go or stay as they desire.

Take care of yourself and seek counseling through hospice or other sources for yourself or other family members as needed.


"I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven't slept all night, I'm starved, and I'm armed! Don't *mess* with me!" Gracie Hart, Miss Congeniality

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PeaNut 345,847
November 2007
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:46:04 PM
I've recently lost my mother to ovarian cancer so know some of your anguish. Relationships are complicated and illness and death don't alter that.

My experience was that the end seemed sudden although it had been a long struggle with cancer and it was very much expected. I would give your children the option to stay home or go to your mom's and also the option to change their minds midstream. Everyone grieves differently and they may not be able to predict how they will react.

My only suggestion, if you haven't done it, is to talk to her physician about procedures for when she passes. In our area the physician was able to arrange (paperwork about the death being expected) so that we only had to involve the undertaker and not have to call police etc.

You and your family are in my prayers.


PeaNut 3,030
February 2000
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:48:00 PM
thank you all so much for your kind words. I am so torn about the kids because I don't want them to feel guilt for NOT being here but I am also concerned about what it may be like for them to watch her die. Esp for DD. Her grammy has been SO mean to her and DD just does not understand why - none of us do. Sar just craves her acceptance and love and she is finally getting it these last few days... God I am so torn about this.

Lauren, thank you. I DO feel like real bitch sometimes- she has been so hateful it's hard not to - but I'm just not angry anymore. UGh. I think I will def be in need of the hospice grief counselor when this is over.

I am finding out I am not quite as strong as I thought I was.

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. ~ Winston Churchill

Mom to beautiful, creative, talented and kind Sarrie, 14, and handsome, intelligent, wise, and witty Dev, 16


PeaNut 11,212
February 2001
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:48:13 PM
When my dad's skin started to mottle he had about 36-48 hours. His breathing also changed to a different pattern. He also had quit drinking all liquids. I'm so sorry your family is going through such a rough time, it sounds like you have your hands full. You are a very kind person to take in a MIL who had been so cruel to you. Bless you all.


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PeaNut 131,500
February 2004
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:50:53 PM
What about having your kids meet with the social worker or counselor or whatever hospice calls them about what the end will be like. Frankly and openly. Then with full knowledge they can tell you if they really think they'll stay or go to their other grandmother.

Your doing the best you can so be gentle with yourself.

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scrapea girl

PeaNut 15,719
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:51:49 PM
Your story has brought up so many emotions, I can't think straight enough to offer you advice. I couldn't leave the post without telling you that you are in my thoughts and prayers though. (((HUGS)))

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 218,176
August 2005
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:56:46 PM
Hugs to you. That is a crap load to deal with at all let alone at the same time. The only thing I can say is your DH might deal with his mother's passing better than his sister for a couple of reasons. First, the natural order is that parents go before children and when it happens against the natural order, I believe it is somehow harder for everyone to deal with.

Second, I don't know how involved hwpe was with his sister near the end but my DH was not with his mom when she passed. We had been there, a city about 4 hours away, a few weeks before. Then her dr told DH's sister, who lived close to her mom, that they should be prepared for only about 6 months left. Then over the weekend she had a stroke and died. Dh always felt guilty he wasn't there even though it took everyone by surprise.

When his dad got sick 4 years later, it was pretty sudden but he took a flight there and actually got to the hospital about 20 minutes before his dad passed, surrounded by his sister and her kids, etd and DH was part of that. He seemed to handle that much better than his mom's passing even though he was equally close to both.

Sorry, all this to say, you've got so much on your plate try not to worry about things that might happen or not. And let the kids "help" more...sometimes they think its best if they just stay out of the way because they don't know what to do or say....but it is important they be around...this is their grandmother and they have a role to play in your family dealing with this difficult time...don't assume its better for them not to be part of it because they'll be sad...this is how children learn how to grieve, what needs to be done...some day they'll be doing this for people they love too.

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PeaNut 34,854
April 2002
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:58:05 PM
You are not a bitch. You sound like a loving woman who is tired.
Don't be so hard on yourself. (((hugs)))

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PeaNut 225,338
September 2005
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Posted: 4/16/2014 8:59:34 PM
No advice but didn't want to read and run. Prayers and good thoughts for you and your family during this difficult time.


