The 5 Stages of Grief: Acceptance

Acceptance. The final stage among the 5 stages of grief. Interesting isn’t it? To think that there could be any other stage that would end the grief cycle and allow us to die. At some point, whether it be in that final breath, or weeks before, there comes a time, where one accepts the inevitable…

The 5 Stages of Grief: Depression

Margaret had been at the hospice house a couple days when I first met her. At 81 she had some periods of confusion, but for the most part her mind was pretty sharp. She had originally come in for symptom management, but the doctor was now thinking that she may be entering the active phase…

The 5 Stages of Grief: Bargaining

The 5 stages of grief as identified by Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages can become ways that both the dying and their loved ones cope with the long journey ahead. We have looked at denial and anger in previous posts. All the stages are well traveled  before a person’s…

What is a Good Death Experience?

What is a good death experience? How can the words good and death even be thought of in the same sentence you may wonder? Most people don’t even think about death until it hits close to home. But when death does come sneaking up on you, most just assume it will be the most devastating,…

The 5 Stages of Grief: Denial

Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross was a very interesting woman, and early in her career as a psychiatrist, she decided to take the unheard of approach of asking a dying patient directly about their dying. Conventional wisdom of the day was that you did not tell the person they were dying and that everyone else other…

My Loved One is Dying, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

As a hospice nurse I am frequently asked by family at the end of the day, “Should I stay or should I go?” or ” Call me if anything changes.” When a person is imminent the only change is death. The hard part is that a person can be imminent for many hours or days….

Can the Dying Hear Us?

I remember back when my dad was dying, and at this point unresponsive, to a time when our hospice nurse came to the house for a visit. We were all gathered in my father’s bedroom and watched as the nurse did her physical assessment. Being new at this point, to the whole dying experience, I…

Should You be Worried That Your Loved One is Seeing Dead People?

No. This is actually quite common among those who are actively dying. Seeing dead loved ones or other unseen beings in the room oftentimes has a calming effect on the dying person in my experience. Generally, the dying person makes comment on seeing someone not for validation, but rather to inform. I once walked into…

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Don’t be surprised if one afternoon or evening you suddenly find yourself sitting in your local ER waiting room. You’re most likely there because you took a tumble at home and injured yourself. X-rays will tell whether that ankle, wrist or ribs are fractured. Your frailty has snuck up on you. Without thinking you reach…

Can You Tell When Death is Near?

Yes. No. Maybe. While there generally are common changes that take place as death nears, being able to predict the timing is not an exact skill. The most obvious signs will be changes in breathing pattern, and skin changes called mottling. Mottling is due to the heart rate pumping less forcefully to the farther extremities,…