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Death and Dying - Dealing With The Restless Patient

death-and-dying-dealing-with-the-restless-patient

How to deal with the restless patient

Sadly, I know of what I type - as I write this, I'm watching my 95 year old Mom, Gertie, entering the last stages of life on earth - that stage being dying. As she lies in her hospital bed in my living room, I've learned much about dealing with the restless dying patient. And, there's much to learn.

I hope that by writing this Squidoo article, I may help others who follow in my path understand this process and learn from my tips. My Mom was quite vital until just 10 days ago so it's been a rapid education on dealing with a dying restless patient. I hope to shorten the learning curve for others.

I'm writing this article on Feb 9, 2012 as I sit next to my Mom so it's a bit of a different perspective than my normal musings which are usually more targeted to a theme. I plan on sprinkling real life examples throughout so you can get an idea of what an hour or two (until I finish this article) in a caregiver's life is like when dealing with the dying loved one.

Please read my accompanying article: When death looms - the signs and symptoms of the last moments on earth.

At the very end of this article (scroll waaaay down), there's links to some of my other senior citizen caregiving articles.

Update: Feb 10, 2012. Mom spent a bit of a restless night so I was on the phone with Hospice a few times talking about medication. Quite sadly, I got the flu yesterday but I think it's the 24 hour variety (I hope). We're hanging in there - Mom is one tough cookie and will leave us on her timeframe and that is that.

Update:Feb 11, 2012: Mom is in the last stages today. We hope she makes it through today though as today is my nephew's 30th birthday. Tomorrow would have been my sister's 59th birthday and that seems like a much better day for me to let her go. She's resting peacefully with no pain.

Update:Feb 14, 2012: We're still here. This woman is not in any hurry although she's still in no pain. She remains a joy as she comes out of her comatose state once in a while and beams me her beautiful style. Her body is shutting down so it's not long now though. I'm praying she will rest in peace - I know she will.

Final Update: Feb 15, 2012: Mom died this morning at 7:11am. Now, to those of you who follow my blog, you know that Mom, Dad and I are gambling folks so I found the time comforting. She died very peacefully surrounded by Elizabeth (an excellent caregiver), brother Mike, friend Sharyn and myself. A sense of relief followed - relief that she's no longer struggling just to exist. She will be missed greatly by all but I still have a very strong feeling that she's here with me. And, that's where she will remain. In my heart forever.

Update Feb 19th: I moved the comment section of this article to be right below the introduction. Normally, the comment section would be at the end but I found it difficult to scroll down this article a few times a day to see the comments. Pictures of my Mom's sweet face make me melt. So, please leave comments if you choose but don't feel like you have to. Thanks. Lori

Update Feb 24th: I am amazed at the number of people who have given me beautiful comments. I'm also amazed that life seems to be going on as well as can be expected. Mom's death was not tragic by any means but the loss is still here and will be here for a while. Marianne and Steve (2 great friends of mine) sent me a wonderful gift - a bereavement lamp. I wrote an article about it if you're interested: Bereavement gifts - a beautiful way to remember those who have passed.

Update June 22: I'm strong enough emotionally now to restructure this article and put the comments back down toward the bottom. So, if you visit, please scroll all the way down and leave me comments. If you're here because you have a loved one in the same situation, I wish you all peace. Heck, I wish you peace anyway!


My new ebook - Senior Citizen Caregiving 101: Things I wish I had known

Come visit my new website

After caring for Mom all those years, I became an expert in identifying good gifts for senior citizens. And, in an effort to help others who trod in my path, I started up my own website called (surprise, surprise...):

GoodGiftsForSeniorCitizens.com

If you visit my site, you'll probably find a lot of items you never knew existed but can make life much easier for both the caregiver and senior citizen.

Mom in hospital bed

Mom in hospital bed

Death and dying - dealing with the restless patient

#1: You'll learn a new language

Similar to learning a foreign language, I've learned to interpret my Mom's gutteral sounds into something I can recognize. Those dying might lose the ability to speak for themselves so your job is to be an advocate for one who can no longer be an advocate for themselves. Sometimes, this means educating visitors about the symptoms they might see, such as restlessness, incomprehensible words, a far fixed glaze.

