Do Loved Ones Know When You Visit Their Grave
Do Loved Ones Know When You Visit Their Grave – Over a year ago I wrote an article entitled We Don’t Know Death: 7 Assumptions About Dying. Knowing our expectations is the first step, but what do we do with that knowledge? Since writing this article, I’ve looked at the “what” factor of assumptions to develop propositions for action.
In this article, I will take every assumption from the original article and delve deeper into the concept to include implications and possible actions. In my last article, I wrote about a family’s assumption that they want to be with their loved one when they die.
Do Loved Ones Know When You Visit Their Grave
In my hospital setting, I may sometimes recommend leaving the patient alone. Hospitals have programs in place to reassure patients and families that they are never alone. Most of them are actually called “Nobody Dies Alone” or NODA. An unintended consequence of marketing these apps is that the apps perpetuate the myth that nobody wants to die alone.
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For a family member with the least direct experience of being with a dying loved one, the idea that dying patients should never be alone can create intense anxiety. Family members are awake for days without eating or sleeping. Hospital workers can tell family they can rest, but this can be a confusing, conflicting message. The hospice has a program that says no one should die alone, but this hospice nurse is telling me to rest?
Hospice professionals know that death care is a personal preference. We have these patients who die in the middle of the night. We hear stories of a patient’s loved one who was absent for five minutes and died. We may have witnessed a quick death ourselves. I believe this is done at the patient’s request.
When my mother was in the hospital and told me she was dying, I stayed with my mother all night and slept in the uncomfortable room. I finally got home to take a shower and 10 minutes before I got back to work my mom passed out. i was guilty Years later, when I was working in a hospital, I realized what had happened when I saw many deaths where the patient died after leaving the family.
It seems to be more common when the patient is a parent. I think it’s a protective factor.
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A sick loved one can leave the room only about a minute before arrival. It is very unfortunate when a family member is not prepared for this possibility.
Suggested intervention: Prior to active dying, educate the family that the patient may die intentionally in the family’s absence.
If you have this conversation before you die, you stand a better chance that the family member will accept what you have to say. I think this conversation also helps with grief. When I prepare a family member for the possibility of not being present at the time of death and the possibility that death does not occur, they usually say they understand why. He said: “As I sat there, he couldn’t bear to leave. When I left his side, he knew I would be fine and said he could go. “
Before beginning these preliminary talks, I found that when the patient died, bereaved relatives always felt a strong sense of guilt about their “absence”. They perceived his physical absence as a metaphor for the patient’s lack of emotion. They believe they have failed the patient. It’s rare, but it’s hard to admit. Relatives can feel guilty for years after a death.
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Recommended Intervention: Encourage the family to discuss the issue openly with the patient (if appropriate to the patient’s and family’s communication style and cultural beliefs).
This conversation may allow the patient to let the family member know that they are uncomfortable with the family member’s involvement in their death. This can be a very direct conversation between the family and the patient, so read if they are open to a discussion. The patient may fear that family members will be offended by his desires and may not express his desires. They also don’t know what they want because imagining the moment of death can be so frightening.
Finally, the most important person to notify is each family member who is expected to be with the patient. Unfortunately, even if a family member knows that the patient would rather not be there, that doesn’t mean they respect the patient’s wishes. I saw a conflict between a private mother and her loving grandson that spread even further because the mother said she didn’t need her grandson there and wanted the grandson to be vigilant. We had an open conversation, but it didn’t help. His scream overcame him.
As hotel professionals we can advise and support, but ultimately the family dynamic is a lifelong one. (This will be discussed in a future article).
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Once, while on vacation, I was asked to stand guard at a patient’s home to comfort the family. But when I got there, the patient’s wife and daughter were too scared to leave, so they stayed. They asked why it had taken so long for their loved ones to die. I explained to the family that sometimes the patient may or may not die. He seemed to understand the conversation and finally they left. The next day I went for a walk again, but as it turned out, he died on the way and the hospital office had no way of contacting me. When I arrived, one of the patient’s daughters took me aside and told me that she had heard what I had said the day before and wanted to tell me what had happened with his death. She said she called her mother and sister when the nurse told them she would be there soon. He leaned forward and said to his unresponsive father, “Dad, they’re coming. You and I both know we’re the only ones who can handle this. So if you want to go, you must go now.” He died within 5 minutes of the arrival of his wife and daughter.
I believe everything happens for a reason and I was not notified of her death to help my daughter tell me her story.
There was another patient who had an open discussion at our first meeting. She said she was a mother and didn’t want her children to suffer. A depressing comment that was explained with his death five days later. She had her daughter at home and the nurse told her that the patient was going to die soon. The girl left the room to call her brothers, and at that moment the patient breathed his last. All the adults showed up within minutes only to find they weren’t on time. While we waited at the funeral home, the family spoke of the patient’s strong independence. I told her that her mother didn’t want me to see her “scenes” and that she decided to leave before she arrived. It was a moment for them when they laughed and agreed to do exactly what he did. Of course they were sad that she wasn’t there, but they said they believed my mother would protect them by dying before she arrived.
These are just a few examples of cases where I have seen patients who have chosen to die in the absence of a loved one. As with other articles on assumptions, the purpose of this article is to uncover some of the hidden assumptions we or family members may have and how we can best support them in their journey.
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Lizzie Miles, MA, MSW, LSW is a hospice social worker in Columbus, Ohio and the author of Happy Hospital Stories: Somewhere in Between: Hokey Pokey, Chocolate Cake, and the Common Death Experience. Lizzy is famous for bringing the Death Cafe concept to the US. You can find her on Twitter @LizzyMiles_MSW
Note: To continue reading articles about beliefs, the next part in the series: Dying is not enough for a family to forgive friends’ visits and
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