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PeaNut 228,581
October 2005
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:00:37 PM
Everything you are feeling is perfectly normal. (((Hugs))) to you!! You have been going through a lot!
What scrapngranny said is true... but they can surprise you by lasting a bit longer too. I worked on a palliative floor with mostly cancer patients. Watch her breathing... when it starts slowing and she starts "gasping" then the near is close.
I'd definitely talk it over sooner than later with your kids and ask if they want to remain in their home or go to your Mom's. They're old enough to decide.
Take care of yourself and definitely get grief counseling afterwards.


UpNorth Scrapper
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PeaNut 99,963
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:02:31 PM
We've been through something like this with both of my husband's parents. The days at the end of a long illness are so incredibly sad. They suffer so much and you know that only one thing will end that suffering and it's just a hard thing to face. You will get through it just because you will. My husband has no siblings and we were doing everything for my fil. It was so difficult, but we did it. I learned so many things about my husband and family and no doubt it made us a stronger family. I really worried about how my husband would be without his parents. He was very sad about it, but he kept reminding himself that they would want him to be happy and that seemed to help him. He'd say it out loud often, I think just to force himself to keep going forward. Having to deal with also losing your nephew just seems very unfair. I am so sorry.

We both agreed that the days leading up to the end were the worse than the days after. When they do finally pass away there is some relief in knowing that they are no longer suffering and we felt they were safe. I'm sorry to hear that this is where you are right now, but have faith in yourself and your family that you will handle everything you are faced with. You will get through it.

Eta- we had to help my husband's aunt when she was in the last few months of cancer. She was absolutely impossible at times, and I remember once as I was driving to work that I thought about just taking off, just leaving and not coming back until it was all over. So I don't think you were being bitchy about your mil. They can be difficult and it's hard not to feel frustrated and then you feel guilty for feeling frustrated. It's normal.


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 289,166
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:06:20 PM
<HUGS> Just take it one day at a time. I watched my dad go through this and it sucked. I wasn't there for the day to day although I lived close. I think my siblings were trying to shield me as I had a young daughter and was pregnant at the time.

It was brutal to visit him at the hospital that last time. It was back in 2000 and it's still very fresh. I was so busy with family matters that I don't think I really took time to grieve properly. Give yourself that time if you can.

Your DH and your MIL have been lucky to have you carry the brunt of the emotional toll so I'm glad you have your SIL to share that now. I would let your kids be there if they choose. They may need to be there in order to process just what is happening.

My kids are teens now and I would let them stay if they wanted.

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PeaNut 3,902
April 2000
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:07:50 PM
I applaud you. It's a hard hard thing you are doing. If you are uncomfortable with her dying in your home, there are always other options. A lot of hospitals have hospice rooms, and also assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Thoughts and prayers to you and your family!!


PeaNut 577,483
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:12:59 PM
We just went through this with my FIL only he was diagnosed and passed 12 days later despite hospice saying the end was no where near. We were hit with another tragedy just days after his passing.

I would let the kids stay. They can't ever get that time back once she passes. Hopefully you can get some quality conversation in while she is back to her 'real' personality that you missed out on. It's hard. It sucks. It's not fair.

If you haven't done so already I would work on picking out a funeral home, burial location, and do some preliminary service planning. Having a few of these things taken care of took a lot of burden off of us when the time came.

I'm sorry you are going through this.
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PeaNut 266,627
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:14:14 PM
I am so sorry you & your family is dealing with all this. I think you are doing the best you can. I haven't walked that path yet so I have no good advice other than sending you a hug & prayers.

Wise~old Pea

PeaNut 17,460
June 2001
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:14:34 PM
Talk to Hospice now, they will bring someone in to talk to you and your family now, all of you and seperately. Please let your children make their own choices whether they stay or not. As others have said, let them know they can go visit the other grandma as needed. There are no rules in this situation, do what is best for each of you. Give yourself a break, you have done more for your MIL then many others have or would have done for theirs. You have given your DH a gift no one else could have, taking care of his mother. Have you told your SIL how much you really appreciate her being there and the help she has given to you, your family and her mom?

Mary Kay Lady
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PeaNut 367,913
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:14:52 PM

I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this. I can't imagine how challenging this journey has been for you and your family. Come on here for support and to vent if you need to. You know we're always here for you.