I spoke with my wonderful Hospice nurse, Sonia, recently about the fact that Mom almost always says "No" to every questions. An interesting side story here is that, when I was 2 years old, I was hospitalized with the measles, mumps, and chicken pox all at once (ugh - yes, I do have memories of this traumatic time, albeit faint). Anyway, I was in the hospital in June on my 2nd birthday, and the nurses all wanted to give me a small party. They'd ask if I wanted a party and "No, No!" was always the answer. My nickname at GW Hospital in DC was "Little Miss No-No." Little did I realize then that life is a cycle and I would be dealing with my own "Little Miss No-No" 52 years later. But, I've digressed...

Anyway, Sonia mentioned that Mom is living in a sort of twilight state in which her mind is dreaming. So, she might blurt out words or full sentences that she's dreaming about. I noticed this the other day when she sat straight up in bed and blurted out "Gertrude is WHITE!" Sharyn and I did the mature thing and collapsed in laughter. Eh, ya gotta have some fun. Read more about this episode in my blog post Gertie-isms are still funny.

The whole rambling point of this section is that those dying might focus on a single word which is generally "No." So, any question you ask them might be answered in "No" but that's not necessarily what they mean. Your job is to interpret what they really mean.

My Mom might say "No" to the question "Do you want coffee" (her favorite) yet she'll purse her lips as though sipping from a cup. This means, to me and other caregivers who know her well "I'd like a sip."

So, be prepared to learn a new language - the language of the dying. It's actually a pretty interesting language if you're open to it.

death-and-dying-dealing-with-the-restless-patient

A goodbye to Gertie's Galavants

Update 3/30/12:

After Mom's death, I came to Key West for rejuvenation - the last months were fairly difficult for both Mom and me. In looking back, I'm grateful that I had that special time with her and even more grateful that I documented a lot of the moments in my blog Gertie's Galavants - Travels with a 95 year old. I decided to write my last post and have closed the blog but please go stop by and read a few of our escapades. We did have some fun.

My darling boyfriend had my blog turned into a hardback book - 400 pages! It's a much cherished read these days.

My gorgeous mom - she is really really missed

My gorgeous mom - she is really really missed

My gorgeous mom - she is really really missed

A few good books on death and dying

I've always been a fan of being armed with the best education on any subject in which I'm interested. The below are books that have helped me understand the process of death and dying and caregiving (I've been Mom's primary caregiver for 5 years now).

death and dying

death and dying

Death and Dying - Dealing with the restless patient

Lesson #2: Keep your patience!

The next thing you need to know about dealing with a dying restless patient is to keep your cool. It might seem like it's an endless loop you're living in - sort of like the movie Groundhog Day. For instance, here's a short idea of what 5 minutes in our lives is like right now:

Mom: Gets fidgity - sits straight up in bed and yells "Help!" (Note: I'm sitting next to her)

Me: Gets up and straightens the bed covers, readjust the hospital bed to a different position, talks reassuringly to Mom, asks her if she needs anything (a garbled "No" is the answer). Asks is she's comfortable (a garbled "No" is the answer). Readjust the bed again, push her gently into the pillows surrounding her. Mom quiets. I go back to my chair and continue to write this article.

30 seconds passes.

Mom: Gets fidgity - sits straight up in bed and yells "Help" - you see where I'm going here.

Things to remember:

1. It's not her fault. My Mom has always been the most amazing person to care for - she's always been more concerned about my wants and needs than her own. This last phase of dying is just her body reacting to changes. Her kidneys are slowing, her heart rate is abnormal, her pulse thready. These are physiological changes to which her body is reacting.

2. It's not your fault. You're not being remiss in smoothing the bed covers, you're not being remiss in adjusting the hospital bed. It's just what it is. Just get up and do it again.

My Mom has always had the most caring hands

My Mom has always had the most caring hands

My Mom has always had the most caring hands

hospice and death and dying

hospice and death and dying

Death and dying - dealing with the restless patient

Lesson #3: Get Hospice help!

I can't stress this point enough - Hospice help can make the difference between you losing your mind or not. We started in on Hospice 7 months ago and I've never been happier. Instead of second guessing every single decision I've made, I've had a telephone number to call at any moment of any day. I've frequently found that Hospice has confirmed that my first instinct was the right, and this has furthered my confidence in dealing with new situations.

