Coping With Death



  • Pain Medication At The Time Of Death (8/97)
  • Could I Have Done More?
  • A Parable
  • A Time To Mourn
  • Pain Medication At The Time Of Death (8/97)

    Many people with CF die when their CO2 levels in their blood go sky high. This is a calm way to go, and medication is generally not needed in this situation. Other PWCF’s benefit from the use of medication at this time. Some places use Valium or an intravenous drip morphine for such cases.

    Early discussion (i.e., now, not later when it becomes a present issue) with the CF doctor is typically advised, to get it out of the way, provide peace of mind, and assure that the person gets the best care possible when it’s most needed. It might relieve the person, also, to know that palliative care is available in the event it is needed.

    (8/97) A member of CYSTIC-L asked: Since you are a Palliative care worker and have seen many people die, please answer a question for me. Most people do not want to be in pain and today, most pain can be controlled. However, those of us who suffer lung disease fear suffocation. Not being able to breathe can cause one to panic and it does conjure up a terrible picture!! So, what is done for these types of patients. Can they die fairly peacefully with their family around them? Or do they go screeching and gasping into the night?

    A palliative care worker replied: To answer your question: yes, deaths I have witnessed all were peaceful. For patients with advanced lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, (and cf does fall into the catagory ) of COPD included, doctors in our hospital use morphine that is inhaled by mask. This medication can be given without heavy sedation without sedating the patient, and gives the patient relief of “air hunger” or the feeling of “suffocation.”  This is a recently new way to administer this drug by inhalation. If your doctor or clinic is not familar with this, please have them check with a pallative care program. >snip< I honestly don’t know how many hospitals or doctors reccomend this, as I say it is a fairly new treatment.


    Could I Have Done More?

    How many times have I asked myself this question … and how many times have I cried because I doubted myself.

    In his recent article, talking to a mother who lost a son, although Dr. Jack Jacoby speaks in the masculine gender, we understand that he includes both genders in his answer…and with a sensitivity that touched my fragile soul. He wrote:

    I have tried to find an answer. If I could have a moment, I would say the following things:

    You gave your son life. You gave him shelter — a home. You gave him food and drink. You clothed him. You taught him right from wrong, gave him your values and built up his character. When he needed you, you were there for him. When he was triumphant, you shared his joy. When he was sick, you cared for him, encouraged him and cried for him. You loved him with all your heart, and when that wasn’t enough, you loved him even more. You stayed with him until the bitter end, yea even unto the shadow of death.

    How could you have done more?

    You did everything.


    A Parable

    of Death As A Transition to A Better Afterlife

    Stickney, Doris. Waterbugs and Dragonflies. New York : Pilgrim Press, 1982. (ISBN – 0829806091)

    Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about with its friends. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily, it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

    “Look!” said one of the water bugs to another. “One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you suppose she is going?” Up, up, up it went slowly. Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return. “That’s funny!” said one water bug to another. “Wasn’t she happy here?” asked a second water bug. “Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third. No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled.

    Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. “I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.” “We promise,” they said solemnly.

    One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water, and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.

    When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings. The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly.

    Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by, the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were, scurrying about, just as he had been doing some time before. Then the dragonfly remembered the promise: “The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why.”

    Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water. “I can’t return!” he said in dismay. “At least I tried, but I can’t keep my promise. Even if  I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they’ll understand what happened to me, and where I went.

    And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air.”


    A Time To Mourn

    (author unknown, submitted by Lori Morris)

    “I’ll lend you for a little while a child of mine”, He said. “For you to love the while she lives and mourn for when she’s dead. It may be six or seven years, or forty-two or three, but will you, till I call her back, take care of her for me? I cannot promise she will stay, since all from earth return, But there are lessons taught down there, That I want this child to learn. I’ve looked the worldwide over in my search for teachers true, And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you.”

    I fancied that I heard you say, “Dear Lord thy will be done.” For all the joy this child shall bring, the risk of grief, we’ll run. We’ll shelter her with tenderness, we’ll love her while we may, And for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay. But shall the angels call for her much sooner than we’ve planned, We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.”