Frankly, I admire you. I don't think I'd be dealing with it very well if a dying family member moved in with us. Take care of yourself and be sure to send your SIL out for breaks too. A trip to Starbucks or to the movies might be a great way to get some "me" time in.

I agree with those who've said that they'd let the kids stay. Keep the lines of communication open. If they want to go let them know that it's OK.

(((HUGS))) to you. Please keep us updated.


Doxie Pea Mom

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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:17:43 PM
I am so very sorry about all that your family is going through. I haven't been in your situation so I don't have any first hand advice. I do believe that if the teens wish to stay at home, I would let them. I would let them make the decision. Hugs to your family.

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Harley Riding Pea

PeaNut 10,051
January 2001
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:18:46 PM
Best advice is to just it in your moments. Remember to take a breath when you leave a room, enter a room, sit down, lay down. Whatever it is you're feeling, it's normal and be kind and gentle with yourself.

Everyone grieves differently and everyone looks back and feels guilty for all the should haves.

As for your kids, let them take the lead. If they say they want to do something or don't want to do it, let that be ok. They too have to find their own way in grief. I was with my grandfather when he took his last breath and over 20 years later, I still remember it. I wasn't with my grandmother when she died 4 years ago, but I lovingly held her hand and talked to her after she had passed, before they took her from the house. Both felt right at the time, but both are different.

I wish you all peace.


PeaNut 429,864
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:25:28 PM
My only advice is to involve hospice as much as you can. A friend's mom died and the social work through hospice was great! They were in and met with family while her mother was very ill. She (friend) had a small child and they had ways to help prepare him. There services are invaluable!

They would be especially good I think for your children to speak with...they have the experience and can better guide you as to doing what is best for them! My only other thought would be maybe for someone a little removed from the situation like your Mom to talk with them some and make sure they know they can call on her at any time. When things become really bad, they may feel like they need an out and it would be good for them to have someone to call. While they may talk to you, they may also not want to place more burden on you if things become very stressful.

((Hugs)) I can't imagine how stressful things are. Please do your best to take care of yourself during all this.


PeaNut 528,406
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:28:16 PM
Hugs and payers for you. So sorry for what you and your family is dealing with. Both of my parents passed from lung cancer. With my dad we were told on a Sunday that he had ten weeks to live, he died four days later on the Thursday. With my mom it was different, we knew the time was coming and were told she could go quickly or linger for a few weeks. Take care!
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Gotta Have My Starbucks!

PeaNut 6,748
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:33:14 PM
I'm sorry. I'm about to go thru this myself but I can't even imagine how you feel. Just remember you are only human and you are doing your best.



Donna in GA
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 60,695
January 2003
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:37:05 PM
I am so sorry your family is going through so much.

The last few days of my Dad's battle with colon cancer was really rough. He was so weak and out of it. I am glad I got to see him that last weekend, but I am also glad that I was not there when he passed. My Mom and sister-in-law were with him.

Our experience with hospice was not a good one. They were not very helpful. My sister-in-law is now a hospice nurse and makes sure that her families get better treatment than we received.

I agree with the others that think your kids are old enough to decide what they want to do. Let them stay if that is what they want.



PeaNut 405,965
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:48:12 PM
I am so sorry. My heart just breaks for you.

We lost my mom in late January. She, too, was in Hospice. When it became obvious that we were at the end, we moved her to the inpatient facility even though Hospice thought she had a couple of weeks. We lost her in 4 days. Doing this helped ease some of the stress of her actually dying at home. I have teenager boys, and for us, moving her was the best option.

Otherwise, I would have given them the choice about going or staying.

Ask Hospice if they have someone who can talk to your kids. Tell them what to expect, etc. Knowing that is to come will help them make an informed decision.

We sat with my mom around the clock and when everyone left her room to go get something to eat, she passed. Go figure. LOL My point is this: try and make the best decision for you and your family. Moving my mom was hard - but I was her caretaker, and quiet frankly, I was wore out and scared.

If you want to talk, send me a message. I just walked the path you are on and would love to talk with you.


Anna in TX

PeaNut 23,002
October 2001
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Posted: 4/16/2014 9:50:11 PM
I couldn't read and run.

I am so sorry for what you are going through. You and your family will be in my thoughts.