During these last days, I've turned to Hospice to help me deal with learning how to change the hospital bed (Mom is no longer able to get up), change and clean her, and prescribe medication.

For more information about Hospice, check out this article on my website: Choosing Hospice - is it the right choice?.

Note: the picture is of my gorgeous Mom just last week after her very first Hospice administered bed bath. Amazing woman.

Here's some items that might help with those who are restless in bed

When I was growing up and couldn't sleep, Mom would rub alcohol on my back and then apply a generous amount of Johnson's baby powder. This almost immediately relaxed me. Although I don't want to chill Mom with an alcohol rub, there are a few things I've found that do help when she is particularly restless. Some are below.

death and dying and hospice

death and dying and hospice

Death and Dying - dealing with the restless patient

Lesson #4: Ensure your dying patient is in no pain

Luckily, my team of excellent caregivers and I have managed to keep Mom totally pain-free from bedsores or any kind of ailment that might afflict the bedridden, including pneumonia. The Hospice doctor who oversees her care prescribed two drugs to help us do just this: 1) Morphine and 2) Haloperidol.

Most people think that morphine is for pain but that's not exactly true. In the dying, morphine not only might relieve aches and pains but it also relaxes the patient and allows breathing to be less strained. Haloperidol is a medication that relieves anxiety and quiets Mom. In fact, as I type this, I just administered .25ml (a teeny weeny bit) of both drugs and she is resting much easier in bed. In fact, she's way more relaxed than I am!

Since I'm writing this Death and Dying - Dealing With the Restless Patient article in real time, I'll give you an idea of what just happened:

Me: Sitting here typing

Mom: Sits straight up in bed and yells "Lori!"

Me: Jumps up and runs to the bed. "What?" No response but a far away glaze. "Mom - what do you need?"

Mom: Comes out of the glaze and focuses on my face - "What, Sweetheart?"

Me: "Mom, what do you need?"

Mom: "Sheep!"

Me: "Sheep? You need sheep?"

Mom: "Yes"

Me: (thinking back to Lesson #1 here about learning the new language). Gets an idea. Aha! "Mom, do you see sheep?"

Mom: "Yes"

A bit of background. Mom and I have both been insomniacs throughout our lives. Mom taught me to count sheep jumping over a fence when I was very young to help my mind relax. To this day, I count sheep. Sadly though, these days, they're those stupid Sealy Posturpedic cartoon sheep. Damn. Anyway, back to my story:

Me: "Mom, do you see sheep jumping over a fence?"

Mom: "Yes"

Me: "Ok, let's count them together. One, two, three...she's out by four.

Please check out my article Helping the bedridden. I've learned so much in the last 10 days that I need to update this article but it will get you started.

And, here's an article about Pneumonia symptoms in the elderly which might help you too.

Some more items to help with a bedridden patient

A friend of mine's Uncle died in his favorite recliner, open book on his chest with his dog in his lap - if you ask me, he way won the game of life. But, for the majority of us, that's not how death will come. The below items have helped me deal with my bedridden Mom.

death-and-dying-dealing-with-the-restless-patient

Death and Dying - dealing with the restless patient

Lesson #5: Never leave them unattended

Now, it's impossible to never leave a dying restless patient unattended but try to at least monitor their movement. Someone who has been bedridden for months can suddenly "make a break for it", crawl over the hospital bed's bed rails and be on the floor before you utter 'Damn!"

John bought me a monitor that has a video to it so there is now a camera trained on Mom every minute. The monitor is one that I can carry around although I'm generally only in the kitchen for a few moments if there is no other caregiver in the house. Regardless, as I prepare her next cup of coffee, I always have one eye on the monitor so I can make a mad dash for her if I have to.

And, here's something really important: If your restless patient is in a hospital bed, I don't care how long you're out of the room, put the bed in its lowest setting to the floor before leaving him or her alone. This way, if they do make a break for it, they'll already be almost at floor level.

Always have a good baby monitor around

I prefer the video monitor which also vibrates or lights up if there is a noise in the room. A regular baby monitor doesn't work so well for me as there's a lot of ambient noise in the living room where Mom is (how can there not be with 6 dogs, a cat and a bird around?). The below are all highly rated monitors so any would be great to help in your care giving role. Click on any picture to see pricing and specifications.

