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Visiting young friend in hospice who is going downhill v fast

(15 Posts)
somethinganything Tue 03-Nov-09 09:45:05

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post. Apologies if not and please feel free to point me in the right direction.

A childhood friend was recently (i.e. within the past few weeks) diagnosed with cancer, he has deteriorated very fast and is now in a hospice on heavy doses of morphine and not expected to survive the month.

I'm going to visit this week and don't really know what I can do for him and his family that would be useful/supportive or what the right thing to say it. He's only 29 - I feel so devastated for them all.

Anyone have any suggestions as to what I can take/say/give/do to help?

Many thanks

DadInsteadofMum Tue 03-Nov-09 10:06:02

Let him lead the conversation you don't have to say or do anything being there will mean a lot.

Be prepared for a short conversation that he may dose off in the middle of a conversation as he will be very tired and high on morphine.

Don't know if you have seen him since his diagnosis but prepare yourself for a big change in his appearance, weight loss skin colour etc, also he will be hooked up to drips and machines.

somethinganything Tue 03-Nov-09 10:10:20

Thanks, DIOM - that's really helpful. I haven't seen him since the diagnosis. It's all happened so quickly. He only started feeling ill a couple of months ago and it took about a month of hospital trips to work out what was going on. He was moved into the hospice just before I went on holiday last week and things have gone from bad to worse since then

MissM Tue 03-Nov-09 20:00:39

Just go and be there but don't try to 'be' anyone or 'do' anything. Just be sensitive to what's needed. Your presence may be more comfort than you know - as Dad said, be prepared for him to drift off, to just sit there for an hour saying nothing while he sleeps, to just stoke his hand, or to chat and laugh if he's able to. Don't expect anything and equally don't be offended if he doesn't want to see you or his family are closing ranks around him.

Restrainedrabbit Tue 03-Nov-09 20:03:16

My DH died from cancer a few years ago, the advice I would give is to just be there maybe chat about what is going on in your life at the moment. Be aware that he may not be coherent or say random things. As for what to take - your presence will be enough.

oneofapair Wed 04-Nov-09 14:23:48

There has been lots of good advice given but I would like to add just a few thoughts based on the recent death of my twin. During her last couple of weeks her mood changed several times but I think the most common emotion was that she felt scared. Scared of dying, scared of leaving me "on your own" as she put it and scared of being in pain. You might like to think how you would cope with this. Holding the loved ones hand is so important as well.sad

somethinganything Wed 04-Nov-09 17:55:56

Thanks for all your thoughts and advice - the visit is tomorrow and I'm really worried about getting upset in front of him, which I imagine is the last thing he needs. I checked with his Mum this morning that it's still ok to visit and she said he was really looking forward to it so I just hope I'll be able to be some comfort. Is there anything I should take?

rabbit and oneofapair so sorry to hear about your losses thanks for your contributions. I'm glad you mentioned holding hands, I was wondering if it would be appropriate or if it might seem awkward or excessively sombre so it's very useful to hear your thoughts

Sagacious Wed 04-Nov-09 18:08:29

MIL is in the same position

I'm doing pretty much the same thing day by day (it won't be for much longer in her case)

A hug/holding hands says so much

When shes coherent she says so herself.

You really don't have to do much, just being there really thats about it.

Oh and feel free to swear say how unfair it is if you feel it appropriate.

Good luck for tommorrow x

somethinganything Wed 04-Nov-09 18:32:15

sagacious thanks so much and I hope your MIL's last days are as peaceful and positive as they can be

Restrainedrabbit Wed 04-Nov-09 19:33:28

Just do whatever is natural for your relationship with your friend, if you are not touchy feely then maybe hold of a little. Just see how it goes when you get there?

As for what to bring maybe check with his Mum for palatable food/drinks or music?

MissM Wed 04-Nov-09 19:55:33

Don't worry about getting upset. When my brother was dying we cried all the time. I'm sorry this is happening to your friend and to you. Cancer is a bloody evil illness.

cathcat Fri 06-Nov-09 00:01:19

How did you get on today Somethinganything?

somethinganything Fri 06-Nov-09 09:50:05

Thanks all - it was heartbreaking actually. I'm so glad I went because I think I only just got there in time, I very much doubt he'll be able to see many more visitors because he was just drifting in and out of sleep in the short time I was with him. He hasn't eaten for 3 weeks because he can't keep anything down so he's just surviving on a drip. Even though I was expecting it, it was a real shock to see how such a strong, fit young man who I saw grow up from the age of 6 had become so weak. He's just completely exhausted.

But he was completely lucid when we were talking. He knows exactly how bad the situation is and I was really taken aback by how open he was. He has planned his funeral and said he was really glad to see me one last time which came as such a shock - I know that sounds silly but I suppose I thought we might at least talk as though there was some hope of us meeting again. But he was categorically saying goodbye. I spent a really long time with his family, which was lovely and really helpful on both sides I think. His Mum is amazing - I have no idea how you deal with watching that happen to your own child and I have such admiration for her strength.

Thanks again everyone for your thoughts/advice. In the end holding his hand felt like the most natural thing in the world. I feel so sad about it all though, I've lost very close relatives before but somehow in that situation the adrenalin and the need to block it out just drives you to get on with life but for now I'm finding it really hard to think about or concentrate on anything other than my friend. Anyhow, must try and get on with my large backlog of work.

cathcat Fri 06-Nov-09 23:03:40

Your post is very moving and heartbreaking.
I am so glad you were able to see him, speak to him and that he could speak freely to you. It will mean a lot to him and his family that you went today, and I hope you get the chance again, if that is what you and he want.
Of course it is hard to concentrate on other things just now. Don't underestimate what a hard thing you are dealing with. Wishing you strength for what lies ahead.

somethinganything Sat 07-Nov-09 12:35:40

Thank you, cathcat - much appreciated.

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