PeaNut 209,453
June 2005
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Posted: 4/16/2014 10:00:08 PM
I am sending hugs and prayers your way. When my gramma died, we checked her feet for circulation. As it became closer to the time she passed, her breathing was more labored and then it grew even quieter. We only had 3 days between her illness and death and the last day we all just kind of knew something was going to happen, time just kind of stood still. We all said what we had to say and when she passed it was a beautiful thing...surrounded by the ones she loved.


PeaNut 396,445
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Posted: 4/16/2014 10:28:10 PM
You are just exhausted...please do what you can for yourself even if it is a warm bath or shower. It's a good place to cry!
My mother died 37 years ago, before they had hospice. We had moved her into our home about 6 months before she passed.
As the end was near,I panicked and sent her to the hospital as I had kids at home and didn't want them to be upset (I'm still ok with that decision) I called a nurse when I noticed her breathing change and she said "oh that is the death rattle" and it was that same day that she died. I was a little bitter for awhile that no one had stepped in to help me but then again I didn't ask. I remember being so tired from the care and not sleeping that I could hardly move one foot in front of the other. Please check in with us so we know how you are doing....we care.

Grom Pea

PeaNut 317,501
May 2007
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Posted: 4/16/2014 10:52:09 PM
So sorry for what you are going through, take care of yourself. I have not been through this process but dh has sat with two of his grandparents for this process. Its not easy but he said you just know because you hear the breathing change and he said that with the grandma that was at home, the pets all knew and came to be with her in her last few moments. I'm sending some positive thoughts your way, stray strong.

My blog: http://rollerscrapper.blogspot.com/

Alex M

PeaNut 232,908
November 2005
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Posted: 4/16/2014 11:05:01 PM
I'm so sorry you are going through this right now but what you are feeling is normal, not bitchy. I JUST listened to this podcast yesterday about dying, its from the Stuff You Should Know guys which is very informative and factual but also somewhat entertaining. You may find this helpful because they go through and tell about what to expect and how to treat the loved one during the dying process. Having just lost 3 grandparents in 6 months I can tell you that it was very accurate compared to what I saw first hand when my grandfather was dying. I plan on listening to it again if I'm in a situation where someone I care about is dying. How Dying Works

Kids--If their grandmother has been nasty to them over the last few years and is sweeter now then this is probably a REALLY good time for them to get some closure in their relationship with her. They don't have to sit in the same room with her if they aren't comfortable but it might help them if they were close enough to spend time with her if they wanted to. I'm the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family and when my grandfather was dying I had two younger cousins who were also in the house but were in another room most of the time. When he was somewhat coherent they came and said hi and that they loved him and will miss him and when he got that death rattle (weird breathing sound) and it kinda freaked them out they went and hung out in the family room.

If your MIL is on Hospice ask your case manager or head nurse if a social worker could talk to the kids. My grandfather's social worker came to visit with my grandmother and asked how she was processing things as my grandfather was in the last few days of actively dying and she also got to spend some time with the 3 of us granddaughters to ask us similar questions. It was really great now that I look back on it. I'd never seen someone in the process of dying and my cousins who are 18 and 20 years younger than me definitely had no experience with anything similar


PeaNut 155,286
July 2004
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Posted: 4/16/2014 11:07:46 PM

I lurk here and probably haven't posted in over 2 - 3 years but logged in because I wanted to reply. First of all lots of love to you at this time. My dad passed away from lung cancer a little over two years ago. My parents lived with us until it was to a point where we couldn't care for my dad and we had him at a nursing home that could care for him full time.

All I have to say is you won't regret the time you spend with her. My kids are much smaller than yours (they were 6 and 2) so they went to see my dad up until the very last day. During the last day, we had them with our friends. I didn't think they could handle the last moments. But if your kids feel like they can, I would have them stay.

The last couple of days with my dad were peaceful. He slept a lot and just was in and out of consciousness here and there. How long the end of life lasts is different. You might want to ask the hospice nurses/doctors as they can share with you when they think the patient is in the active dying stage.

As for you- you are handling a lot. If you can find it in your heart to let go.

We had a hospice nurse with my dad the last 48 hours of his life. They were so very kind. They gave a sponge washing. They talked to him. They rubbed his feet. I suggest having that support for you and your family if you can.

The transition to the end of life is not easy. Be kind to yourself. Take a breather if you need to and will be thinking of you and saying prayers for you.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 168,696
September 2004
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Loc: Northern California

Posted: 4/16/2014 11:29:37 PM
Yes if you can get hospice things will look a lot different.
They are there for the family as much as the patient.
Her Dr can order it.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 168,696
September 2004
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Loc: Northern California

Posted: 4/16/2014 11:31:19 PM
Oops I see you mentioned a hospice nurse.
See if you can get the other services they provide

Ask me about backups!

PeaNut 468,133
May 2010
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Posted: 4/16/2014 11:35:52 PM
The fact that your children want to stay and pull together as a family (even in spite of the way your MIL has treated them in the past) says a lot about how you raised them. And this:

I am worried for DH who did not handle his sister's death well AT ALL, and terribly worried for SIL who has lost so much already. I see her falling apart in small ways, but she remains a rock to everyone else.
says a lot about what a compassionate person you are.

I agree with the others about bringing in the hospice people for a talk with your whole family. My experience with hospice is that they are pretty amazing people and can help you sort out your feelings.

As for yourself, no, you aren't a bitch at all. You are pretty amazing, actually. We do what we need to do and sometimes it's a very difficult path.

When I was caring for my mom, my aunts, the nurses, reminded me to take a breather, take some time, to take care of myself. You can't care for someone else if you aren't caring for yourself. I know how difficult it is, but take a walk around the block, go for a cup of coffee, whatever. It sounds like you and SIL can support each other in this.

Hugs to you.


PeaNut 169,795
September 2004
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Loc: Adelaide, Australia

Posted: 4/17/2014 12:28:22 AM
The simple fact is you cannot stop this train. She is dying and when someone dies it hurts. DH will cope when it happens. Not perhaps in a way you would expect but it is his journey of grief and he needs to deal with it in his own way just the same as everyone else will deal in their own way.
Step back and let others take control of this and look after yourself so when the time comes things will still happen as needed.
Hugs to you and yours.

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PeaNut 255,928
April 2006
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Loc: Hiding in my closet

Posted: 4/17/2014 8:09:25 AM
No advice, other than a virtual hug.



PeaNut 294,285
January 2007
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Loc: Minnesota

Posted: 4/17/2014 8:11:31 AM
I am so sorry. Please, give yourself credit for being a loving, compassionate woman. You have handled yourself really well.

My FIL was a difficult person, but at the end, the last week, became almost childlike and sweet. I think all you can do is accept the blessing that is, and deal minute by minute.

Hugs and prayers for you and your family.



PeaNut 315,499
May 2007
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Loc: Midwest

Posted: 4/17/2014 8:32:18 AM

Sar just craves her acceptance and love and she is finally getting it these last few days

then that's her last memory of her grandmother. a positive, loving one. If your kids say they want to stay, then let them stay. they sound old enough to be able to handle the passage of life.

When my dad died, also after a long illness, it took me awhile to process it. We were so focused on caring for him, and just getting through the day to day that everything else came to a halt. My insurance expired, I had no idea until I got pulled over the same week of his death, I had to call the insurance company to get a new card. I still remember telling my agent, who is also my parents agent, that dad had died and I just didn't register that the new card had come in the mail.

Give yourself time, it sounds like your SIL is a very strong woman, if you can, be there when she falls apart, she's going to need it.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 475,028
July 2010
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Loc: Northern VA

Posted: 4/17/2014 8:44:54 AM

We sat with my mom around the clock and when everyone left her room to go get something to eat, she passed.

This happens more often than you might think. Very often. It's almost as if the patient is trying to be strong for the family, and when the family isn't there they relax and die.

I have nothing to add to what others have said, except to repeat the advice about using hospice resources -- chaplain, social worker, etc. They can come and talk to your kids, separately or with you. They will affirm whatever it is the kids want to do. Personally I think it's best for them to be with your MIL when she dies, if that's what they want.

You asked what are the signs at the end. (ask hospice for info about this also) -- The skin changes are one, but the most obvious sign is changes in breathing. You may notice she will have long pauses between breathes, and the sound will change.

Also, don't forget that people who are not responsive can still hear you. So keep talking to her, and have your kids talk to her if they want to. Play music, read, etc.

