With permission, I am sharing this post she sent me, because it is a wonderful testimony to the loving care her mother received, and the persistence required of the family to be sure she got it! The Moyers series on death "On Our Own Terms" could have used this as an example of how Hospice care for the end of life when a person is so terribly ravaged by disease, is the best option. However, please note that Ruth and the others were following *her mother's wishes*--- and that is the important thing-- no one should be forced into someone else's idea of "a good death". Thanks you very much for sharing this moving account with us all.
How to describe it: my sister and I were with her, talking to her, kissing her and holding her hands. It was both terrible and beautiful. She just stopped breathing, had a few last breaths quite far apart, and her heart stopped. She was in no pain and as best we could tell there was no anxiety. The doctor told us the morphine would prevent any anxiety.
She had been basically non-responsive except to pain for a few days. This after she had broken her hip while lying in bed here at home. We took her in for x-rays and they wanted to keep her to set up a pain protocol and that is where she died. One of her daughters was with her 24 hours a day. They did a simple hip repair (took 15 minutes) to stabilize the bone which was only done to lessen the pain. Test results in the hospital showed she had at some point in the past suffered a severe heart attack, x-ray of the hip area showed she had bone cancer (doctor thought that was why the hip broke so easily), was in renal failure, had pulmonary hypertension, and a severe urinary tract infection. She of course developed pneumonia on top of all this.
Dad had not gone in to the hospital to see her, and we convinced him that he should go for her to see him and for him to talk to her and tell her it was okay to go. It was beautiful what he did and she died about 3 hours after he left. He had sat and held her hand and talked to her, told her he loved her and that it was okay to go, that he would miss her and would always love her.
As much as I know we did the right things, there is sometimes some guilt feelings about denying her life sustaining support. I know that will ease and I know that we did what she wanted, no matter how hard it was. Even the doctor felt we had made the right decisions, so I have that to hold on to, and all her daughters agreed on every course of events.
She was cremated, as was her desire, and on the 23rd we are having a memorial service for her in Allegheny State Park in New York, one of her most favorite places in the world. We are taking pictures of her throughout her life to display and many of the things she made and having food catered, and will have a family gathering to celebrate her life after the minister has finished the religious part of the day.
Sorry for rambling, I hope I was able to answer your question. This has helped, to write this out and sort out my jumbled thoughts a little. If you feel that this information is okay for the list, I don't mind you posting it for the others.
My love and thanks to everyone on the list, I will continue to lurk for a while. It has been so comforting through the stress, and I know it will be for a time to come.
I have just contacted Jansen Hospice nearby to find out what our options are as far as palliative, non-invasive care if she is not responding to the meds. Apparently, Jansen has a hospice program in the nursing home Mom is in. And I also want to find out about possibly moving her back home if it looks like there is no option for her, except extensive invasive tests and perhaps surgery. Thank God for the Moyers program. It couldn't have come at a better time to help my West-coast sister and I feel less isolated and better informed as to our (and Mom's) choices.