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Question about my dad's final moments **Trigger warning**

(36 Posts)
nowayjose1 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:16:51

My Dad died the day before yesterday. He had just turned 59. He died from
pneumonia.

I can't stop thinking about his last breaths. I've been trying to research online to make more sense of it but can't.

Basically as he was passing he made a gasp for breath twice. He didn't seem distressed but I'm wondering was this just an automatic body response for more breath or was he actively trying to breathe. I know it's probably the first but i just can't stop thinking and seeing it in my head I'm so upset thinking that he might have been scared or trying to hold on.

I also feel guilt. He couldn't really talk but he managed to tell me he knew he was dying and that he wanted to come home and die surrounded by his family. We spoke to the nurse and the palliative team had planned to discuss it with us but we never got the time. The nurse did say that she apologised to him that she couldn't grant his wish which I thought was really sweet.

Just wanted to get it off my chest I guess. Thanks for listening.

BillyDaveysDaughter Sat 14-Jan-17 18:24:57

So sorry for your loss.

Being worried that they were frightened in those last moments is a normal part of the grieving process...my DSdad died of lung cancer 10 years ago, and the horror that he was scared when he took those last breaths absolutely haunted me (and my DM) for a year.

I am led to believe that those final gasps are very very common. I know it's hard but try not to worry...you are grieving, it will hurt for a long time but the raw pain does get better eventually. It's a difficult time but just go with your emotions and remember your dad as he was when he was well.

Best wishes from me. flowers

Deinonychus Sat 14-Jan-17 18:28:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Strubo Sat 14-Jan-17 18:29:05

The final gasp is completely normal, I know it must have been frightening for you but it won't have been for him, it's a physiological response and wasn't 'him' if that makes sense. I'm sorry for your loss.

nowayjose1 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:29:14

Thank you both that has really helped me.

Yes he was surrounded by lots of his family so that gives me some comfort xx

Shallishanti Sat 14-Jan-17 18:29:28

I'm sorry to read about your dad. It's a lot to process and you are bound to be going over it in your head.
What you heard was agonal breathing and it is typical when people die. You're right, it's just an automatic response.
Don't feel guilty. He may have wanted to die at home, but you were with him and that's more important than where he was. Moving him may not have been possible or practical. Better that you were with him, not trying to move him.

ObiWankyKnobby Sat 14-Jan-17 18:30:32

I'm so sorry for your loss noway. There was a doctor on radio 5live about 3 or 4 months ago talking about the process of death. I can't remember exactly what she said, but I know I found it very comforting. I am sure if you google you can find something similar, or perhaps Cruse (bereavement charity) might be able to explain things to put your mind at rest.

flowers for you at this sad time.

LandLock Sat 14-Jan-17 18:34:23

I am so sorry to hear about your fathers death. 59 is so young. sad

I hope someone can give you a proper medical explanation but the last gasps sound very normal. It's just what the body does.

I'm sorry you fee guilty about not getting him home to die but I think feeling guilty is extremely normal even when you don't really have anything to feel guilty about. It's possible that even if you had managed to move him that he would have found the move stressful.

It's so normal to think about the final hours but it might help to try and think about all the other times as well. It's probably easy said than done at the moment. I hope you have lots of real life support. thanks

MidnightVelvetthe7th Sat 14-Jan-17 18:36:46

I'm so sorry for your loss flowers

No he wasn't scared, as previous posters have said its an automatic reaction of the body it doesn't denote any mental or emotional state.

If it helps then when I was a student I worked in many homes for elderly residents & none of them were scared when they passed. If you believe in an afterlife then it seems familiar people come to receive you and I've heard people greet their relatives and 'see' something in the room and smile or reach towards them just before their death. Nobody has ever tried to hold on or to not die in my experience. If you don't believe in an afterlife then it still won't be scary as your brain will flood your body with chemicals to make the passing easier. Your father will not have been afraid at all. He will have been glad that you were there.

