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Visiting a dying friend

(36 Posts)
sheila63 Wed 20-Sep-17 15:39:54

My friend of 40 years, who is in her late 60s, has found out very recently that she has very little time left. She & her husband retired and moved back to their homeland (Scotland) 3 yrs ago. I'm going to visit but as it's such a long way for me I will stay (B&B somewhere local) for a few days. I'm really apprehensive about it! I don't want to say anything trite, get overly sentimental, outstay my welcome, burst into tears - you get the idea. I know it'll be a "play it by ear" situation but I'd be grateful for some advice from those of you who have been (or are in) this situation.

kittylester Wed 20-Sep-17 15:44:09

Just be yourself and let her set the tone. She wants to see you and won't want you to be different from usual.

Serkeen Wed 20-Sep-17 15:47:16

I agree with kitty, just be yourself, when my brother in law was still at home but did not have much time to live, I used to make him laugh, in fact the last thing I said to him made him laugh, it will be fine and not half as bad as you think it will be, listen to some music that calms you an puts you in a good place, music always helps me good luck x

whitewave Wed 20-Sep-17 16:03:30

This year I lost my dearest friend. We knew for ages that her time was limited. I simply took my cue from my friend. It isn't all doom and gloom though. We had so much laughter and fun on her journey, which sounds weird but that's how it was. The last hours were unbearable, but she was past all suffering by then. You will cope, you have to for your friends sake. You will realise that it isn't about you it is about her. Don't worry.

Nanabilly Wed 20-Sep-17 16:09:27

One of my old friends was told she had not long to live and when I went to see her I just burst into tears and we cried together. I was so angry with myself but she was fine with it. I'm sure it will not really matter to her how you behave just that you have made the trip to see her.

Nonnie Wed 20-Sep-17 16:35:57

I have never been in this situation but am grieving for the loss of my son and I just want people to be themselves. I also feel the need to vent and go on and on about things. Perhaps your friend shares some of these things with me. I think you should be yourself and be led by what she wants.

Alygran Wed 20-Sep-17 16:43:59

My DH died at home last week. Friends called and chatted with him just as they always had, sharing past experiences and having a bit of a laugh. It was lovely to see. Just go and be yourself. Make sure you spend a little time with her husband too if you know him well. He will be in a sad and lonely place just now. A hug and a smile goes a long way.

Lona Wed 20-Sep-17 16:50:51

Alygran flowers I am so sorry, here's a (((hug))) and a ☺ for you. Xxx

Bluegal Wed 20-Sep-17 16:59:42

My thoughts are with you Alygran... Its a difficult time.

Am a bit mindful of the fact I seem to be posting on all sorts of different boards with first hand knowledge but sad fact is, when you get to 64, you HAVE experienced most of what life can throw at you.

Sheila: 20 years ago, MY best friend of 30 years was diagnosed with cancer at 42. I helped her through it and was there at the end too. All she wanted was for people to just be themselves - not to treat her differently - talk as they always had done. She was upset that so many people felt they couldn't visit as they didn't know what to say!

We laughed, we cried, we planned her funeral together....I let her lead in it all. I saw her wishes carried out.

Unknowing to me she wrote me a letter, which I was given after she died, and in it she thanked me for 'always being me' She said the laughing we did, was so special and she was glad she could talk openly about her funeral (cried buckets after reading it mind you)

Of course, everyone is different so yes, just be guided by your friend but don't treat her like she is any different to the person you have always known.

My thoughts are with you and your friend at this difficult time.

Luckygirl Wed 20-Sep-17 17:52:30

flowers for you Alygran.

I think it has all been said - just be yourself.

I have a friend who has had cancer for many years - they cannot remove it, but she lurches from one course of chemo/operation to another. Every time I wonder if this will be the end of the road; and we do talk a bit about this, but mostly we just chat and put the world to rights when we meet.

sheila63 Wed 20-Sep-17 17:57:49

Thank you everyone for taking the time.
Thank you Alygran for reminding me about the husband. Yes I do know him well. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss and thanks for your advice.

Eglantine21 Wed 20-Sep-17 18:15:54

I'm very sorry for your loss Alygran.

I think what you said about friends just calling and chatting is very wise. A week before he died my husband had a great time with a friend watching rugby and hurling insults at the French team! It was a relief to just spend a normal Saturday afternoon.