I've had a few people comment that they can't believe I've kept writing through the challenges we're facing right now - I can't stop. Writing has been a passion for a few years now and gives me some sort of release from my daily life.

Please leave me comments. I always read them to Mom and, sometimes, even now, she grins.

Was this article helpful in any way?

anonymous on March 14, 2013:

Yes I agree with everything you said. I was my 92 year old grandmother's caregiver for 2 months while she was dying. She did do some funny "blurt-out". Unfortunately her death was not pleasant and our hospice experience was not great. Everyone thought I was losing my mind but as you know, watching someone die in front of your eyes is traumatic. I miss my grandmother very much...we were very close. I am just glad I was able to be there with her at the end of her life like she was there all of my life. Much love to you.

anonymous on February 16, 2013:

Yes, very helpful. Thank you for sharing your, and your mother's experience. You both sound like incredible women.

anonymous on November 06, 2012:

Thank you for your wonderful articles. They are comforting, as I am going through this process with my own mom. Over the past two days she has become delirious and agitated. The doctors are currently researching the cause. She has been out of her home in either a hospital or rehab facility since August. The cause may be that her body is shutting down and this is her time. She lives about 2 hours away from me so it is difficult to see her since I have three kids that I have to care for as well. I am planning to visit her this weekend. I pray that she survives so I have a chance to say goodbye. I have not done that yet despite some of the rough times she has gone through over the past several weeks. I also pray that her delirium is treatable so she can go home.

gottaloveit2 (author) on October 28, 2012:

@LaraineRoses: Praying for you and your step mom. Please contact me if you need some remote hugs.

 

Come check out my internet ramblings at the following sites:

Squidoo.com (articles of all flavors!)

My new blog Key West Travels

My Gerties Galavants blog

Good movies for senior citizens

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on October 28, 2012:

Another very helpful article. My step-mum is very much like your mum. She's as Irish as all-get-out and even though now she has had multiple strokes and cannot talk, she still can make herself understood. I believe that she is only days from death. I am heartbroken but reading your lenses helps. God Bless!

lesliesinclair on October 18, 2012:

This is a lovely tribute article. I didn't have a laptop when I went through this stage with my mother last year. Due to complications from CHF I was unable to bring her into my small home, even with help, as I had intended. I was blessed to be active in every realm of the last six months of my mother's life, and for years prior to that, to be able to share her active last years. She lived until 91yr of age, once multiple conditions hit at the same time, she decided to call Hospice.

Your lovely photos add a richness which every reader can access. God bless you!

karen-stephens on October 05, 2012:

Thank you.. I am giving this to a friend that will specialist in palative care using Greif companioning.. thanks

floppypoppygift1 on September 27, 2012:

This is a beautiful article. Best wishes to you & yours. Cheers~cb

eccles1 on September 17, 2012:

Everyone will eventually go through what your mom went through. I am a little worried my mom has always been a gambler,smoker and she eats what she wants now everything is taking itâs toll on her.Patience is the key.I only hope that when the time comes I will have someone with patience with me as you were with your mom .What else can we wish for ?

anonymous on September 15, 2012:

I'd like to thank you for your article as I am going through this with my own mum she is in the final stages of ovarian cancer only diagnosed in feb 2012 and last week she wanted to go into hospice. I am with her from 7in the morning until 7at night and feel guilty when I leave her at night, but I know she will be ok overnight and the smile she gives me in the morning is priceless. I found your articles helpful in understanding how I can help her as I just want to care for her to my best ability as she has done for me these past 43 years. God bless you.

Onemargaret LM on September 10, 2012:

I hope you are doing ok. Just stopped by to say, "Hello." My mom is 84 and still hanging in there. God is very good! God bless you and your family.

TheBeautifulLife on August 19, 2012:

I can... Thank you for really ... share my friend... Thank you...

SimonJay on August 14, 2012:

Indeed this is a very sad lens but its something that happens to us all its not pretty and its not easy to see it happening, i don't want to see my nan leave us.

LivingLikeCrazy on August 07, 2012:

Thank you. I've read this and your article about respect for the elderly and just wanted to say thank you so much for the natural way you share information on a subject we all wish we could avoid... until we can't anymore.

