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Old 08-22-2017, 03:09 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,571 posts, read 42,724,437 times
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I have just learned that my sweet sister's cancer is now terminal. She's been fighting metastatic breast cancer for years, but is now at the end of treatment options. We live far apart. She has a husband, two daughters and a son. She is 67 and the children are adults.
I'm giving myself until tomorrow to gather my thoughts and get my feelings under control.
I want to be helpful and comforting, not a bundle of neediness.
If she wants me to go there, I will.

If anyone has been in the same position of losing a family member. What are the things that you feel were helpful to say, or do?
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Old 08-22-2017, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Arizona
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Do what she asks of you. Talk when she wants to talk. Times in the past that makes them laugh are usually good.

If she doesn't want you to come, don't. Don't ask her why. This isn't about you. Don't bring up religion. She can but you shouldn't.

If you go do things to help the family. They are going to be very busy. Don't expect to be entertained.
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Old 08-22-2017, 05:15 PM
 
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This is really hard, gentlearts. You know her very well, and know whether she would be comforted or not by you bringing up religious thoughts, and you know whether she would want nice long nostalgic discussions.

One of the very comforting thoughts for my mother, as she faced her death, was the thought that her life had been very "fruitful". That the world is a better place for her having been here. I think maybe bringing up a few of those points - ways she's made the world a better place, and how her legacy will live on, might be very important for her to feel.

Is she well enough to enjoy activities - even a short trip to a favorite place? A small gathering of friends for a brief visit?

Do you know about how much time she has left?
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Old 08-22-2017, 05:44 PM
 
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I just lost my sister late last year to MS, she was 68. I loved her and miss her but for the last year or so she could not speak due to losing vocal muscles. She didn't want friends and what's left of family to see her is what my brother told me as he tried to visit her. I live on WC and could not travel to see her due to my arthritic issues. Every time I called her we would try to have a conversation and I always told her how much I love her.

Hold her hand and just tell her you love her. It's a tough one but I don't know your family dynamics so can't say much else. Sisters are forever. So sorry.
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,851 posts, read 51,316,975 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkalot View Post
Do what she asks of you. Talk when she wants to talk. Times in the past that makes them laugh are usually good.

If she doesn't want you to come, don't. Don't ask her why. This isn't about you. Don't bring up religion. She can but you shouldn't.

If you go do things to help the family. They are going to be very busy. Don't expect to be entertained.
^^^ This.

Sometimes there are questions after the death of a loved one, where everyone goes "I'll bet Jane knew the answer to this. I wish she were here to ask." If there are questions you might have about family relations, or anything non-traumatic, this might be a time to make a mental list and have those as fuel for conversation when talk grinds to a halt.
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Old 08-24-2017, 12:19 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,571 posts, read 42,724,437 times
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Thanks for all the good advice. I spoke to her yesterday and she's in pretty good spirits, considering. We just shared family news. She kept apologizing for talking about her sickness, but I assured here that I'm glad to talk about whatever she wants, any time.

Her doctor is still treating her tumors with radiation, so it s not as though she's ready to take to her deathbed. She and her husband may make a trip to visit their daughter in TX. She talked about her car lease being up in 6 months, so she isn't giving up yet.

So, bottom line is that she knows she's terminal, but she's just making the most out of every day. I told her, that I do the same thing, and none of us guaranteed any more than today. She and the doctor have discussed palliative care. Nobody has discussed a time table. In my head, I feel she will be here this Christmas, but probably not next.

Oh, and she asked me if I wanted to be buried or cremated, and I told her, so I know she's dealing with the reality.
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Old 08-24-2017, 11:59 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
22,712 posts, read 21,760,954 times
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When my mother was very ill, dying, I used to leave a short, thoughtful message every day. No need to call back. It was always about things that we had done or experienced together. Do you remember when we...? Two miles or 200, I made those calls. It might be the last time she hears you. I hate the way that sounds, but it's true.

When we were kids, my sister drew a line in chalk across the middle of the bedroom that we shared. My clothes were on the other side of the line. I remind her of this at least once a year, and it always makes her laugh.

Remind her that you know just about everything about her. You grew up in the same house.
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Old 08-25-2017, 01:00 AM
 
Location: Glasgow Scotland
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When my cousin died recently of lung cancer she had known for over a year that it was hopeless after treatment... so when I went to visit,, I would go in , smile, ask her how things were and make us tea.... I would test her reactions on the day and go with the flow.. if she seemed cheery Id talk about old times, funny things that happened when we were growing up... other relatives and how their getting on or where they all are now.... then Id take some old photos each time I went.. and we d discuss when and where they were taken... Id ask her about TV shows she had been watching..and discuss the plots etc...... I offered on more than a few occassions if she felt strong enough to allow us to take her in our car to see places she had never seen in Scotland.. but she thought by then that it would be too much for her sadly..... it was never tense or scary... we gabbed as if she had years to live.. but near the end she kept saying she was fed up with it all and wished it was over... thats when the breaks go on and people are lost for words... all I could say was, Yes it must be terrible, I think I understand.... My visits now are over... shes out of her pain..and what she wanted...... I feel I did it the right way. maybe some might disagree but she seemed to enjoy my visits, or at least I hope she did.... I always checked beforehand with her daughter if she was up for the visit before going...........I wish you strength at this worrying time...x
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Old 08-25-2017, 01:18 AM
 
7,031 posts, read 3,750,182 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post

If anyone has been in the same position of losing a family member. What are the things that you feel were helpful to say, or do?
I love you.

I'm here for you.

Then, just listen when (and if) she wants to talk about what she's feeling, experiencing, thinking.

Also, going forward, don't be afraid to laugh over funny stuff together, share memories of past good times, and talk about what's going on in your life.

In other words, talk to your sweet sister just as you always have.

Dying is hard business, and it will be a relief for both of you to be able to take a break now and then with regular day-to-day conversations.

Heartfelt hugs to both your sister and you for the journey ahead.

Last edited by RosieSD; 08-25-2017 at 01:37 AM..
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Old 11-01-2017, 06:30 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,571 posts, read 42,724,437 times
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I have tickets to visit my sister on the 8th. I thought, although she is very weak, we could just have quiet time together, and I could help her husband take care of her.

Tonight, her husband called to say she has taken a turn for the worse. Her daughter is flying in tomorrow from TX, and her other two children are in the same town.. If she is still alive next week, I’m thinking that I will not go. I don’t want to intrude on the immediate family, but I’m not sure this is the right thing or not. I guess I’ll wait a few more days to decide.
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