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Can't resolve how Dad died 6 days ago


Registered User
Mar 16, 2015
My Dad was 85 years old. We all knew, including himself, that he was experiencing severe memory loss, irritation, and borderline aggressive behavior - coming on quite quickly in the past 6 months. No diagnosis of Alzheimer's was ever given - largely because he managed to hoodwink the local doctor (small rural town), and my mother went along with it. Dad had a heart attack 9 days ago; but he was lucid and walked into the ER and then into the next steps of his care. He had a DNR order, but he was not there yet. He was offered the option of a pacemaker, and he said clearly to the docs and family members present that he would like the pacemaker as he had plans to complete. This was Day 1. A temp external PM was installed, and then his behavior deteriorated quickly. My reading about dementia tells me this might have been due to the trauma of the hospital experience or the heart condition. He exhibited (according to family members - I was not there) severe aggression toward my mother and hospital staff - he asked one of his daughters to get some scissors and cut the tubes off of him. He repeated several times he wanted to go home. My mother is on record as saying she was petrified of him (only now, not having stated anything of the kind in the recent past) and wanted him to pass. One of the last lucid things my father said, when he tried to sit up and asked to be released - "this is entrapment"... Granted the prognosis - post pacemaker - was grim... a nursing home and steady deterioration... but he did say he wanted it as he had plans to completeWhile the procedures were underway, I was texting my opinion to family members, asking them to assure me it was my father's wish as well, not to have the internal pacemaker installed. The responses came in that he was no longer capable of making decisions himself. . Since I was not there, I could not insist otherwise. A consultation among family members and doctor came up with a decision NOT to install the pacemaker, to remove the temp external pacemaker and let nature take its course. Indeed, his heart was so weak that it took only 24 hours for him to die - surrounded by his loved ones (I was still not there - in mid-flight).

I am a person of faith, a practicing Catholic - and I am trying to reconcile my faith that he is on his way to eternity, with the manner in which he passed. I cannot share my suspicions with family members, and I want to be rid of the feelings. I feel almost sinister in my attitude, however I know enough that if I do not clarify what went on, and find a way to forgive family members - if that is what it comes to, I will suffer for my life. Help me see this through...or what can I do?


Registered User
Sep 20, 2011
I am so sorry to read about you dad. It is always shocking when we lose someone close, but especially when it was so unexpected.

I do understand how you feel that your dad was let down by his family, but I feel sure that the hospital wouldn't have allowed his condition to worsen if they could have prevented it. I am also sure that the family made the best decisions for your dad that they could, under the circumstances. Sometimes, we make choices that may not be the choice another would make, but that is not to say that there was anything other than best interests involved.

Your mum sounds like she was having a difficult time with him before he was admitted, but probably her loyalty to him prevented her from disclosing how she felt at home. I know that feeling well.

If it were me, I think I would have to believe that everyone acted in, what they considered at the time, to be in dad's best interest. If you don't believe that, you will torture your mind.

Just my own thoughts.


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
Sometimes with medical conditions something that initially seem so right can suddenly become so very wrong.
I would guess from what you have written that your dads dementia was much, much more advanced than anyone realised and that is why he reacted so badly - and suddenly everyone was faced with a whole new ball game.
FWIW I think I would, given the circumstances you have described, have made the same decision as your family. I would also add that I am a person of faith too.


Registered User
May 21, 2014
Surgery, plus the accompanying general anaesthetic would be a trauma for every 85 year old. For someone with dementia it makes everything infinitely worse. Your family members had to weigh up the pros and cons - and you said yourself the prognosis with a pacemaker was far from good. It is doubtful whether your Dad would have understood all the surgery implications. Sometimes we have to accept that it's kinder to let someone go naturally.


Registered User
Apr 5, 2010
About 8 years ago a friend's Mum with AD had the operation under general anaesthetic. She never regained consciousness and remained like that for at least a year after which she passed away due to infection.

Sometimes medical intervention is seen as prolonging death rather than life.

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