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What can you do for someone who only has months to live?

hawaiianorangetree

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
2,692
Today I went to what essentially was a wake, for someone who is still alive.

My Aunty found out about 2 weeks ago that she has cancer and only has a couple of months to live. At the gathering today I offered to help in any way that I could in the coming months, she thanked me but said that everything was organized. The councilors, nurses, palliative care etc was all taken care of for when the 'process' got underway.

I would still really like to do something for her but I don't know what. We are not close, I have only known her as an adult and have only seen her when my dad (it's his sister) stays there.

Cooking meals could be an option, but I know that she can't really eat that much already so it may not be that helpful.

I thought about a gift voucher for some pampering but she is clostraphobic and is probably in pain so she wouldnt want to be touched.

I'm really at a loss for anything to do for her and her family, but I still want to help.

Does anybody who has been in this type of situation have any idea on what I could do?
 

diamondringlover

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 12, 2006
Messages
3,873
Just be there for her, talk to her, comfort her, my MIL died from lung cancer in 1992 and she just wanted my company....prayers going out to you and your family.
 

marcy

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Feb 27, 2007
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24,113
I am sorry to hear about your aunt. She probably just wants your company and will appreciate the time you spend with her.
 

hawaiianorangetree

Ideal_Rock
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Jan 17, 2009
Messages
2,692
Thank you diamondrnglover and Marcy, you are both right. Today she said she liked being around people (part of the reason she hhad the wake) so I guess that is one thing I can do for her.

It just feels so helpless and I wish I could do more :(sad
 

somethingshiny

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2007
Messages
6,746
I'm sorry to hear this.

She's at the end of her life now. The only thing that could do any good is to be there with her. She may have some loose ends to tie up or something she's always wanted to say. She is not thinking about what she's going to have for dinner or going to a movie. If she is a religious woman, maybe you could offer to take her to a service, or confession, or temple or whatever. Do anything you can to help her to leave with peace.
 

MissGotRocks

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Jun 23, 2005
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12,654
The gift of your company is probably more than she could hope for - it really is the greatest gift we can give anyone.
 

luv2sparkle

Ideal_Rock
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Feb 3, 2008
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7,788
Spend as much time with her as you possibly can. If you can organize some family get togethers if she is up to it, maybe with only
a couple folks at a time. You can plan the food and the clean up.

The gift of your time is the most costly and precious gift you can give her, imo. If you think about it, it is probably what you would
want too.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,942
I'd say just be there and listen.
Offer any help with anything they care to receive.
 

Skippy123

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 24, 2006
Messages
24,299
MissGotRocks|1313850446|2994963 said:
The gift of your company is probably more than she could hope for - it really is the greatest gift we can give anyone.
ditto. I am soooo sorry. My aunt found out she had cancer and with in a few months passed. I spent time just talking to her. I am so glad I did that. My heart goes out to you. Even if you don't feel you have a lot to talk about I bet she will appreciate you being there and actually wanting to spend some time with her. huge hugs

eta: is she married? After my aunt had passed people forgot about her husband (kind of sad). Anyway, offer to take him meals a few times after; that is what my sister and I did.
 

JewelFreak

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
7,768
Excellent advice above. Be with her -- without pity. Talk normally, give her something to laugh about. When my mother had terminal cancer, her biggest wish was that everyone treat her as usual. If she detected pity, she was disgusted. Just bring life around your aunt, & your caring.

Also good advice about her husband, if she has one -- remember him now & especially afterwards.

Tough gig -- best thoughts for you & your family.
 

soocool

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
2,827
My good friend passed away in July from lung cancer. She was in hospice the last 2-3 weeks and had not told anyone until she was going into hospice that she had a few weeks to live (I was one of a few who knew she had lung cancer. she also had MS). I think only a few knew because we were the one who always kept in touch. Being with her, just sitting by her side holding her hand, probably meant the most to her. She knew what was in front of her and we just wanted to make her last moments as peaceful and happy (as happy as you could be). There were 6 of us in addition to her 2 stepchildren who took turns being with her through the day and night, because we did not want her to be alone when the moment came. (her husband was killed by a hit and run driver 6 years ago).
 

centralsquare

Ideal_Rock
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Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,201
Oh, so sorry to hear this. I think that knowing that you are there for her is probably the best thing you can do. Knowing you are just a phone call away will probably provide great comfort.
 

HollyS

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 18, 2007
Messages
6,099
Spend time with her. If you are close enough to her for it to seem geniune and normal for you to visit often - - do so. THAT will be what she'll need, when she's feeling up to it. If you love her, let her know.
 

junebug17

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Jun 17, 2009
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12,505
Just a quick thought - help her by helping her family? Offering to go to the grocery store or run errands for things she may need - other than that, just visiting and letting her know you're there for her.
 

ame

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
Messages
10,763
I don't have a lot to add besides I am sorry...I agree with everyone suggesting spending time with her, and I also really like the suggestion of help for her family. Meals for them, perhaps try to pay a bill for them on the sly, stuff that they don't have to worry about forgetting.
 

pregcurious

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 18, 2009
Messages
6,724
Be there for her when she can no longer take care of herself, and set up rotations so that she is not alone, even when unconscious. Make sure she gets the best palliative care available, follow through on helping with funeral arrangments, and anything that needs to be done for the estate (cleaning up the house, etc) based on what the executor of her will and heirs may need help with.
 

tina sparkle

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 21, 2005
Messages
171
Maybe you could go over with some lotion and give her a hand or foot massage. Often older people don't get enough touching and to me a hand massage is glorious. Also, tell her you love her, a good friend of mine passed away unexpectedly and I was so glad that I told her I loved her the last time I talked to her. So sorry.
 

allycat0303

Ideal_Rock
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Nov 19, 2004
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3,258
I'm really sorry to hear about your aunt. I think it's really kind of you that you want to be there for her. I think everyone handles death very differently, and from what I read, she seems to be a pragmatic, tough lady. Although you feel helpless, I don't think there is anything more you have to offer then companionship and support. Be willing to listen, and just be present when the time comes. Talk to her about her illness, and about your life too. Sometimes it's good to have a distraction from what is happening, and to remember that everyday can bring about a little joy.
 