Death is just a new beginning we can't fully understand yet and nothing to be scared of. Though it does hurt to be on separate sides of the curtain from loved ones that have transitioned, it really helps to know that you're not the only one.

You do amazing work and I am so glad I've found it. Thanks again!

anonymous on August 05, 2012:

Thank you for this article.It really helped me with dealing with the death of my very close friend ..

Mayapearl on June 10, 2012:

Thank you for another great lens, another one to bookmark. Your mom looks like a sweet person and I am sure that she still loves watching the humming birds feed.

lclchors on June 07, 2012:

thank you. beautiful lens. My dad pasted just two years ago this month and now mom is 82. still lliving by herself but it will be me who goes to help her when it is needed so I will be back to read the rest of your lenses for sure

OliviaDaughter LM on May 31, 2012:

Really good info, my mother passed in 2010. I miss her. Good job with your mom.

anonymous on May 29, 2012:

The article is going to be very helpful in the month??? to come.

anonymous on May 29, 2012:

The article is going to be very helpful in the month??? to come.

gottaloveit2 (author) on May 23, 2012:

@anonymous: I'm sorry you didn't find the information you were looking for Carolyn. I only wrote what I was familiar with and, not being an RN, this article is a personal glimpse into how I dealt with my mom, the restless patient.

anonymous on May 22, 2012:

I'd hoped for more on dealin with the restless patient ~

K Bechand from NY on April 14, 2012:

I work in health care and Death and Dying is one of the hardest things to deal with ... and i do it frequently. Family members make all the difference, and looks like your Grandma had some great support!

anonymous on March 20, 2012:

What a compassionate lens. Well done.

Annasmentor on March 12, 2012:

Hospice workers are wonderful people. They were there for me to explain the 8 stages of dieing. I was able to accompany my father in his last week and understand at what point I had to say Goodbye.

Colleensworld on March 08, 2012:

Lori, I am one of the many out there that feel your pain. I lost my own mother in 2005 and have been sole caregiver to my father for the past year-and-a-half. It is so easy to think at times that "I'm the only one going through this" which is why it was very heart-warming to read your lens. Thankfully there is a lot of support out there in many forms and I too, have a true soul-mate in my life, after my marriage ended. Thanks for your inspiration!

Fay Favored from USA on March 05, 2012:

I just learned about your mom's passing and it brought tears to my eyes. For several weeks I had prayed for your family when I saw either of your pictures. You were a wonderful daughter to her, and I know this will be a tough time for you. Know that you are loved by God and so many others.

RCGraphicsDesign on February 29, 2012:

My wife and I workded as volunteers with Hospice for many years. What a rewarding experience. The wonderful experiences were beyond belief as we helped individuals approach the end of this life and move into the next. Thanks for a great lens.

Brandi from Maryland on February 29, 2012:

I just saw that your sweet Mom passed away recently. I just wanted to tell you that I'm so sorry to hear about her death. She was so lucky to have you during the last part of her life, to be cared for by her own loving daughter rather than strangers. You are an amazing person and I'm sorry to know that you are grieving. I know that this lens will help others who are going through the same thing.

TTMall on February 26, 2012:

Very informative lens. Well done!

goo2eyes lm on February 25, 2012:

thank you for sharing this article. my father was not restless when he was at the hospital. we prepared him to accept his destiny by praying the rosary, singing his favorite songs softly and taking care of him. thank God for canadian health insurance coverage. blessings for this heart-touching lens.

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on February 25, 2012:

Hi I went through this 3 time in lest than a year,My mom who was only 65 and 2 younger sisters who died from cancer in less than 3 months apart ..I wont to write a lens about this but,just have not been able to do it yet.This all happen about two years ago.God bless you ,I know your pain.

mrsgreener on February 24, 2012:

thank you for sharing I i wish you peace and love, I lost my father last year, can reiki help me find peace as I grieve?

mrsgreener on February 24, 2012:

thank you for sharing I i wish you peace and love, I lost my father last year, can reiki help me find peace as I grieve?

cherchar on February 19, 2012:

So sorry for your loss. I lost my mom in 2005. I understand the restlessness of the dying. It was two weeks of watching my mom struggle to pass. It's never easy. Thanks for sharing.

gottaloveit2 (author) on February 19, 2012:

@binnylovesgratitude: I think that's the nicest compliment I've ever gotten. Thank you so much.

