Helping when someone is sick or dying

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Jax created the topic: Helping when someone is sick or dying

My neighbor Henry is dying.  We were told he has no brain function so it's just a matter of time until he passes.  This is sad because he was the best part of living in our apartment.  He's a great guy.  Thankfully, his three sons have been here for the past month so I got to know them when things weren't as serious. 

What I've come to realize is that, when someone is very ill or dying, there's so little you can do.  But, there are some things that can be a big help to the family.  I'd like to share the few things I've learned so that those who've never been in this position will have someplace to start in the future.

The first thing we did was make sure they knew our phone number and that we had the spare key.  This way, if they need anything while at the hospital they can call and ask.  When you're waiting for someone to die, you don't want to have to leave and take the chance of missing that moment.  Offering to bring them anything they forgot, or to pick up some food for them makes a huge difference. 

We also offered to go to the grocery store for them since it's very easy to forget to do the normal day to day things when you're dealing with so many other less pleasant tasks.  I also took the pictures of Henry that he had on the wall and scanned them into my computer.  I'll talk to his ex-wife to see if she has any other pictures and I'll scan those also.  Then I'll put them onto a cd for everyone so they have copies. 

In smaller communities, people often cook meals for the family.  We'll probably also do this depending on how much food and money we have.  At the least we have a cake to make and we'll give it to them. 

I guess this isn't a very big list, but hopefully it'll help.  Overall, I think the most important thing is to be there for your friends and family.  Offer to help however you can.  It'll give you a little more to do and it will at least relieve some of the pressure on others by thinking they have to do everything by themselves.
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Icarus replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

First, Jax, my sympathy is with you, Carrie, and all those associated with this transformation. There is very little that we can do, and yet, there is so much that we can do, too. It is the very small things that matter to people when they are going through something like this. Having recently passed through two death-experiences with very close friends, I found myself thinking about what we can do to help. I think that you have a good list above, so I will add this list of my own to go along with it. My list is something of an "after-passing" list of ideas, and some may seem to be a bit intrusive, but we can figure out when and where to step in and help.

what I am about to post may seem like very common sense-type things to do, but when in a situation like this, it is often hard to know what to do to help someone. Death brings on all sorts of feelings and sometimes, we are caught off-guard when those feelings spring up. So, I thought that I would share this list of things that one might do to help those that are grieving.


***This is actually a list of things that a person can do to help those that are grieving in the "funeral" phase.***

1. Call the funeral director

2. Advise near relatives, friends, and neighbors.

3. Care for the one most seriously affected.

4. Select date and time of services.
*Ask family and friends for help with this and together, decide on the most appropriate time.

5. Location-
*Again, ask for help with this, listen to all parties, and decide where to hold the service.

6. Place notices in newspapers.

7. Inform business associates and distant relatives.

8. Select pallbearers.

9. Select honorary pallbearers.

10. Arrange for transportation for people that will be attending the funeral.

11. Appoint a host or hostess to receive calls, visitors, flowers, etc. for "shifts" so that the bereaved do not have to worry over such things.

12. Notify any clergy that may officiate.

13. Arrange for music for the service.

14. Arrange to have home cleaned, aired out, and food prepared. This is a time when many who are grieving will still think that they should be up and taking care of their home and visitors. Let them know that it is unnecessary.

15. Arrange for friends and relatives to come by or call after the service.

16. Arrange for the collection of life insurance, bill payments, etc.

17. Purchase "thank you" cards for the kind gestures that many will display at this time. Later on, either the bereaved, or even you, can fill these out and send them to those that were there in the darkest hour.

18. Listen to the bereaved. Remain accepting to whatever they may say, do, or however they may act towards you during this time.

19. Selection of cemetery plot.

20. Selection of casket.

21. Arrange for a family member to be the one to "dress" the body before the service. Although the funeral home will usually do this for all adults, many of them ask that a family member dress small children that have passed on.

As Jedi, we should be the ones that others can look to in their time of need. I can think of no better time to help another person than when they find themselves in grief.

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Jax replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

Thank you Icarus, that's a good list.  I'd also like to add that, if the person was a veteran, call the VA.  They know how to do everything and will make sure the person gets the military honors they deserve.  That was the best thing Carrie did, to remind the family to contact them.  It makes things go a lot smoother. 

