Being there at the end


Registered User
May 1, 2005
Me again

long time no see then 2 posts in one day, sorry!

Where to begin....well I dont think my dad has very long to be with us now, as it is at the moment I am first port of call for the hospital if anything is to happen, or dad is showing signs of severe detriation.

I have a dilemma, I dont personally want to be in the room when dad passes away, I know it is more likely he will pass in his sleep when we arent there...and the thought of him being alone upsets me more than anything, BUT i still dont want to be there when it happens, if that makes sense...

I would rather have a phone call after, telling me dad has passes away.

I dont know what to do.....

It is difficult anyway because I have an 8 month baby who will not be left at night with anyone else, not even her daddy without becoming hysterical...but then it wont necessarily be at night will it?

I seem to be very preoccupied about when and how dad is going to pass away, is this normal?????

love Jane x


Registered User
Oct 28, 2005
Cambridgeshire UK
near the end

Hi Jane,

My Dad died on Boxing Day last year but not from AD, he had a lung disease and other stuff. I said all along I didn't want to be there when he went, I wanted to get a call to hear he had gone but he did go when my husband and Mum and I were visiting. It wasn't 'as bad' as I thought it would be, he was sleeping and sedated and he just did a couple of big sighs and was gone. I can't say I'm glad I was there but like you, I didn't want him to be alone. I have no way of knowing if he knew we were there or not, probably he didn't.

As you have your baby and can't leave her, have you told the hospital how you feel and about the baby? We had more than a 10 mile journey to the hospital and if I remember correctly we said if he went at night in his sleep, not to ring up until about 7am. Sounds awful now but that was what we said. I'm waffling as usual, can never write down what I want to say. The nurses told us when they thought Dad would go and they were right, we got there in the morning and they said it would be a few hours. It's very hard and you have my sympathy.

Sorry I can't be more helpful but your post caught my eye as I had said exactly the same as you, I did not want to be there when he went but, I was and it was very sad and upsetting but we coped.

Love Twink/Sue

Nutty Nan

Registered User
Nov 2, 2003
Dear Jane,
What a dreadful worry! I am sure everyone will fully respect your need to be at home with your baby, as well as your reluctance to be present 'at the end'.

Would it be possible for someone else to be first in line to receive the phone call rather than you, to take the pressure off you a bit?
Try not to worry too much - we all switch into auto-pilot when a crisis develops, and you will just follow your instinct according to the situation at the time.

Best wishes!!


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
BUT i still dont want to be there when it happens, if that makes sense...
I understand entirely. But it is a quandary, isn't it?

In your situation, just do what you feel is best for everyone concerned. He won't know if you are there or not, most likely.

Speaking about my own situation, I will try my utmost to be there for Jan. As a spouse I feel I have that responsibility, even if I didn't want to do it - which I do.

I think it will in some sense give me greater/quicker closure on the nightmare that has been our lives for 15 years so far.

Jan always wanted to have one or two cats in our home. The first cat she bought, a glorious Russian Blue/Persian cross called Sebastian, suffered from the bane of cats - kidney failure - and at the end I left him with the vet, so he could be put to sleep quietly. I didn't feel I could be with him at the end.

I've always regretted that, for 25 years now.

Three of our other cats have died since then, two from kidneys, one from a tumour, and Jan could never be with them at the end, but I always had them die in my arms. Their passing was sad, but in a strange way, quite lovely. I could see there was no pain, and they looked perfectly at peace as they went. I would then carry them down the garden, barely able to see where I was going because my eyes were streaming so, and bury them in a special place where we have laid our cats to rest.

I want to be with Jan at the end, though I have no idea how I'll be at the time.

I want to see her at peace, and in some way to hand her over to that peace. Though it would be quite impossible, I would like her to cross the threshold, turn and say "thanks for helping me through, see you later, I'll have some Welsh cakes ready for you".

Yep, I'm quite barmy, but we always lived in a sort of dream world, and it is too late to stop now.


Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
Brucie said:
I think it will in some sense give me greater/quicker closure on the nightmare that has been our lives for 15 years so far.
I want to see her at peace, and in some way to hand her over to that peace.
Bruce, somehow I feel that it will be Jan handing you over to the peace you both deserve.

Brucie said:
... I always had them (the cats) die in my arms. Their passing was sad, but in a strange way, quite lovely. I could see there was no pain, and they looked perfectly at peace as they went. I would then carry them down the garden, barely able to see where I was going because my eyes were streaming so, and bury them in a special place where we have laid our cats to rest.
Several times now, I have resisted using analogies involving animals (& their illnesses, and eventual ends) in case people take offence at the parallel with pets and their loved ones.
My lovely Irish Setter developed severe arthritis and then cancer. There was no doubt about the right-ness of the decision which had to be made on her behalf. She was in pain, couldn't walk more than a few yards at a time and had to be carried up & down the steps to the garden. So we arranged to take a day off work and had the vet come out to the house at a pre-arranged time. Before that we spent the whole morning with her, threw away the special diet sheet & gave her a little of all the things she loved most; we groomed her (which she also loved) and when the vet arrived, we made her a coffee and asked her to sit with us for a few minutes until Bella thought that she was just a visiting friend. We carried on petting & grooming her, and she hardly noticed the injection which gave her peace from pain and imprisonment in a body which would no longer allow her spirit to run free. She just lay her head in my lap & went to sleep. Her last movement was a gentle wag. Then we wept buckets, for days. I still miss falling over her every 5 minutes on Christmas day, as she used to be in the kitchen, gently serenading the turkey from the moment it went in the oven until it came out again. Her ghost is still there every year, but it doesn't trip me up.

