Dealing with End of Life Moments

Once a loved one is preparing to depart this world; family, friends, and  the spouse and/or partner experience an endless multitude of emotions.  Some of which may or may not be appreciated by onlookers.  One of these such emotions is the feeling of wanting the end to come expeditiously.

The “roller coaster” of events that leads up to the end, puts everyone in a position of exhaustion.  As the loved one lingers, friends and family members may withdraw after saying their goodbyes.  Their intention is to be of support to the spouse or partner and to the loved one as well, but as so often can happen, the lingering death becomes too much, so they retreat.  I believe that the intention is not to leave anyone without support or care, but to conserve themselves.  I have, on so many occasions, heard the complaint of the spouse or partner that phone calls and/or visits from others were becoming increasingly diminished.  When its not imperative for a person to be present daily, choosing not to be present is often the case.  It’s not to say that this is wrong.  I can imagine that if a spouse or partner were free of personal obligation and love, that they too would chose to be elsewhere as well.

For when the spouse or partner has the daily task of caring for, comforting and loving their loved one, they do so at the detriment of themselves.  And rightfully so because one definition of loving someone in a relationship, is selflessness.

The selflessness of day in and day out being at their loved one side.  Making sure that their physical comfort and pain needs are attended to.  That perhaps, long overdue words are spoken.  And that final arrangements are discussed as well as end of life decisions.  With so much needing to be taken care of, its no wonder exhaustion sets in.  This selflessness is the exemplification of a loving relationship; so it embraced when we love someone.  But it’s when exhaustion begins to weaken ones resolve that thoughts of wanting the end to come sooner rather than later, begin to invade ones thoughts.

Hoping for the death of a loved one to come sooner adds guilt to the plethora of emotions at this time.  I’ve heard this, more than once, from the spouse or partner keeping the bedside vigil.  They ask when it will all be over, or why can’t the loved one just let go?  While it may sound harsh, unloving and seem not to be consistent with being selfless, its a fact that some don’t want to discuss.  The truth of the matter is, the partner/spouse is exhausted; mentally, physically, and/or emotionally exhausted.

They have witnessed the pain and struggle of their loved one and want for them to be free of their plight, but they too need to be free of their plight as well.  They wish no harm or ill will towards their loved one.  But their need to have normalcy without minute to minute emotional pain gives out to the need to keep the loved one physically here.  Therefore, they wish for the end.

I am a strong believer in the phrase, “everyone deals with death differently”.  While I am sure there are many people who never feel this way about their loved one when nearing the end, my experience is contrary to that.  And therefore, I believe that the hope for the expeditious end is neither wrong nor should shame be associated with it.  It’s a true emotion of grief.  And we all should be left to grieve in our own way.

We don’t ever want our loved ones to leave us, but death is a fact of life.  When we are faced with it, either our own or our loved one(s), we do what we have to do.  But more importantly, we feel what we have to feel.



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