I haven't heard from anyone yet, which is probably good.  The waiting is probably the worst part.  You want it to be over with and yet not happen at all, all at the same time.  It's important to remember that the emotions surrounding death are complicated due to humanity's complicated relationship with death.  Don't take it personally, and be prepared to absorb things you may not otherwise - and then channel that stuff into the ground so you don't become overwhelmed. 

If anyone has anything else to add, I'm sure we'd like to hear it.
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Decsuna replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

I suppose as someone who has been in medicine for a while, seen many people pass away and cut up many of their bodies, i am in a way desensitized about death. I can say, being about as close to it as people get, can be both a blessing and a curse. Seeing death so up close, hearing it, and smelling it, can bring one much closer to getting to know the great unknown, and that one frightening mystery disappears from the mind. And naturally, what one knows well, one fears much less.

Death is both beautiful and ugly at the same time. It is both fair and unfair, and it is both detested and welcomed. From a young father in love with his family having to surrender his life to a highly malignant tumor struck in the midst of strong health and family happiness, to a 95 year old beggar with nothing left, dying in agony from a broken hip - people will either fight with all their power against death to the last, or pray for it. In medicine, one can get to see it all, and observe it all as a scientist, trying to understand it, and come to own terms to it.

But perhaps on the other hand, a medic thinks of death much more than a young person "should". I find my mind often preoccupied with it, pondering it, and some would say, obsessing about it.  What comes after is still one of the greatest questions i have yet to answer, but i have little to say in terms of consolation to those who lose people they care for - other than to be mindful that feelings of grief are not for the dead, but for the living... Most commonly for oneself.
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Jax replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

Decsuna, I highly highly recommend Neale Donald Walsch's books, especially Home With God in a life that never ends.  It's the most truthful that I can tell.  Sylvia Browne also has a book that is true, at least for one group of people.  It's called Life on the Other Side.  I just had issues with some of the details.  It doesn't make them wrong, but when you include more details it's easier to question.  But I recommend Neale's books first, I think they're the best way to go.  You may want to read Conversations with God book 1-3 at first.
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Decsuna replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

I tend to be highly skeptical about things when religion of any sort comes in, but it's always a good idea to read. Thank you for the recommendations, i'll get around to reading that. *Adds it to her "to read" list*
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Jax replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

Neither of those involve religion.  Don't let the word God throw you off.  I resisted his books for a while too until my friend assured me it wasn't the Christian God or any other religious god.  And when you read it, you can see that pretty quickly.  If this helps, my aunt who is super born again freaked out when she read it and went totally off about it being evil.  That has to make it good. :maul
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Jon Barris replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

Hi Jax, to know what to do in such a situation is always difficult. The matter is simply out of our hands. I am a geriatric nurse, I don`t know anymore how many people I`ve accompanied in death, but each death has been different. Some die peacefully, others violently, others are afraid and don`t want to alone, some have even found it humorous. There are those though who want to be alone. I remember the relatives were there 24 Hrs a day, but at that very moment where they went to take a coffee the mother died. Very often though I had the feeling that any preperations, actions or rituals were for the relatives. It was they who had to cope. The dying had very often already made their peace with death.
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Jax replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

Yeah, that happens a lot because once the person is gone they feel they can finally let go (or something similar).  It's funny because we think that we want to be with family and friends at that moment, but I think it's too hard that way.  Who wants to leave to something somewhat unknown when our loved ones are right there?  But once they leave we can feel the pull home more clearly and can move on. 

I hope everyone can move on peacefully.  So many people are so scared, and that's why I recommend Neale's book because it takes the fear away.  No one need fear death, because there's only one place to go.  Either you allow yourself to go there, or you end up in a world you created because of what you thought should happen.  Or, because you can't fully let go.  My wife works with those types of people.  Sometimes they live in worlds very similar to earth.  Sometimes they live in nightmares created by their fears.  Eventually they all return home again, even the most evil.  Though it's my understanding that their transition can take a very long time so that, from the human perspective, it doesn't seem to happen.

Anyway...I believe that as soon as our beliefs about death changes, our beliefs about life will also change.  And then our world will drastically change for the better.  :-)
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Jon Barris replied the topic: Re: Helping when someone is sick or dying

Without trying to exaggerate, I think you really hit the nail on the head. Everything you said makes sense. There is a question however: if in death we continue and follow the force do relatives/friends who keep the dying in life, without knowing, using the force in opposition? Or is this a purely emotional matter? I hope the question is clear and you or someone can help me?
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