Sha

Ideal_Rock
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Jun 27, 2007
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2,329
Great advice above. I might also think about sending her a card expressing how pleased you were to get to know her, even later in life, and the positive things that she brought to your life since meeting her.

This must be tough for her as well as the whole family. :(( I hope she is able to live out the rest of her time in a peaceful way.
 

iLander

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
6,731
Give auntie gifts of comfort; cashmere/cushy bed socks, mohair throws, down pillows, you'd be amazed how much this helps people when they're stressed.

I have this pair of socks, they are wonderful 98% cashmere, which is EXTREMELY hard to find and feels amazing. They keep your feet at the perfect temperature and feel silky and luxurious against your toes. Wonderful gift; http://www.feelingpampered.com/10caso.html I get a pair for Christmas every year, and this is the only place I've found them.

There are also some lovely cushy socks at Target, I went all over town looking for perfect socks (cushy, not to tight, warm but not hot, etc) for my aunt who had breast cancer, and they had them at Target.

When my grandmother was declining, I got her a 100% mohair throw, they are very light and warm, and I think she enjoyed it. She'd just rub the luxurious softness and stopped complaining about being cold.

A great down pillow is a huge help, I like these, and again, I have searched everywhere for the perfect combo of loft, fluffiness and contouring. These are the perfect proportion of resistance to compression: http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11602229&whse=BC&Ne=4000000&eCat=BC|90608|28683|435&N=4047338&Mo=27&No=2&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&cat=435&Ns=P_Price|1||P_SignDesc1&lang=en-US&Sp=C&hierPath=90608*28683*435*&topnav=

This is all very soothing, and hopefully you can bring some of it to the hospital. But she'll be tired before that point, and laying down in luxurious comfort will feel blissful.

I'm sorry if I'm not giving good advice emotionally, but at times like this (I have been through this with a lot of relatives, sadly), I tend to focus on practical matters.
 

packrat

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
10,615
I'm sorry HOT. Is she up to talking much? What about having her talk about her life/things she remembers about her family and kids if she has them, things she wants them to know about life etc..you could transcribe..I read a story about a mom who had cancer and spent hours w/a video camera recording everything she could think of for her little girls, so they'd always have something of her/from her.
 

swingirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,660
Send her little notes and cards. Home bound people really enjoy getting mail, even if it's just a clip from the newspaper or a card that says, "Hi".

I am sorry for your aunt and her family.
 

Kaleigh

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 18, 2004
Messages
29,570
I am so sorry to hear about your Aunt. It's gotta be very hard for you.

Having been in this situation more times than I would like. The gift of your time and compassion will mean the most. Just be there for her, let het talk. Hold her hand. Give her gentle hugs...

It's this kind of soothing comfort that really helps them when they are about to go...

I also know that saying good bye is always hard, but let her know you will be ok. That she will join loved ones in Heaven.


It's an ever evolving process.

I hope she passes with peace and love. That's all we can ever wish for.

Sending you a huge hug.
 

hawaiianorangetree

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
2,692
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your messages of love, encouragement and support. It really means a lot to me and you are giving me the strength to help my Aunty and be with her during this time.

Some of you asked about her husband. Unfortunately his health isn't really any better. He is a severe diabetic and has suffered from leukemia for many many years. He is weak and frail and also needs a carer. He hasn't stopped crying since they found out and he probably won't last long after she goes. They have arranged for him to go into care but I think he will probably die of a broken heart soon after.

I loved the practical suggestions as well. Thank you, I am going to try some of these. She has 2 grown children and one grandchild And I have offered my help to my cousins as well.

Thank you all again.
 

honey22

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 28, 2007
Messages
4,458
HOT, this might seem super corny but can you offer to take down some memoires or notes for her of her life? I was only thinking this cause a few years ago I was in this little bookshop on our honeymoon and found a set of books called My Mum and My Dad. They are filled with pages of questions that the recipiet is supposed to answer and you or whoever else gets to treasure these memories forever.

I gave one to my Mum over 18 months ago and I had almost given up hope of ever getting it back completed, but two weeks ago on a visit to see me she suprised me with it. I stayed up in bed with this beautiful collection of my Mum's memories, cried my eyes out and laughed and laughed. I saw a side of my Mum that I never knew.

She loved it. She got to take a trip down memory lane and said she thought of people and events in her life that she hadn't thought of for years. She also thought it was great for her to comfront some issues in her life and really think about things she might not have otherwise. She was really glad to got the opportunity to put some of her life down on paper and I have get to have her special memories that otherwise would have been lost with her when her time eventually comes.

If you want to, I could list some of the questions/ideas if you are interested? I know it's not for everyone.

ETA - I quite often think of my Mum now and giggle in the knowledge that she once threw a kitchen knife at her sister when she was a little girl - and got into trouble for breaking two piano keys, the whole knife throwing issue didn't seem that big of a deal compared to the damage to the piano lol!!! :o
 

hawaiianorangetree

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
2,692
Hi Honey nice to 'see' you again.

I love the idea of writing specific memories and moments down. I'm definitely going to offer to do it for her. I tried a few google searches and couldn't come up with any books like you mentioned. If you wouldn't mind I would love to hear some of the questions and ideas that were in your mums book if you have the time. Thank you. :))
 
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