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How do you know when death is near?

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Old 04-27-2006, 04:11 PM   #1
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epse HB User
How do you know when death is near?

My father in law is dying. Cancer that started in his colon has now spread to his lungs, liver, pancreas, and most everywhere in the stomach area. Two months ago his doctor gave him 2 months to live. He is still with us, but is now in the hospital. They have had to give him blood and Lasix (sp) to redce fluid in the feet. He is skin and bones. The tumors can be felt all in the stomach region. Pain is unbearable. Right now they are giving him Demoral (sp) every 2 hours. How long will he suffer? It is heartbreaking.

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Old 04-28-2006, 06:01 AM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Ekris3 HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

After watching my father die of prostate cancer that had spread to the bones, liver and brain, I thought I knew what to expect at the end of life. It was just awful. However, a year later when it was my Mom's time, it was totally different. And she had breast cancer that had spread to the bones, liver and they thought the brain. It was even worse. My Dad went pretty fast in retrospect, but my Mom lingered for a very long time. My point is I guess you never really know when death is near. We thought (and were told) my Mom was very near death about 3 times before she actually passed away. It was heartbreaking. I hope your FIL can go quickly and in peace. You might ask for something stronger for the pain. Both my parents were on heavy duty morphine in the end and even though it seemed to me they were still hurting, the drs and hospice people assured us that they were comfortable. My heart goes out to you.

Old 04-28-2006, 07:57 AM   #3
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TtDream HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

When I die I hope I don't linger on for long at all.
I have seen it with family members itís a cruel way to go.

Old 04-28-2006, 08:25 AM   #4
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Sharon76 HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

Hi Epse

I am really sorry to hear about your father in law it is very sad and painful watching and waiting for the end so that they are out of pain.

You wanted to know how long befor his time comes.........i am da health professional and i work with terminally ill patients, we provide palliative care every day in a calm in patient setting so i can offer you what i know and hopefully it may help you a little bit

The thing with cancer is that it is extremely painful towards the end, and usually all medication stops apart from pain relief, it is VITAL that your father in law is getting regular pain relief to help with the ease, and if his pain worsens then a medical profession should review his pain care and adjust if necessary.

The cancer ends a persons life by eventually shutting down all the organs, it is mainly the heart..... the heart can no longer cope with the disease

You will know when the medics think the end is near as they will discuss with the family to stop all blood products, any IV fluids he may be getting and just concentrate as his pain relief. As this will give him the most peaceful end possible.

Also, some people do not believe this but i do as i have witnessed it, many people sufferring choose to give up, they give up fighting, give up breathing and what the pain to end. Your father in law may still be fighting, if he was a strong willed man there is a high chance he is still trying to fight this. Eventually he will stop fighting and then nature will happen.

Im sorry but a definite time scale cant be given as it is down to him as a person, the disease, the drugs etc.

Also , a quick story for you.............a patient in work defied all doctors and he was constantly fighting luekemia, this went on for 3 months......eventually his wife said to him " its ok, i love you, and you can let go, i will be fine. Please dont fight anymore"

3 hours later he died, peacefully and it was so lovely. His wife reassured him, even though it was heartbreaking for her to let him go, she knew she had to do it.

I hope his sufferring ends soon, for everybody involved. Also i hope this has helped you a little bit

Old 04-30-2006, 10:48 AM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Brighton, UK
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shadowcharmed HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

I too watched a relative die from cancer. With my aunt, she collapsed on a Tuesday and just didn't wake up. She was initially simply asleep, then more like unconscious by about Thursday, then the palliative care nurses came and she was moved onto a hospital bed in the dining room. She had IV pain medication but nothing else, no fluids, no feeding, no blood etc. We watched as her organs gradually gave up - her colour changed as her kidneys and liver failed and her breathing went from laboured to very very shallow.
The family were all in the house and we would take it in turns to sit by her bed, sometimes reading or talking to her, more often than not just sitting and holding her hand.
Then on Saturday night, for the first time, everyone went off to do their own thing - her father had travelled home to get some clean clothes, her younger sister had gone to bed early, her older sister and I had gone up to another bedroom to chat and eventually to sleep, her son had gone to bed and her husband (for the first time in 5 days) decided to go and lie down on the sofa bed in the next room. By midnight, the house was absolutely silent for the first time since she collapsed. And at 1.26am, she died. It seemed to me that she had waited until no-one was in the room with her, we were all peacefully asleep, then she simply let go.
While she was on that hospital bed, it was clear to all of us that this was the beginning of the end, but no-one could tell us how long she might last (and I'm glad they didn't try to guess). It was obviously a very sad time, but it seemed very peaceful and there was a palpable sense of the belief that she was finally out of her suffering.
My thoughts go out to you and your family going through this, and all I can say is don't try to second guess when it will happen but it will probably be very clear to you all when it is close.

As an aside, inexplicably I woke up in my bed with a jolt and glanced at the clock at 1.26am, the exact time the nurse told us she had died. I had no idea what had woken me up but my heart was beating like a drum in my chest. I laid still for a minute, then started to hear noises downstairs (it was the nurse phoning a doctor to advise of the death, then waking my uncle to tell him). I can't explain it rationally but I like to think that my aunt woke me to say goodbye!