binnylovesgratitude on February 19, 2012:

i wud have nominated u for lens of the day..but i m new on squidoo so i don't know how to do so....anyway!!!..for me this 1 is THE LENS OF THE MILLENNIUM :)

binnylovesgratitude on February 19, 2012:

ur mom is really beautiful...u r really lucky to have ur mom nd ur mom is lucky to have u..though her soul has left the body but u will always feel her peaceful,pure and perfect presnce in ur heart...it was a heart-touching lens...it reminded me of my grandmother who left the body 3 years ago..while reading this lens i felt so emotional for her..we lovingly used to call her "DADI" or "MATA JI"(in hindi(indian language) these words mean mother)... may god bless u :)

Chris-H LM on February 19, 2012:

What a blessing for your mother that she has such a loving and thoughtful daughter to care for her. I'm sure this lens will help a lot of people. :)

Kysaan LM on February 19, 2012:

Amazing lens!

Such love, compassion and patience... and what a cheeky smile your Mum had.

Thank you for sharing your personal journey. :)

Heather Bradford from Canada on February 18, 2012:

A beautifully written and heartfelt lens. I'm sure this will help others. Thank you for sharing this personal time.

Frugal Bride on February 18, 2012:

I am so so sorry to hear about your mom. I've been reading your lens for a few months now. From reading your lens I can tell that your mom was an amazing and funny person. Hugs!

TenPoundTenor on February 18, 2012:

This is a very good lens. I I spent the last 3 years caring for my Grandparents. They both died in the last 3 months. While it was a lot of work, I would gladly have continued. They were very special. Thank you for this lens.

Arnolda on February 18, 2012:

What a touching lens. Very inspiring and informative.

SavagedenutsxX on February 18, 2012:

I'm sorry to hear about this, but all my wishes you live happily, and I am sorry about your mother. It can be a tough time, I know.

Bob from Kansas City on February 17, 2012:

A very touching, inspiring and certainly informative lens!! Very well done, and thank you for sharing the journey with us. You Mother seems to have been very blessed by you, too!

Writing Nag from Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 17, 2012:

So sorry for your loss, I do understand that writing is therapeutic. Sending peace and love to you and your family.

bidzinger on February 17, 2012:

Your mom is a wonderful woman. I am sorry for your loss and pray for comfort and peace through this time. May God richly bless you!

Mainelyhappy on February 17, 2012:

The love you have for your mom shines through in your writing. I am so glad she had you to help her transition to the next phase. Thank you for sharing this time with us...

ernieplotter on February 17, 2012:

God bless your mommy!

Valerie Bloom from Pennsylvania, USA on February 17, 2012:

Thank you for sharing your experience. It was really touching and also very informative. I'm sorry for your loss.

AlleyCatLane on February 17, 2012:

Dear, dear Lori, I just saw the news that Gertie passed on yesterday. I am so sorry for your loss. Just know that you and your family are in our prayers and forever in our hearts.

athena2011 on February 17, 2012:

Beautiful lens. May your mother rest in peace. I would imagine that it might have been a little therapeutic for you to write as you went through this tough time of watching your mother fade away. Gave you a squidlike.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on February 16, 2012:

I'm sorry for your loss,and I know you miss your mom a lot. I went through this in 2005, and my mom refused to accept her prognosis of 6-8 weeks when she was diagnosed. She seemed to have the idea that if she acted as well as possible and kept out of her bed except at night it would make the doctor wrong. so she continued to sit in the family room and be sociable until the last week or so. Her finally letting herself stay in bed took her quickly downhill. I also wrote a lens about my experience caring for her. It's a life-changing experience.

reasonablerobby on February 16, 2012:

What a beautiful lens on a very sensitive subject. I am so glad you wrote this. Last year I spent 5 months with my Father after he suffered a massive stroke and the impact of supporting him during his last days has been quite a surprise. Sure the death of a loved one is not good, but I was totally unprepared for the seemingly lasting emotional effect of witnessing someone die over an extended period. Sometimes his distress and frustration was very hard to bear. I believe in modern western societies we are so protected from the dying process that when it happens it really is a shock to the system. I knew Dad wasn't well and unlikely to recover and yet had no experience or knowledge to guide me as to 'what stage' we were at. The medical team, who were wonderful, regrettably seemed so constrained by political and bureaucratic rectitude that they were unable to offer any candid prognosis. They just responded with bland statements such as we 'can't tell all patients are different' This I found staggering because surely their professional experience would indicate a general grasp of what was happening.

In the end Dad did peacefully (I think) I feel bad about not being there at the exact moment. I saw him some 30 minutes before and had to leave the room. I don't know if I let him down by doing this? I did say goodbye and told him I loved him and I wish I had had the nerve to be there. One thing I wonder about is how 'in touch' dying people are with what is happening? I say this because of tear that ran down my Dads cheek as we said goodbye. This was probably just a physical rather than an emotional thing I guess?

Anyhow, a massive thumbs up for this lens not just for your story but also for providing a platform for comments.

anonymous on February 16, 2012:

7:11...another gift of sweetness, only love remains...

AJ from North Carolina on February 16, 2012:

Lori, thank you for taking the time to update us. I'm so sorry for your loss, but I know if there is a "quality" way to pass away, you and Gertie found it, at home with so many loved ones with her. I know John will take good care of you now, and your mom is fine now. You need some rest and reflection. I'm amazed at how calm and controlled you've been in your posts these past couple of weeks, but I worry it will all suddenly hit you later. Glad you said you would be soon going to the Keys -- that will be good for you. Again, I'm so sorry, and I will miss the Gertie stories. She has brightened my life many a time without knowing, but I am helpless to give that back to you, or to her.

Angela F from Seattle, WA on February 16, 2012:

I hope that you will continue to read comments to your Mom. I'm sure she'll be grinning from up above. Thank you for sharing her with all of us and for sharing such great (and honest) info on home care. p.s. the security captcha word for this is "wootlove" - how appropriate ;)

blessedmomto7 on February 16, 2012:

What a wonderful article. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom, loved the photos!

LadyCharlie on February 16, 2012:

Blessed...My mother has been very ill and she is in God hands as to how long she'll be with us. I appreciate you sharing your time with your Mother. Thank you for the insight.

Susan300 on February 16, 2012:

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your experiences with your mother so freely here. I've read so much of your online work, and viewed the delightful smiling photos of your mom, that I feel like I practically know you both for "real".

You've created a treasure trove of resources for all of us with aging parents. Thank you.

Coreena Jolene on February 16, 2012:

I am sorry to read of your mother's passing. Your writing about her and your life with her in her last days is such an inspiration. I hope you keep your lenses up for others to learn from. I hope that someday you can read them again and feel happy that you captured all these moments with your mother. So many people don't get to do that.

Helene-Malmsio on February 16, 2012:

This is a truly magnificent lens, filled with love, and invaluable tips for people who are beginning to wonder how they will be able to deal with this situation when the time comes... ack! time can be so cruel to our parents. I read your update on your mother's passing... my condolences to you and the family, and thank you again for such an informative lens.

patriciapeppy on February 16, 2012:

so sorry to hear the sad news about your mom

olecrAN0N LM on February 16, 2012:

You seem so calm through all this. Thanks for letting me read about your experiences. Celebrate your mother's long life, her personality, and her soul!

Linda Hahn from California on February 16, 2012:

I am so sorry for your loss.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on February 16, 2012:

My prayers and thoughts are with you.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on February 16, 2012:

I'm sure it will feel like there is a big hole in your life for some time to come. Gertie's fan club will miss her, but maybe I can talk you into making a family memory book to self-publish with about her life.

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on February 16, 2012:

You and Gertie have been in our prayers these past few weeks especially. We will continue to lift you up in prayer during this time of grief and heartache. May you find peace and comfort in this difficult time!

ChrissLJ on February 16, 2012:

Lori, my heart goes out to you. I have greatly enjoyed the Gertie stories for the last several months.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on February 16, 2012:

Take care, Lori. Thanks for updating us.

anonymous on February 16, 2012:

Both touching in its intimacy and priceless in its practical know-how. Thanks for sharing.

harubel on February 16, 2012:

i love my mom and like your lens very much

dsbrennan on February 16, 2012:

Beautifully written and very touching. I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm glad you were able to share her personality here.

rainbowruffles on February 16, 2012:

I think this is one of the best articles that I have read on Squidoo. I was a CNA for about 5 or six months and quit because it was hard for me to cope with that part of life. I just wanted to let you know that your article touched my heart deeply. You did a wonderful job.