CMamaof4 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:38:42

My Dad died 6 years ago of cancer and he also gasped like you said your Dad did, It was awful, But I do just think it was his body doing it.
I had flashbacks alot and it really tramatised me watching him go, I don't have flashbacks anymore and try to take comfort in the fact that we were all there when he passed away. We all repeatedly told him we loved him over and over again as he passed.
Try and take comfort in the fact that you were there for him right up until the very end, At least he didnt pass alone x
Watching someone you love pass is very tramatic and you will take a while to make sense of it all. Your emotions are all very normal, Take care xx

Oly5 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:41:41

My
Mum died of cancer and also breathed as you described. It's triamatic to watch but o think it's normal. Take comfort in the fact he was surrounded by your love. I'm
Sorry for your loss

Penfold007 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:44:58

nowayjose1 I am so very sorry for your loss. I apologise if what I am about to say is a trigger for you or anyone else reading this thread.
I had a valued friend who had lung cancer, his biggest fear was dying alone so naively I promised to be with him at the end. The day arrived, like your DF he also wanted to die at home but ended up in A&E to be fair it didn't matter a jot. The staff were amazing and so respectful. They were very honest and told me the 'process' would be difficult but they would control his pain and distress. They made sure I was okay to stay and made sure I knew it was okay to leave, in fact his daughter had to step out of the room as his breathing became laboured and noisy. I stayed with him and held his hand. The staff left us both alone (after asking) we said goodbye and he lost conscious, his next few breaths were very laboured and distressing but he seemed very much at peace. I sat quietly with him and then the doctor came in and very discreetly recorded his death.
I'm glad I kept my promise and I'm convinced he was at peace at the end. So was your dear dad, please don't feel guilty.

UncontrolledImmigrant Sat 14-Jan-17 18:48:39

This is normal as in death can look like this.

I was with my grandfather when he died and he did this too. It was awful and I was afraid that this would be my lasting memory of him.

It wasn't and isn't.

May your fathers memory be eternal flowers

nowayjose1 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:52:43

So sad to hear about your loved ones. But it has honestly given me so much comfort hearing all your experiences.

I need to concentrate on the memories of him when he was living. Full of life and mischief! Thank you xx

ReluctantlyRedundant101 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:59:38

Those last moments will play over in your mind for a while but thats nothing to be frightened of I think its the minds way of committing every detail to memory but it soon fades and it won't always be the first thing you think when you think of your dear Dad.
So sorry for your loss flowers

smileyhappypeople Sat 14-Jan-17 19:04:32

My grandad did this and it was awful..... he wasn't 'supposed' to die. He had gone in for an operation and then went from bad to worse. They shocked us when they said he was going on to the 'end of life pathway' and my grandma fought to give him more care. It meant that when he did this it has haunted us ever since thinking that he was fighting to live. It's horrible

nowayjose1 Sat 14-Jan-17 19:05:08

Yes I think that's true about committing every detail to memory. I keep replaying the same bit over in my head. I feel like its a bit of a blank in my head so keep trying remember it properly. Thank you x

SpookyPotato Sat 14-Jan-17 19:11:06

So sorry about your loss OP flowers He was young sad It is normal and it is an automatic response from the body. I know it's shocking to see though. When my dad died, he had fallen to the ground and my brother lifted him and he let out this long groan, but it wasn't him as he had gone. Ten mins later they moved him to a bed and he let another one out. I think it's just the lungs trying to take in breath/let out any air that's left.

CMamaof4 Sat 14-Jan-17 19:13:32

Its completely normal to do that nowayjose1 just your brain trying to make sense of it all. So sorry for your loss I know it is so hard and hurts so much, But that's all because you have so much love for him and wasn't he so lucky to have that and to have you there with him, Stay strong xx

SpookyPotato Sat 14-Jan-17 19:14:48

I agree about trying to remember every detail.. I drove myself nuts trying to remember his face after he died but couldn't get the image right, not sure why I wanted to remember as it was awful. But it fades flowers

DramaAlpaca Sat 14-Jan-17 19:15:33

I'm so sorry for the loss of your dad, OP flowers

ThisisMrsNicolaHicklin Sat 14-Jan-17 19:18:07

So sorry for your loss. I'm a nurse and I just want to second what everyone else has said, it's a completely normal part of the process of dying. The lovely charge nurse on my first ward told me it was just the body coming slowly to a stop. Hang on to those memories and don't be sad about this, it's actually a sign of a peaceful passing.

VintagePerfumista Sat 14-Jan-17 19:22:08

So sorry for your loss.

There was a "lovely" thread a few years ago, where several health care professionals talked about death, the moments before and after, and how they look after our loved ones.

It was very comforting. I think it was placed in Classics. Maybe when you are feeling less raw, you might like to read it. flowers

TeaCakeLiterature Sat 14-Jan-17 19:27:26

I'm so sorry for your loss, it's never an easy journey saying goodbye.

My uncle did exactly the same when we were there with him - we were warned that that would happen and that it's totally normal and physiological, as other people have said.

nowayjose1 Sat 14-Jan-17 20:15:11

Thanks everyone, will definitely go and take a look at the thread over it classics.

So sorry for all your losses. The nurses were all so lovely, I will always remember that.

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