I'm sorry, I supposed the above was self-indulgent, but once I started it just flowed, as did more tears. I hope no one feels it is too out of place.


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Several times now, I have resisted using analogies involving animals (& their illnesses, and eventual ends) in case people take offence at the parallel with pets and their loved ones.
Me too, but Jan was so close to our beloved cats so why leave them out of it? and I was not so much linking the kindly hastening of their passing, more the way - peaceful, and loving.


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
Bruce and Lynne
Sad Posts.
Over the years Peg and i have had many animals dogs and cats and we loved them all,but there is a sadness when they go,they are part of the family.
The last one we lost was a little stray,a she cat we called Kitty.
She moved in during the early days of Peg's illness,as if she had come to help me cope,and she did.
I loved that cat and she loved me and I miss her now after about 12 months.
She had a heart condition and went blind,the only alternative was to have her put to sleep and like Bruce I too regret that I did not stay with her to the end.
I don't know why I didn't,I stayed with others in the past,cowardly I suppose.
I sat in the car and wept,like I am doing as I type this now.
I will be with Peg until the end,I wish there was a way that we could go together.
She worries about getting lost and I try to comfort her telling her to wait for me and I will come as soon as I can,then we can be together again.
I pray that I don't go first and leave her on her own,I have to survive to look after her until our nightmare is over.
Norman sad
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Registered User
Nov 28, 2004
Dear Jane. I don't know if I can help, or that I'll just make things worse for you, but I have been present with so many patients at the end of their lives. It was always very calm and peaceful, and very natural. I also found that because our bodies are naturally at their lowest point in the early hours, many patients died at this time.

When my Dad was terminally ill, it was a different story. I was so frightened at being there at the end, although because Mum didn't wish to be there, I decided I had to stay home with her and my brother was to take the call. He was with Dad at the end. Had I known at the time that Mum wasn't understanding properly (didn't know she had AD at the time), I would have gone to be with him too. Now, I regret not being there so very much, and want him back so that I can tell him. I think I'm trying to say that there is nothing to fear in the process of dying itself, it's more that you are losing that person, and all the fear and desperation that goes with that. That is the worst part.

I shall think about you. I hope I haven't upset you isn't my intention.


Registered User
Oct 29, 2005
Leeds, UK
Hi Jane,
imagine your dad when u were a kid, and u talking to him now.
If you asked him, he'd tell you of course look after your baby, it's hard I know and guilt is part of grieving, but I am sure he'd want his grandchild looked after



Registered User
Aug 23, 2005
Dear Jane

David's comments are so right - and I hope you'll gain some comfort from them and not feel guilty about putting your baby and your feelings first.

From my own experience: I would have liked to have been with Dad when he died (just to hug him and tell him how much everyone loved him) but was 60 miles away. I've never felt bad about that though (about everything else but not that!). I got there as soon as I could - a couple of hours after he'd died.

At the risk of sounding really odd, I confess that I hugged him, kissed him goodbye, told him I loved him so much, combed his hair (he loved having his hair combed) and I even cleaned his finger nails (which I always did for him).

Mum was not really with it and her sisters were there, as was my brother and his daughters. I suggested to my brother that he and Mum sort out some clothes for Dad -as he was in his pyjamas.

When the Funeral Director arrived I stayed in the room while they changed Dad and I went with them to their vehicle - and tapped on the door as they drove away. I had to do these things. I'm crying my eyes out as I tell you this. I'd never thought about it I just did what came naturally.

Things weren't straight forward thereafter as next morning Mum blanked me (but I'm not gonna bore you again with this) so I went to the Chapel of Rest a couple of times just to talk really.
I found none of this horrible - because it was Dad's body .

So you need to follow your heart and certainly not what others may/may not expect of you.

Your Dad loves you for who you are - as did mine.

Chin Up - aren't /weren't we lucky to have such wonderful Dads?

Luv Ellie


Registered User
Jul 2, 2005
I am pretty sure that I have read somewhere that a lot of people die just when the attending family have popped out for a break, particularly those who have struggled against painful disease, who often are 'holding on' as much if not more so for their loved ones than themselves.

Certainly my mother, whom it was thought had several months to live quietly died on the first weekend in months that my brother and his wife were spending one night away, leaving her in the care of a nurse. I'm not saying she fixed it, just that it suited her better not having caring worried faces peering at her.

It is probably is not quite the same with mental illness, but I don't think I want people sitting for days, glancing at watches, round my bedside while I expire. When I am really ill, I want to be left alone - it is only when I am getting over flu I start being indignant that people are not popping there heads round the door every five minutes.