SmartyGirlRenee on February 16, 2012:

I lost my dad 3 years ago. The memories of his end of life are still fresh. Thank you for this lens.

Titia Geertman from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 16, 2012:

My mom is 100 years old as of August 24, 2011. She's bed bound and though we didn't expect her to reach her birthday last year, she's still here today. She lives in a special house where they actually live self-reliant, but they can get all the help they need the moment they need it. I still have to do the groceries and such, but they take care of my mom. She has been living there since 1996. I wrote a lens about her too.

Don't forget to take care of your self too. Thanks for sharing

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on February 16, 2012:

Your mom will live forever in the articles you write. Her precious smile will be shared by many. Please wish her my very best on this next journey which she takes.

prosepine lm on February 15, 2012:

Your Mum is so Beautiful! Her smile reaches out, My Mother stayed at her home for her passing, unfortunately she was only 52. There were big challenges, for the last month she was bed bound, and unable to walk. But I would do it all again. She could gaze at the birds in the trees she had planted, and no hospital beeping. You have written such a beautiful article. Its very generous of you. Best Wishes, Prosepine

pdsherpa on February 15, 2012:

What a beautiful mother you have, and what a profound gift you are giving her. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with the world -- I am sure it will help many who take this journey with their own loved ones. Blessings and peace to you and your Mom.

megabu717 on February 15, 2012:

On every photo your Mom is smiling, Amazing!

anonymous on February 15, 2012:

Stopping by for a quiet moment with you ladies...

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on February 15, 2012:

Bless you.

I have been there. One thing I just knew I was prepared for was actually losing her. I thought I was, but i wasn't. Looking back, perhaps this is fairly normal and common...

sherridan on February 15, 2012:

Fantastic lens and so full of smiles - what a way to go! This should really help others overcome fear and distress in such a difficult time. My thoughts are with you.

craftblogger lm on February 15, 2012:

What an amazing woman your Mom is :)

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on February 15, 2012:

Take care, Lori. You're the best.

anonymous on February 15, 2012:

very touching. bless you and your family

anonymous on February 14, 2012:

How does one leave so much love on this earth...with a beautiful smile....

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on February 14, 2012:

Great lens, very personal and helpful to those who are caring for dying patients. Heartfelt blessings.

Nicole Pellegrini from New Jersey on February 14, 2012:

This is an amazing lens on a very important subject. Your family is in my prayers but you are already an angel for sharing your journey with others.

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on February 14, 2012:

Just checking in again on you and Gertie. :(

victoriahaneveer on February 14, 2012:

Beautiful, poignant lens. Thanks for sharing.

emmaklarkins on February 14, 2012:

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I'm sure many people will benefit from your thoughtfulness and wonderful attitude!

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on February 14, 2012:

It's obvious you learned a lot about caring for loved ones from your mother. It's obviously a lot of hard work and commitment, but once she leaves you here, I know that you will be so happy that you had this time with her. Thank you for writing about your experience. I know it may soon help me, and likely, it will help many others as well.

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on February 14, 2012:

It's obvious you learned a lot about caring for loved ones from your mother. It's obviously a lot of hard work and commitment, but once she leaves you here, I know that you will be so happy that you had this time with her. Thank you for writing about your experience. I know it may soon help me, and likely, it will help many others as well.

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on February 14, 2012:

It's obvious you learned a lot about caring for loved ones from your mother. It's obviously a lot of hard work and committment, but once she leaves you here, I know that you will be so happy that you had this time with her. Thank you for writing about your experience. I know it may soon help me, and likely, it will help many others as well.

Roberto Eldrum on February 14, 2012:

This was the most touching article I have ever read. Nice to meet you,,,

Nimsrules LM on February 14, 2012:

95 is a stupendous number, you need to have that zeal and passion to go on.

intermarks on February 14, 2012:

It will be hard for me to go through such an experience that you have gone through. I cannot imagine how am I going to go through this when my mom is at that stage, she is now at 77.

Coopstar on February 13, 2012:

Very touching lens. This is a topic I have never seen covered. You did an amazing job, and the love you have for you mother is heart warming.

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