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Friend's mother is dying - how to help?

(8 Posts)
mears Sun 07-Mar-04 23:55:24

My friend's mother was admitted with a brain haemorrhage on Monday night. Friend lives in England so I visited her mum who lives in same town as me. Her mum was lucid when admitted. When I visited she had slipped into a coma and was expected to die. I spoke to my friend and advised her to come as her mother had deteriorated. That was 6 days ago.
Her mum is still in a coma. The doctors have said she will not recover. She is being given fluids to ensure she does not dehydrate to keep her comfortable. Her chest was moist so they gave her steroids to help her breathing. I really feel that if she was my mum I would want all treatment stopped as there is no hope for recovery. However, don't know if hospital will agree with that. My friend is now in the situation that she is willing her mum to die to end this existance. Does anybody have experience of this situation? Is it cruel to ask for fluids to be stopped? My heart goes out to my friend. I realy feel that we do not know how to let people die any more.

jampot Mon 08-Mar-04 01:25:11

Hi Mears - I'm really sorry for your friend but she's lucky to have a friend like you.
My mum had a brain haemorrhage on 13th Sept 97 (Sat)(her second one - first in September 91). The hospital admitted her in a coma already. We (my sisters and I) were told we could either let her die in the hospital or she could be transferred to another (more specialist) hospital and she would probably die in the ambulance. Mum always made us promise to not let her go to the first hospital as that is where our dad died in 91 after a hospital cock up. So we took our chances and had mum transferred to QE (Bham). There they fitted her with a drain and she remained in ITU until the Tues when she had another bleed. Strangely after this bleed she woke up! Obviously on a ventilator she could not speak and she was in a bad way. We were able to visit and "speak" with mum and she knew we were there. They moved her out of ITU on the Sunday (only for 24 hours) and she died in the early hours of 24 Sept (my son's first birthday).

My dad on the other hand was in ITU on ventilator and drugs to keep his blood pressure up (we were told he would die without them) until gangrene set into his hands/arms and feet/legs. Then for some reason the drugs were stopped and he remained on ventilator for another 2.5 weeks whilst the gangrene spread as far as his knees and then he died! However, he died in the ten minute window when no-one was with him - often wondered whether hospital just switched machine off as mum wouldn't give her permission.

You never know what will happen - just be there for your friend and support whatever decision she decides to make. If we had listened to the first hospital in my mum's case we wouldn't have got to say our goodbyes.

twiglett Mon 08-Mar-04 07:39:48

message withdrawn

stace Mon 08-Mar-04 11:40:15

Hi mears, just wanted to add that you are doing a fantastic job for your friend. I lost my dad 3 weeks after the birth of my son to a brain tumour and my mum 14 months after that. Although my friends were incredibly supportive i have to say for me it was very hard to hear other people pass opinions on speeding up the demise of the person, no matter what you think yourself.
In both cases my siblings and i were exceptionally fortunate to all agree that imminent death would be beneficial to all parties and there was no quality of life left for anyone, but likewise i have sat close next to the dying and next of kin watching and trying to help them come to terms with letting go of their beloved.

I strongly believe that dying people rarely die until they sense that those left behind are ready to let them go.

Once again both my parents died in the 5-10 minute space that they were left alone. I prefer to think that the dying wish to do so in privacy, however i do not disagree (nor question the ethics) of Euthanasia in the final stages of the terminally ill. I do seriously think that it happens and i think that if this is what your friend wishes then there are ways of making it quite clear to the medical staff without saying the words.

I used to constantly tell the doctors and nurses that my mother did not wish to be resucitated, that she was a great believer in euthanasia and that she belonged to the Euthanasia society so who knows why she died during the only 5 minutes she was left without a family member with her, especially given the fact that we had begged the doctors and nurses to put her out of her pain the night before.

I guess what i am saying is you are being a great friend and thats what counts most of all!!! and i wish you strength to continue it is also a difficult journey just supporting others who are going through the grief (((())))

mears Tue 09-Mar-04 17:07:07

My friend's mum died this afternoon just before 2pm. I arrived 30mins earlier to keep her company for a while (her brother ahd DH had left for a short while) and her mum just peacefully slipped away, never coming out of the coma. Just glad it has ended for them both.

jampot Tue 09-Mar-04 17:10:33

So sorry to hear your sad news Mears, but as you say, glad to know neither of them are suffering now. I'm sure you will be a great support to your friend.

lou33 Tue 09-Mar-04 17:19:39

Sincerest condolences to your friend Mears.

stace Wed 10-Mar-04 08:52:19

So sorry for all of you for your loss,

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