Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Transitions - Accepting Separations

One of the hardest things to deal with at the moment is my mom's general state of unresponsiveness. To my voice. To my touch. To my kisses.

And even worse, even more hurtful, is when she seems to respond just a little more to the Kit Kat and the Blue Jay than she does to me.

"Loss of emotional closeness is sometimes most painful for loved ones as the dying person separates from them. This happens when the one who is sick begins to focus on the process of dying rather than staying alive."

A person near dying has little reserve energy to give back into relationships with even those who are close.

The dying person may not be able to risk vulnerability of growing closer while preparing the enormous task of transitioning.

You can help prepare by letting the sick person set the pace and the intensity of these last days or hours together. A dying person usually does not want lengthy conversations. If he or she needs to separate, allow a quiet time to buffer your need to keep the person close and that person's need to slip past loving ties. Your loved one may want you always near or wait for solitute in which to slip away. You will ease the transition by allowing the person to guide you.

Separating from relationships may be more painful for caregivers left behind than the actual death. Separation is normal for the dying person. Understanding can ease some of our pain, anger and disappointment when a loved one withdraws from emotional connections. Inability to continue relationships suggest a refocusing rather than rejection or loss of concern for loving ties.

. . .

As the dying person decides to separate, he or she may grow calm, peaceful, or remote. Letting go replaces holding on. Stay near and quietly available. Your gentle presence may be all that is needed.

This is the time for family left behind to change focus somewhat.

Comfort and take comfort from others. Allow the death transition and sorrow of losing someone very dear to come to full expression.

Understanding separation as an important part of dying allows acceptance of the dying person's remoteness.

Yet understanding will not stop our feelings of helplessness, rejection and loss.

No. No, it won't. But at least it does help explain it. A little.


Casdok said...

That was interesting, thank you for sharing.
I can understand abit how hard this must be for you as my father is also dying.

MMC said...

I am truly sorry, my friend.

Kris, in New England said...

Michelle - I am so sorry. I truly do understand what you mean though. My dad passed away in 1995. On his last day (he died at home) my mom and I were with him, as well as my brother's wife. My dad never liked his daughter-in-law (for good reason).

As the 3 of us stood by his bed, he pushed my mom's hand away and reached for - the DIL. It was such a shock to my mom. Very hurtful, even though we are certain my dad probably didn't know who was who by his bedside.

Doesn't take away the pain of the hurt though.


Balancing Act said...

I am so sorry that you are going through this Michelle. As I see my father age as much as he has it gets harder. I see how excited my dad gets to see his grandchildren and not as excited to see me. I know how much he loves us but I think of it as it reminds them of what youth is like and how wonderful it can be. I also think that your mother knows you understand how she is feeling but may not want to show the same response to your children as it is harder for them to understand. I would have a very hard time explaining such things to my children. I wish you the best and know that you are getting virtual (((hugs))) from New England.