Actually, in my posting, I wasn't particularly thinking about the moment of death, but the time leading up to it. Yes, sometimes there is a "lost connection" as part of the preparation for separation that death inevitably brings, it is common for the person approaching death to "withdraw" in some way. Yes, sometimes death is heralded by a morphine rich final sleep, and I have to say, having sat with many people as they have died, that I personally would far rather leave this world in that way than in pain and distress.
Irene, I realise that when you started your thread it was about your friend who is deteriorating. I do hope that these last postings will not upset you, or anyone else, but I think it is good if somewhere, and in a safe and caring forum like this, we can talk about death. It is often what people fear most, but are able to talk about least. Sarah
I also agree there are many moving postings here except I don't think that everyone who dies of cancer (or anything else) necessarily experiences some kind of transformational and compensatory deep peace and resolution at the moment of death. I think that puts a gloss on what is actually just a morphine rich final sleep. Matt Seaton, Ruth Picardie's partner, writes movingly in 'Before I say Goodbye' of his feelings during her last days and weeks and speaks of the ways in which he felt he had lost connection with her as her death approached.
Yes I totally agree Seabird with what you say - particuarly as most come from people with secondaries...it seems to me the important thing for people is to simply take their cue from the peson who is ill and to be a comforting presence for them....so far in this awful business I have found people who have understood that a tremendous help to me.
There are some really moving and beautiful postings here, and such a loving understanding of the importance of just "staying with" those we love when they are dying. Knowing there are no absolute right or wrong things to say or do, but that just sharing the moment whether in silence, quiet conversation, or laughter means so much. As does touch, the holding of hands, the gentle physical presence of someone who loves you. It takes great courage to be with someone who is dying, especially if this is completely outside our usual experience. But often people find that in the end it is not frightening at all, just very moving, gentle and peaceful. Most of the people above have been writing about friends or loved ones who have died of cancer and we all know that they have been to hell and back with fear, and painful, difficult treatments, and disappointments and anger and despair, and yet, once all that has passed there very often does come a deep peace, a quiet, a resolution of some kind. I'm not quite sure what I'm saying here, just don't be afraid. Sarah
Have sent my friend a funny card today. She always appreciates them. She is on steroids now as she wasn't eating. She now has a healthy appetite but sadly, some people have made fun of her enjoying her food, in her words, they offer her treats then make fun of her for eating them and getting fat. I was gob smacked at the insensitivity of this!
My funny card had 2 women eating chocolate on the front. I told her to enjoy her food. It's unbelievable that anyone would deny her this small pleasure in her very sad day to day life.
Theres nowt a odd as folk.
I'm planning to visit. Will tell her she need not speak, we'll just sit, I like the idea of a gentle massage of her hands and arms. I had this during my chemo and it was very therapeutic.
Thank you all so much, it has really helped and you have given me ideas to help my sweet and dear friend.
I am so sorry to hear that your friend is deteriorating. It is so hard when you have to watch someone go downhill. My friend from work brought her wedding forward from late September to early April as her fiance had cancer (a new primary after a preimary and a secondary which he fought and beat) he was given 30 rads to the new tumour but unfortunately this did not resolve the problem. As he had stem cell transplant last year he was unable to have further chemo or surgery. He was told in March that there was no further treatment available. He was 37 and passed away on Thursday. 6 weeks ago we were honoured to share their wedding day, this week we will be attending his funeral.
The day I was told that he was unable to undergo any further treatment I was due to go to their house that evening ... I was initially nervous of seeing him and worried about how to act ..... once there my fears were dispelled. He was no different to the man I was used to seeing, he acted the same and he was keen to know how I was getting on and saying how I must look after myself etc.
I have mets and met a lovely lady 3 years ago at the clinic who also had mets (but in a different area to mine) and we became very close. She started to deteriorate in the spring of last year and although she had a husband and a 14 year old son her husband was in complete denial and never went with her to her appointments so I used to take her.
She ended up in a hospice last July and I visited her every day for the 12 weeks she was in prior to her death. I always used to say to her did she want me to talk or be quiet and I'd take my lead from her. Like Jane says, we were 'lucky' in that we were able to talk about death and funerals and we developed a kind of black humour about it and then we'd put the lid firmly back on it. I was the only person she could talk about her fears and anxieties and what was going to happen to her son when she died.
Sometimes, when she found it too hard to talk, I just used to hold her hand and stroke it which she found very comforting. I saw her the day before she died and I knew then that it was time for me to withdraw.
I have lost a very close and dear friend but I'm also so glad that I was there and we were able to talk about things that a lot of other people don't know how to broach. Maybe it was because we both have/had mets?
So sorry to hear of your friend, I understand how difficult It is as my Sister in law who was also my best friend was diagnosed with secondary bc in her lungs on the 25th feb 08 and passed away very quickly on the 6th of march, I loved her so much and knew how scared she was as we had spoke many times over the past 10 years of what If and she always asked could I be there for her,(I had looked after my mum in law through her cancer) and I feel very honourd to have done this, we spent her last day on this earth together, I washed and massaged her favorite creams into her body, I held her hand when she was afraid, and cried when she cried, we laughed at things that we remembered and had quite times, we spoke of the love that she had for her family and friends, and the joy they had given her over the years, I never expected her to pass so quickly, nor did the doctors as that day we had been told when asking should we be preparing the rest of the family(her mum had alzeimers and 87) her only sister In spain and boys, but we were told"no panic" this could go on for months!!!!
She told my brother in law (husband) what a lovely day she had had, and how at peace she felt, what lovely memories I have of that day!!!
Maybe she would like you Just to be there, holding her hand, or read to her , the fact is that you care and she knows that.
