I know we all ask ourselves the question when family members or friends are very sick, and or dying, “should we visit them”. Each case is different,but the bottom line is that we should ‘always’ respect our loved ones wishes! I cannot emphasize this enough.
I saw my father pass many years ago. When he was extremely sick and near death, he did not want to share his last days with anyone, but his immediate family. He conveyed his wishes several times to me and others in my family. At that time, I was too young to understand how important his wishes were to him. We all thought that we should not hurt anyone else’s feelings. Basically, we thought we knew what was best for dad, we were mistaken.
Sometimes out of obligation, we feel we must visit a relative or friend before the person passes to make ourselves feel better. We all want to feel like we are good people . . . and we are! But our first thought should be is whether our visit in the best interest of the sick person and not at their expense.
Recently, a relative went to visit mom. I visited a few hours after he had left. His visit left mom anxious. She told me that he said, “You look just like my mom when she was dying.” Please keep your thoughts to yourself. You may not realize, but comments like that can be hurtful. Mom needs to feel good about herself. I tell mom that she looks beautiful.
Mom said, “I must be dying, Julienne, for him to come and visit me.”
“Mom, we are all dying from the moment we are born.”
“I wish people would not ask me how I am feeling. If I felt good I would not be here.”
I am mom’s spokesperson whether I want to be or not. Mom does not want to answer most questions any more not to anyone especially how she feels. She does not want to talk with you about hospice, her roommates, how she likes this place, dying or about relatives that have already passed.
Here are a few perfect questions that will not irritate her. . . Would you like to go for a walk? Would you like to go sit outside in the garden by the pond on the 1st floor? Or can I do or get you anything before I leave? These are questions that are non-threatening to her. These questions can help to improve the current status of her day and isn’t that the purpose of your visit?
My mom has everyone there calling her Gilda with a hard ‘G’ which is actually the proper pronunciation. Do not call her Jilda. It is very irritating to her. Although she used to answer to Jilda, she no longer does.
People ask me if there is anything that they can bring her. My answer is simple: Bring her your love and your support. The human touch is so vital to someone’s well-being. Give her a hug when you get there and a hug when you leave. She will not break. Everyone needs hugs. Mom will appreciate the hug long after you leave.
If someone goes to visit her I want to believe their reason is because they miss her or want to spend quality time with her. People have told me that they want my mom to know that she is loved. Well then, if you visit her . . . tell her you love her. Some of the most important things you can say are: I am thinking about you, I am praying for you, and I wanted you to know that I love you. If that is not your purpose, do mom a favor and just send her positive, peaceful thoughts and your prayers. She would be much better off.
I just had a friend die. When I heard that she passed, I broke down and wept. I was so disappointed that I did not get a chance to see her before she passed. I felt guilty because my life was too busy; I could not fit in time in my schedule to see her. When I was at her funeral this week, I heard she died with her loved ones surrounding her. I knew that she knew how I felt about her. I decided to give myself a break. She was not judging me for not being with her.
I am saying this because as many people know mom has suffered from depression all her life. During the last few years mom has experienced paranoia in her earlier stage of dementia. She has become distant with some family members that she was close to. Unfortunately, this is not unusual for people with dementia. I wish I could change things for her. I wish she did not have to go through this stage. I wish she wanted to see everyone that wants to see her.
If you chose to see mom, please put her needs and wants before yours. Make her glad you visited. Be a happy memory.
. . . Written by a daughter who only wants the best for her mother.