My mother, when learning of the modern trend for fathers to be present at births, was horrified at the thought "I don't think they would be born yet, if Bill had been in the room," she said, when the oldest of us was about 40. For her, I am sure it was more dignified to die with a kindly nurse present, rather than us.

Everyone feels guilt when someone dies, but don't beat yourself up, and make your baby suffer, if you are not there.


Registered User
Jul 18, 2005
Hi Jane
2 years ago i was in the same position as you except it was my wonderful Nan.

My daughter was very small and had never stayed with my hubby on her own. However when i got the call that my Nan wasn't expected to last much longer i made the decision to jump in the car and travel the 450 miles from where i lived in Scotland to my Nan's hospital, leaving my daughter with my hubby.

I have never regretted it.

I too was worried about being there at the end as i had never seen a dead person before.

The day i arrived my Nan was chatting away, telling me i needn't have travelled so far (she didn't know she was dying) acting completely normal. The next morning i got a phone call from the Ward Sister saying she had literally minutes to live.

Needless to say i drove like as bat out of hell to get there to kneel at her bedside with my Mom holding her hands and telling her we loved her to see her eyes grow dim and close and drift into such a peaceful pain-free 'sleep'. It was such a relief to see that your dying moments aren't as you see them on TV. I found it very peacful and comforting to be there, the two people she loved most in the world and she was off to see my grandad who she'd been apart from for 27 years.

Oh, and my hubby had 3 sleepless nights before they joined us for the funeral which was to be a week later. It did my hubby and daughter the world of good to be on their own together for a while!!

It's strange that this thread caught my eye. Only this week i bought a large picture frame and have made a collage of old photos of my nan and grandad from when i was a kid when they ran a pub. It's got pride of place in my living room and i love looking at it and feeling like they're still there and part of my life.

Well, that chapter has closed and another chapter opens - my aunt, who i lived with from age 8 has been diagnosed with AD and is refusing to see any doctors or specialists as she says 'there is nothing wrong with me'. Ho hum :(

Take care Jane, when the time comes you'll know what to do. :)


Registered User
Oct 17, 2003
Hi Jane

When Mum was dying I felt just the opposite, having been their when dad died i desparately wanted to be with Mum when she died to, I am the only one and I did not want her to be alone. Like you I spent the last 3 weeks of her life being pre-oocupied with her death. I spent hours searching the Internet looking for end of life signs so that I would know when the time was near. Eventually I found some sites that took me through the last weeks, days, hours and minutes. It wasn't morbid but helped me to be really prepared and know when the end would be. I could not stay with Mum overnight in the hospital as I too have a child and a husband who works long hours, but Mum passed away mid morning when I was there. I got the call from the Nursing Home in the middle of the night a couple of days before hand when she was transferred but my son was away on a field trip so we could just get up and go. It was almost as if she was trying to make her own passing as easy as possible. I am sure that whatever happens will be the right thing for you and your family.

best wishes



Registered User
Nov 15, 2005

Geraldine, I wonder if you could direct me to the websites you've mentioned. This is something that is on my mind at the moment, although we havent reached the final stage yet. I just keep wondering when it will be.


Registered User
Mar 13, 2004
Dear Jane

I know precisely what you are going through.

My mum was in hospital for 3 months before she died in March. We had a bedside vigil going on for the last 4 days as they told us she had hours to live, but she hung on for another 4 days. Dad and I were with her at all times. We were determined that she would not be alone when she passed but we both dreaded the moment of her passing. My mum would have known this. We were asked to step outside the ward for a moment while the nurses made mum more comfortable. She slipped off while we were outside. I was very relieved and felt my mother's joy on the moment of her passing and great great peace. She was free and I felt that.

I worried a lot about being there at the time of her actual death. But these things often take care of themselves. I think mum chose her time to the second.

My thoughts are with you now as I know what a difficult time this is for you and your family. Be sure Jane that you will survive and cope. You really will.


Registered User
Jul 15, 2005
My Mom was such a strong woman, she was with my Father who died at age 40 of colon cancer, then her mother and then her father. I never thought I could do what she did. Now however, knowing that AD is terminal, I will be there and do for her what she so bravely did for others. I just pray I will be up to it.


Registered User
Mar 16, 2005
Yesterday I spoke to my Mum about this issue and she told me about when her parents died. I was very young at the time and we've never spoken about it in such detail before.

Her Dad died at home, in his 50's from cancer after having been looked after at home by her Mum. My Mum actually determined that he was dead using a mirror.

Her Mum died, a year later, in hospital and, although my Mum was at the hospital at the time she could not bring herself to go in to see her Mum.

I guess however much we plan it just depends, not only on the person, but also on the circumstances and feelings at the time.


Registered User
Sep 26, 2005
Am I being selfish


a death is like every other major event in our lives - personal. You may have friends with children but the birth of your own child is deeply significant to you. So it is with a death. Everyone goes through the loss of family but your own events are what matters to you. Whether you decide to be there or not you need to be content with your decision. Right now this situation is unique to you and it should be followed through unique to your family. Say your goodbye in a way that is comfortable to you and remember that this chapter is only a small part of what you shared. Keep happier memories in your heart.

love to you

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