There are few things more difficult than saying goodbye to a dying parent. In between talking to doctors and family members, not to mention trying to cope emotionally, what affairs do you need to get in order?
Death is the last taboo, and we learn about it in sterile hospital corridors from doctors who are trained to help us heal, not to help us die. And yet, theirs will be the only voice many of us will hear when we make end-of-life decisions with our parents.
9 Pieces of Bedside Wisdom to Help Your Parent Pass Peacefully
1. Recognize the signs
You may see signs that Dad is disinterested, resigned, or depressed. He might withdraw and stop participating Understand this is natural and is his way of preparing to say goodbye.
You might find that Mom wants to talk about the end of her life, and no matter how uncomfortable it is for you, let her. Ask her how she feels about dying. Talk about what kind of passage she imagines.
3. Remember to ask yourself: Whose life is it, anyway?
Sometime in the last few centuries, Americans turned death over to medical institutions. In doing so, we give up our personal and spiritual freedom at a time when we most need it. If we believe our parents are entitled to their own choices, their dying becomes easier.
4. Consider Mom’s quality of life
Help Mom make the best decisions for herself by understanding the probabilities of success, the amount of damage the solution will cause and the probable quality of life if the new treatment is successful. Let her know it’s her choice whether or not to proceed.
5. Help Dad communicate his wishes
Everyone knows they should have a will, but between 40 and 60 percent of us do not have advance care directives, which are legal documents that spell out our wishes for the end-of-life experience. Help Dad fill his out and give copies to family members and doctors.
6. When they can’t speak for themselves, honor the surrogate
A health care surrogate is the person who will make decisions for them if they are unable to speak for themself. The choice should always be for the person who best knows and is willing to adhere to the parent’s own wishes without bringing a personal agenda.
7. Explore hospice
Hospice care does not prolong life but offers comfort treatment for a dying parent at the end stages. Most people say they don’t want to live their last days in a hospital, yet most people don’t get into hospice care soon enough to allow for a truly peaceful ending.
8. Know your limits and do your best
If your emotional limit is ten minutes, stay ten minutes, and then leave. If you’re exhausted, take time out for yourself. Your responsibility is for your parent’s peace and for your own physical and mental health.
9. Try to find closure
In the last days when it seems there is nothing left to do but grieve, ask yourself, “What will I always wish I said but won’t be able to?” When your parent is dying on their own terms, death can be a beautiful time of bonding and mending.
Thank you to parentgiving.com for this content.