Old 05-07-2006, 07:41 AM   #6
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delrae4753 HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

my mom died march the 4th from metastatic breast cancer that covered her entire abdomal organs she suffered up until 10 min before she died she quit taking in food about 2 weeks before her death a few days before she died her color seem to change to a grayish whit color just before her deather her nail beds started turining blue about 2 hrs later she jjust went but she had a gurgle sound in her chest approximate 30 min beforehand. she just seemed to suffer but the glory of her face after she died was a beautiful glow knowing she went to be with my dad and the Lord.
i hope you can have a sign one never know no 2 people go the same each is different my heart goes out to you.
To live my life to its fullest and to put all my trust in God.

Last edited by delrae4753; 05-07-2006 at 07:43 AM.

Old 05-12-2006, 10:29 PM   #7
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Gloversville, New York, U.S.
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hastrix HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

I'm not an expert in the field of death and dying, but I believe your father should be in a hospice not a hospital. Hospitals must follow the dosage guidelines laid down by the drug company that makes the pain-killer. A hospice on the other hand is not restricted in this way; a hospice allows the PATIENT to determine how much pain he/she is willing to endure. In fact, a hospice can put a patient into a coma if the patient desires it. I urge you to check out the nearest hospice.

Old 05-17-2006, 06:15 PM   #8
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Rushtonbear HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

Hi,I know you all suffered losses,watching someone die is very frustrating and sad.But I try to think that Jesus died on a cross,a brutal death,and my mom always said we all have a cross to bare.I guess some go easier than others,but we all go out with nothing except our love and what we learned in this miserable trip.

Old 05-20-2006, 03:44 AM   #9
john the bomb
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john the bomb HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

I am so sorry for what is happening to you and your family.It is hard to watch someone die like that.One reply said it all by emsr2d2.I do agree that sometimes a very ill person knows when to die.My mother died in December.She died of complications of kidney disease and she closed her eyes and died peacefully.I asked the nurse who said that my mom in a way knew that I could take care of myself and my sister-my sister took it harder as she is a more vulnerable sort-and thus my mom just closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep,if you will.

Old 05-24-2006, 10:12 AM   #10
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Wausau, Wi, United States
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Shelly0486 HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

My mom died oct 1 05. just this past year. she had gotten some of her funeral arrangements made already in I'd say around September. She had joined the town's church that buried my father in the summer. The day she died she had the funeral things laying out on her kitchen table where she always sat. We found them when after she was passed.

I'm so sick sometimes. I wish I would have been there. I was at work. She knew it was time. She needed to be with my dad.

Old 05-25-2006, 03:32 PM   #11
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Mothertime HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

My father had cancer but the medication got to his heart before the cancer could take his life. Call me strange but I think they know when they are going. Two days before my father passed away he was having coffee with me(he lived with me) and was happy as could be. (he was still independent and active) He was talking about what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go. The night that he passed away in our home he was watching the races and my husband and I went to a neighbors to play cards. When we got home he was rolling on the floor with my 3 yr old. I asked him if he was in pain and he said no. Then I noticed that ALL of his laundry was done and his room was spotless! I just thought ummmm okay because he never had done that before. You think maybe he wanted to make sure things were done before he went? He passed away in his rocking chair that nite.

Old 11-12-2007, 03:25 PM   #12
Join Date: Nov 2007
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maryahome HB User
Re: How do you know when death is near?

My mom had breast cancer that was in remission for ten years, and then all of a sudden her back started hurting. The doctors poo pooed her pain and sent her to chiropractors and the like. I'll tell you the whole story so this doesn't happen to someone else's mother. She was getting cortizone shots and tens unit and even had xrays, but they didn't catch a tumor on her spine. Finally like a few weeks later, she was in too much pain to do anything, so she was admitted to the hospital and by then, the tumor had broken a bone in her spine. Finally they start radiation, after her suffering for a month. The doctor said, it's not an active lesion, we will give her hormones and she will recover. But she went into a nursing home and did not recover. Every minute you are in a nursing home, is two minutes closer to death. She got bedsores, she fell, possibly breaking a rib, she was soiled and wet alot unless we complained, they let someone who had the flu visit her, which she caught their flu and then got very sick. By that time, she was in too much pain and refused to cooperate with any more testing. Then her mind started to go (this all at a great nursing home, imagine a bad one!). She didn't know time or date, there was much confusion, some good days but mostly bad. Finally she refused food and wrote on a piece of paper that she didn't know how to swallow anymore. The nurses said, "sometimes when you have cancer, its not the tumor that kills you but the toxins go into the brain and make you like happened to my mom." So we knew then that she was dying. She stopped eating and drinking after a few days, stopped talking to us, then one night she didn't shut her eyes at all, and couldn't shut them, she stayed like that a couple days, during that time she was also raising her arms as if to reach for someone, but it was a reflex reaching, nothing more. Then finally she had raspy breathing and passed within a few hours of the breathing becomming raspy. It is a big decision to put someone on hospice care especially when you've been told that the patient will get better, but they do get better pain relief management that way and no more testing done which is alot for an older person to go through anyway. So we don't really know what finally took her, and I often wonder if we did the right thing for her. I loved my mom, it was hard to let her go.

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