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Thread: restless dying

  1. #1
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    restless dying

    My grandmother recently fell and broke her hip (yes the one who is 95 and we just saw for her birthday). She did not recover well and went to hospice on Friday, passed away yesterday. I talked to my aunt briefly and she said it wasn't going well. I wasn't sure how much my mom would say, she tends to be more un-emotional. But I talked to her a couple times yesterday and she did tell me it wasn't going well. Apparently my grandmother was 'restless dying'. She was very agitated. My mom has sat with many people including her best friend during the process of dying but they were all quiet, more in a coma than agitated. So this was hard of course. She did say that the hospice staff said this happens when there is a lot that is unprocessed from a life that people are still working out. My mom told me that she promised to not do that to us kids, and I told her it was okay because she really wouldn't have a choice.

    Still it makes me think that there is time and space for my mom, really my parents, to have to get a little more in touch with their emotional sides, maybe process the stuff of life. It is NOT something they would naturally do. However this is my area more than my siblings, the meditation and self reflection and all the wonderful (totally sarcastic here) stuff that goes with it. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.

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    It sounds like you will be the one to break the cycle. Breaking patterns has been one of my larger challenges in life. Kudos to you for the emotional heavy lifting you are working on.

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    I'm sorry for your loss, Zoe. Everyone hopes and prays for a peaceful death, yet sometimes death is not peaceful, which is very frightening for loved ones.
    I'm sorry for your loss and you mother's pain.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry to hear this, ZG. Your grandmother's experience reminds me of when DH and I rented the upstairs in a Victorian house right after we were married. The person who owned it and who had lived in it for decades was an elderly woman who lived downstairs.

    One night (it was a night that we were actually having a Christmas party!) we heard moaning from downstairs and went down to check on her and she had fallen. She was taken to the hospital, and then rehab, but she went downhill quickly. She came home and had a home health nurse staying with her, but a couple of weeks later she died. The nurse asked us if we had heard her the night she died, because she was very, very agitated, and definitely NOT "going gently into that good night." We hadn't heard her, but to your point, I have often thought about how her restless dying contrasted with that of my beloved great-aunt's, who had the presence of mind when she knew she was dying to set out her important papers where we could easily find them before calling the ambulance. She died quietly that night.

    I think you are right--gosh, it's amazing how one's physical body can cry out for an authentic life, even at the end. I mentioned in another thread the book Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani, and it's a great cautionary tale for people who have repressed desires their whole life.

    My sympathies, ZG. It doesn't make it easier when our loved ones resist dying, but she is now at peace, and it sounds like you and your parents are learning a valuable lesson.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I dont know why you all are assuming this restlessness at the end of life is based in psychology of the individual. It could be, and likely is, a physiological reaction to bodily functions and medications, etc.

    in other words, they are not getting the right drugs! Or something.

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    Iris, I am not assuming anything about psychological states. We had a dog that we had to euthanize once, and his passing was anything but peaceful, and I think that the vet did not give him enough sedative or the right sedative. He had a very fulfilled life.
    People, are of course, assumed to be more complex. Yet many people have happy, fulfilled lives, yet are faced with unmanaged pain, etc., which makes dying non-peaceful.
    I think it is physiological, not psychological.
    My priest once told me to pray to St. Joseph for my father. St. Joseph is, along with being the patron saint of selling your house quickly, the patron saint of a peaceful death.
    I figure it doesn't hurt to do so.

  7. #7
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    I dont know why you all are assuming this restlessness at the end of life is based in psychology of the individual. It could be, and likely is, a physiological reaction to bodily functions and medications, etc.

    in other words, they are not getting the right drugs! Or something.
    That's true, I guess. My mother had a good shot of morphine just after she reached under her butt and handed me her inheritance: $60 cash out of the $100 I had given her for Christmas a couple of weeks before. She had a very quiet passing.

    Linking this to bae's thread on Swedish Death Cleaning, I was blessed to have been able to get through clearing out her possessions in 20 minutes. I pray my kids have it almost that easy.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    I dont know why you all are assuming this restlessness at the end of life is based in psychology of the individual. It could be, and likely is, a physiological reaction to bodily functions and medications, etc.
    +1 maybe some people's bodies are restless when dying, well their bodies too do realize they are dying and it's what the physical organism fights all it's life, to stay alive. Morphine would calm most anyone down of course. Judging people while dying or for how they die seems so uncool, I realize it's not easy to witnesses it of course, so yea it sucks to witness a painful death.

    She did say that the hospice staff said this happens when there is a lot that is unprocessed from a life that people are still working out. My mom told me that she promised to not do that to us kids, and I told her it was okay because she really wouldn't have a choice.
    yes she probably doens't have a choice, besides just because a hospice staff says it doesn't mean much or even if there is any truth to the theory. I mean it's not science, it's one biased (we are all biased, that's why science) hospice workers opinion as far as I can tell. So yea they likely have seen many deaths and have this belief but they are also subject to their own confirmation bias etc.

    Still it makes me think that there is time and space for my mom, really my parents, to have to get a little more in touch with their emotional sides, maybe process the stuff of life. It is NOT something they would naturally do. However this is my area more than my siblings, the meditation and self reflection and all the wonderful (totally sarcastic here) stuff that goes with it. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.
    yea there might be benefit to that (journaling etc.) whether or not it really has anything to do with how one will die (there is some research on it being useful but none as far as I know on how it effects one's death). I'm not sure everyone is equally emotional by nature though.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

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    Iris, that is just what the hospice staff told my mother. It could be totally untrue and the body is just in pain or restless. We all honestly don't have any way of knowing! So maybe they caused my mom some distress she doesn't need at this time,

  10. #10
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    And some people react badly to morphine, or to the amount of morphine (or other sedative) they're given.
    I would take the hospice nurse's explanation with more than a little salt.

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