The Last Days
The last loving act we can do for our parents is to give them a peaceful, pain free passing, with things happening the way they wanted. If your parents haven’t been able to discuss their preferences with you, they may have talked to their doctor and made an advanced care plan. Do share their preferences with close family and friends. Following the wishes of the person who is dying may mean making decisions that are different from any we would have chosen. By sharing their wishes it helps every one to support and work together.
Before she lost her ability to talk, my mother made it very clear that she did not want her life with Parkinson’s prolonged. Early on, I let her wishes be well known, to ensure we carried them out. When the time came, I was the one who needed the support! It was exceptionally hard to let the doctors stop certain treatments. I was not ready to let my adored mother go.
Here is a list of things you need to know/prepare:-
- The end of life care your loved one wishes to receive.
- Your relative’s doctor/nurse should talk to your parent and create an advanced care plan, which records how they would like to be cared for if they become too ill to communicate their wishes in the future. It should cover topics like resuscitation and whether you would like to have antibiotics if they get an infection in the last few weeks. The plan can be changed at any time.
- Living Wills, advanced decisions and advanced statements can also be made. (finance and legal).
- Where end of life care is to be received.
- How their care will be paid for.
- If you chose to receive care at home, in a care home or in a hospice your parent should be assessed for NHS continuing care. Continuing care is professional care given to meet the physical or mental health needs of adults with a disability, injury or illness over an extended period of time. The package of care the NHS arrange is fully funded by the NHS
- If you are relying on local authority funding for a care home, your parent can not go into a care home which charges more than this unless they/ the family pay the difference.
- Who you should call
- to say their final goodbye
- to notify when your loved one dies
- What the funeral arrangements are/will be
Some parents make funeral arrangements ahead of time so check if this has been done or if they have any special wishes. Funeral arrangements can be made at anytime. The doctor or nurse who confirms the death will usually ask about the funeral home and often call the home for you.
Changes that occur as a person dies vary from one person to the next. Some changes may be unsettling but the more we understand what is happening, the better we will be able to handle the situation. If you would like to know more, do read our article ‘Changes that happen when someone is dying”
If one of your parents is very ill or frail you may well be expecting the end and even rationalised that it will be merciful. However when the inevitable happens, it still comes as a shock. Although rationally you may have taken it on board, there will still be the resulting emotions to deal with. Losing a parent is devastating. If you have been caring for that person, the loss is even greater as the part of your life that revolved around them has also gone, leaving a double void.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with your grief. Everyone has to find their own way through it and, as such, it can feel lonely. I felt totally numb after my parents died. All advice I was given on what I should or should not do, I simply took as people showing they cared. So I thanked and hugged them all and then only did what I felt was right. It worked for me – I needed hugs and didn’t want people to worry about saying the ‘right’ thing. Being numb, I found a purpose in getting on with the many practical things that had to be done :-
- Registering the death
- Arranging the funeral
- Settling your parent’s affairs
- Supporting your surviving parent
- Dealing with your affairs
Bereavement Support Organisations
The following organisations offer support to people who have suffered a bereavement: