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Old 08-08-2013, 02:23 PM   #1
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What I learned

My husband died three weeks after a massive stroke, and two weeks after entering a residential hospice. He was 71, I am 75. It would have been cheaper to have opted for home hospice, as then I wouldn't have had the residential costs. But I just didn't feel capable of handling him alone and we had the money for 2 months if necessary. This was a tough decision, even though we both had living wills and advance directives. One daughter in law wanted to put in a gastric feeding tube and try rehab (she was a rehab nurse). But I knew he wouldn't want to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home unable to walk, bathe, dress, toilet or even to read and watch TV as he had lost central vision in both eyes. The hospice staff were wonderful and supportive, but it is still extremely difficult watching someone starve to death in front of your eyes. Intellectually I knew that he was not hungry or thirsty (he was able to swallow small amounts of fluids in hospice, but not enough to maintain life). I know that the dying process releases endorphins and other chemicals that cause euphoria, and during the final dying process, which lasted 2 1/2 days, he received regular doses of sublinguinal morphine. Still, it hurts like hell. Still, I choose this for myself under similar conditions.

 
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:36 AM   #2
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Re: What I learned

Im really sorry you had to go through this. I see this every day in my professional life. Your story brings up the issue of having your paperwork in order and having that important conversation with our loved ones. Knowing what they would want, how they feel about end of life, is very important.
Rest assured that you did the right thing and that your husband had everything he needed to be comfortable during those last days. Your loss is very real- hospice should be offering you 12 or 13 months of bereavement services. Take advantage of them! Youll have times when the need to talk is overwhelming. Even if you dont have it now, when it happens, know that the hospice is there for you - still.
I wish you the strength to continue on- and credit you for doing exactly what needed to be done.
God Bless
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:25 AM   #3
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Re: What I learned

You are right, the Bereavement counselor at the Hospice called and came to see me last week. This is an unexpected benefit of Hospice. She is bringing me something to read this week. I was glad to talk to her, because I had some things to get off my chest and couldn't talk about it with my family.

 
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:00 AM   #4
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Re: What I learned

Arleeda, I am so sorry for the loss of your husband, and the events that led up to his death. It is frightening and heartwrenching to see someone we love change so drastically and slip away from us. I hope you have good friends and family support in addition to the bereavement counselling. I am so glad you got hospice involved in his care, as you will benefit from their services as well. You made the right choice in having him transferred to in-residence care, as caring for him physically by yourself would have been exhausting and left you no time to grieve or deal with the emotions and care for yourself. That needs to be your priority now, to take care of you and allow time to grieve and heal. Eventually your memories of his dying will be replaced by happier memories of when you were together, healthy and vibrant. That will give you relief in time. Bless you and take care.

 
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:46 AM   #5
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Re: What I learned

When my grandfather died, my mother said to me "She couldn't say a kind word about Dad when he was alive, and now he has become the most wonderful man who every lived!" I see how that happens. I think my husband's problems over the last 6-7 years were TIAs and not alcohol-related, dehydration or panic attacks--all of which he was diagnosed with until the neuro-psych testing two years ago. Now I think mainly of the person he was during our first 25 years and wonder how I could have been so mean the last 6 years. I wish I had been more supportive of him, because deep-down he was still a kind and considerate man. I wish that when he got the Viagra to try to rekindle the way I felt about him before all this happened that I would have been more encouraging --or at least sympathetic--instead of saying "NO!" The counselor reminded me that he did have his faults and that not everyone is cut out to be a perfect caretaker. I did the best I could given who I am, and in the end I was there to advocate for him when his son wanted to send him to rehab. He was so miserable over not being able to drive, I am sure that being totally dependent in a nursing home would have been hell.

 
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:28 PM   #6
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Re: What I learned

You know, none of us are perfect spouses under the stresses of daily living and when incorrectly diagnosed illnesses, like TIAs are happening, it changes a person and our response to them. You did do the best you knew how with the situation you were in, and caretaking can be exhaustive, lonely, with little rewards at times. I'm sure he felt your caring connection and support when it mattered most, and you made an unselfish decision to let him go, knowing he wouldn't want to live totally dependant on others for everything. We do have selective memory, and the good ones will last and the bad ones will fade. That is the kindest thing to happen for our healing. Who wants to hang onto anger, resentment and bad memories after a loved one has gone? It is nature's way of cleansing the debris from our minds and our hearts. Guilt is part of that debris and best to let go of it. It serves no purpose and perpetuates our anguish during our grief period. There is some peace in knowing he is not suffering anymore.

 
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:21 PM   #7
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Re: What I learned

Continue to use the hospice services. It may have been unexpected to you, but Federal law requires them to provide a minimum of 12 months of bereavement to you..take advantage of it. THey can also refer you to support groups, community resources and all sorts of help if you need it.

What you are feeling right now is normal. Know that and be kind to yourself. You are still here and you DO have to focus on YOU right now and not live in the past...sending you prayers of strength in this difficult time.
Nikki
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