Two weeks ago her mum also passed away very peacefully, so I like to think of them together again.
I hope that I havent gone on for too long
Love and Hugs
I lost a friend a year ago. We met through a BCC healthy living day. We had been diagnosed at the same time but her mets were more advanced than mine. I felt that I had known her all my life and only wish I had met her sooner. Although I met her regularly I only met her husband once and her daughters a couple of times so didnt feel I could intrude at the end. However I visited her 3 days before she died. She was in bed and we just sat and talked quietly about family and also her condition. I was led by her and I think that when you see your friend you will know what to talk about. Visits from friends are very important.
Janette - Very sorry to hear about your friend. It must have been v hard for you not to be able to say goodbye. Cancer is such a b......d of a diseae in whichever form it takes.
Your friend still has you and her relationship with you.
If I were dying I would want my friends to remind me of the good things we had done together, to talk about what we had shared. I would also want them to acknowledge my dying..to have the courage to name it, and to enable me to speak of death so we could say goodbye, even if we didn't use that word. I would not want the obvious fact of my dying to be the unspeakable elephant in the room.
Its hard...no one gives us any practice in this.
Thankyou also to Jenny, we posted at the same time.
Jeanette, I am so sorry about your friend. Her Mum must have been really suffering,
Thankyou both for kind words. I have tried the talking about everyday things but this is very difficult. Our main things in common are work (we did the same job and she had to leave through ill health), family (I have 4 beautiful grandchildren and she knows she prob wont have any). We are both artists so thats a touchy area too. I feel like all the things that my life are centred around used to be hers too and now she has none of these.
She has no hobbies as she is so ill, she just sits at the window. Perhaps I could get her a talking book or something like that for her to listen to? She can no longer drive, has a sight problem unconnected to BC, and can barely walk due to hip pain and bone mets. She can only talk for about 15 mins as her chest then starts to hurt. It's all so awful, she is one of the worlds good people.
I think the offering support for anything is a good idea, I'll try that one. I must sign off, I am feeling pretty fragile all of a sudden.
Really sorry to hear about your friend. I have secondary breast cancer and still feel well despite all the treatments. However I have a very good idea what is ahead. Sadly I have had 2 friends pass away from this dreadful illness. The most recent was diagnosed and then died 6 months later. I visited her throughout at home and in hospital. She was able to get home in time to die peacefully in bed with her husband watching over her. The last time I saw her was in a peaceful coma, we chatted quietly. I though I might feel frightened about what to say particularly upsetting the husband more, but I need not have worried, my presence was really appreciated it demonstrates you can face the situation and not run away - some do.
I lost a partner a few years ago somewhat more suddenly (not cancer). If one can take anything positive to our cancer futures I feel at least I can make some plans for my belongings, funeral etc. Talk openly to the people I care about and help them cope to be able to talk about cancer. However one has to respect everyone copes in different ways.
Do not be sorry a place like this I feel is a chance to share your thoughts - so many of us need to air our feelings and sometimes the real crunchers are just hard to talk about with others who are not involved in cancer, one feels so alone, this forum helps to feel you are not the only one.
sad to hear about your friends condition and there is no need to apologise for your post.
Recently my condition has gone downhill leaving visible signs for friends and family to get concerned about. I have found it helpful and of great support just to have regular contact from them. My best friend will be visiting us for the second time in the past 6 weeks. Not easy as she has 2 young children and a full time career plus we live 350 miles away. I find it relaxing and it is just so nice to know that our friendship hasnt changed even if my condition has. We wer even able to confront the not what if but the whens. It was really helpful and I now know she will say something really nice at my funeral and will support my much loved family and I know they will help her. I hope this doesnt sound too morbid and I dont mean to freak others out we all come to terms with our demise in different ways. Just follow her lead and if you are able to say "Is ther anything you would like me to do that will be of help" then do.
She is lucky to have a friend like you enjoy the time you have left with each other I know I am with my friend.
It's very difficult to deal with.
Unfortunately whilst I have been going through all this BC crap I have had a friend who was going through lung cancer. Sadly she developed secondaries in her throat and did not want anyone to know. Very sadly she passed away this morning.
It has been awful recently, she has been living with her mum who simply refused visitors and seemed not to want to face anyone. I would have loved to say goodbye to my friend (who travelled with me while we were having radiotherapy at the same time - 1 and a half hours away! for 4 weeks!!) but i totally respected her mums wish. Kay will know how i feel i'm sure.
I can't really offer advice other than be yourself and talk about 'everyday' things other than illness. I know it's easier said than done because Kay often wanted to compare how we were dealing with certain things! I tried to change the subject but I thought she must want to talk about things, as I know how I like to get things off my chest! Sorry Irene, I feel like I'm rambling!! Think it must be time for bed!
Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk more!
I have been on this category before talking about my friend and how I deal with her secondary illness, myself having a primary diagnosis. I don't get to see her very often but ring, text and email regularly.
I had been unable to get hold of her for weeks but did tonight. All her treatment for lung mets has been stopped. She had a severe bad reaction to chemo after 2 lots she has ended up with nerve damage in her arm and chin. The arm is useless now so she can't write or cook a meal. She was a very talented textile artist.
The chin is numb so she can't feel when she gets food on her face and she is dribbling. She looks, sounds and feels like an invalid. Her quality of life is dire.
I will be seeing her soon, but I think she is dying and I am frightened for her and want to be able to comfort her and say the right things. Because I am 3 yrs behind her in BC terms, I know she tries really hard to be positive for me. She is a very generous person.
I don't know if anyone can offer advice, and I hope I haven't depressed anyone going through this too, I just don't have anyone in my life who understands how my friend is suffering so don't speak about it.