And remember to take care of yourself after she dies. Right now it's all focused on taking care of MIL, but once that's over it will be an abrupt change for you.


PeaNut 472,567
June 2010
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Posted: 4/17/2014 8:57:45 AM
Offer your kids the choice, but continue to check in with them as her health continues to deteriorate.

"You know Grandma is a lot worse now, are you still wanting to remain here at the house?"


PeaNut 421,100
April 2009
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Loc: Up the North Shore

Posted: 4/17/2014 9:20:56 AM
You are going through the motions, really normal feeling and still trying to run the rest of life. It's normal to feel like this. The best is to be there for your family. It's hard, don't get me wrong, because your also grieving. If the kids are old enough, ask them if they want to be there, if they do explain what will happen. I watched my aunt and grandfather pass away and it is something you will never forget, the sounds and as a younger teen it could be really upsetting.
Is there someone you DH can talk to (a priest, counselor, maybe time to look into a therapy) so he can can handle this.
My thoughts and prayers for you and your family through this time.


PeaNut 598,310
December 2013
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Posted: 4/17/2014 9:34:23 AM
I *think* everything you are feeling is normal. I would be totally overwhelmed too. I can offer you prayers and hugs.

You are certainly not a bitch. I would think you are one stretched thin mama.

Hospice will be able to give you some helpful counselling. One thing they taught me and sometimes it helps when life gets overwhelming is :

This is me.
I am here.
I am alive.
I will cope.

You just meditate on each line taking deep breaths. It's not a quick fix but it can help when you think you can't take another moment of sadness.

You will be in my prayers.


PeaNut 596,083
October 2013
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Posted: 4/17/2014 11:14:59 AM
You are getting lots of great advice here. Hugs being sent your way.


PeaNut 514,615
July 2011
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Posted: 4/17/2014 11:30:20 AM
Sometimes we just have to take things day by day, or hour by hour, and sometimes minute by minute. As many have said, I too would give your children a choice. I'd also say that staying home doesn't mean that they have to watch her die. It can be extremely powerful to be in the home, together, during this time - even if the children hit a point when they don't want to see her. It may mean a lot to them to be there for your husband and SIL and you.


PeaNut 343,496
October 2007
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Posted: 4/17/2014 1:46:11 PM
I was dealing with this exact thing last year. My father died April 21st. He was in hospice also. Several months before he died, he was the nastiest most foul-mouthed person I have ever met. I didn't know him!!! I know he even knew some of those words!

The hospice nurses said that was normal, some kind of changes in the brains chemicals. It literally brought me to my knees. Then he changed back into my Daddy again and I was so happy.

He lived about 5 months completely bed bound. He also lived 2 days taking 3-4 breaths a minute.

You can never tell when someone is going to die, just try to provide her with the best care possible and take gentle care of yourself and your family.

My prayers are with your family.


PeaNut 3,030
February 2000
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Loc: GA

Posted: 4/17/2014 1:53:47 PM
Thank you all so much for your advice and support - it truly means SO much!

The nurse just left and I ran into work to take care of a couple of 'can't wait anymore' items and then I'm heading back to the house. The nurse said that we are down to days now, although she can't pinpoint exactly when of course. She said we are going to have to take it hour by hour.

I talked further with my daughter last night and she is adamant that she stay home with us, although she may not stay in the room with us - and I am fine with that. She said that she'd rather struggle with being around her dying than feel guilty her whole life that she wasn't there in the end. My sweet girl…my gosh.

I'd rather have them near me for sure, but it's not about me. I need to talk to DS more, but he is out of town playing golf tournament today and won't be in until later tonight. I'm going to try to carve out some alone time with him then and see where he stands now that things have started going downhill so quickly. DH on the other hand, thinks he is made of steel and doesn't need to talk to anybody. I agree with the poster (I'm sorry I can't remember who) that said maybe being around her during the illness and transitioning into death will make it easier to handle than when his sister died. I hope you are right - it makes complete sense!

I do so appreciate this outlet and for all of your kind words. YOu have all made me feel so much better and that means the world to me. THANK YOU!

To those of you who have been here before - words can't express how sorry I am for your losses. It just seems like too much to bear sometimes.


All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. ~ Winston Churchill

Mom to beautiful, creative, talented and kind Sarrie, 14, and handsome, intelligent, wise, and witty Dev, 16
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