I hope it is a good visit for both of you, Sheila63

cornergran Thu 21-Sep-17 00:05:20

Yes, I can only agree. A good friend died last year and our last visit to him involved general chat, humour and a few traded gentle insults, all very, very 'normal'. He slept a little, we chatted to his wife and between ourselves. It didn't matter. Be yourself, trust your instincts and above all don't worry about your visit, your friend and her husband will be so appreciative of your time. It is hard, be brave it will be a good enough visit for you all.

meandashy Fri 22-Sep-17 10:21:06

I'm sure your friend would want you to behave as you would, no tiptoeing around.
If there are times during your stay she needs to be alone and rest there are some beautiful places in Scotland you can see and maybe do some thinking (or crying or screaming) depending how remote you are and how you're feeling. It really is ok for you to be sad too 💐
Alygran I'm sending you a hug 💐

MinniesMum Fri 22-Sep-17 10:21:51

I am so sorry and I well understand that sick empty feeling. I hope you can adjust and just remember all the things you have shared over the years.
My DH was in Intensive Care two weeks ago and I really thought it was the end. I held it together while I was with him but just collapsed when I left. I don't know what the ICU nurses are paid but it could never, ever, be enough. I really thought I would lose him. He is home now, weak and unable to do much but your post has brought it all back.
At our age we all know that the parting will come sooner rather than later but it is so painful.

Kim19 Fri 22-Sep-17 11:05:06

This thread has been very helpful to me as I'm treading a similar path myself. Thank you ladies and chin chin to all those who have recently suffered bereavement or have knowledge of its imminence somewhere. I keep hearing we don't discuss this dying topic enough but.....who wants to? Certainly not me. Not from fear. Just think there are more interesting things going on.

GrumpyOldBat Fri 22-Sep-17 11:10:00

Be you. The friend you have always been. A friend of mine who died recently was up front when he found out he was terminally ill. He wanted those around him to enable him to enjoy every day. He had some real joy in the last months of his life, and got every last scrap of fun out of life. He had sad and reflective moments too, but was more interested in the fun. His story of going around undertakers, 'shopping around' and haggling over his own funeral makes me smile still. He also wanted us to remember him as the irreverent old reprobate that he was, not as an 'illness on legs' (his words). Go to see your friend, laugh, cry, be silly (nothing like a bit of childish frivolity to make a day shine) and store up the good memories. We can grieve with tears, but as my mate said, 'I want people to remember me and smile'. And we do.

mags1234 Fri 22-Sep-17 11:12:27

Everyone is different. My dad didn't want anyone to know, even though it was obvious and he didn't want to talk about it. Others do. Why not give your friend a huge hug, and ask her if she wants to talk about it or not ?

Legs55 Fri 22-Sep-17 11:33:02

Take you lead from your friend & above all be yourself.

My DH was in a Nursing Home for the last few weeks of his life. He knew I visited but made little effort to interact with me. It was a different story when friends visited, he made huge efforts & loved their visits.

I am glad some-one mentioned the H, he will need comfort from you as well & may need to talk or just need a hug. I hope all goes well, I'm sure you've lots of shared memoriesflowers

NemosMum Fri 22-Sep-17 11:45:24

Alygran flowers

Good advice from Gransnetters on this thread!

Nannarose Fri 22-Sep-17 12:17:57

If you have memorabilia or photos, take them to help talk about shared memories.
Ina slightly different situation, I read a favourite book to a dying friend, and I have read poems that recall memories.
I am not musical, but my mother was helped by a young friend who sang favourite songs.

Of course, our suggestions may not be right for you & your friend - only you know. Champagne is often tolerated by those who can tolerate little else, and a few sips are unlikely to upset any medication at this stage (but of course you would check). A 1/4 or 1/2 bottle to share and toast your friendship might be just the thing.

Tears are streaming down my face as I write this, as I have done this 3 times now, for friends who have died too soon - I say 'thank you' for all you have meant to me, for all you have done, for all we have shared.

If you can, check the burden of your own grief at the door. Your friend will expect you to cry, but she will do best if you can keep to what has been good, and what you will carry into the future.

And very kind to stay in a B&B so you are not 'in the way'.

Elrel Fri 22-Sep-17 12:30:18

Nannarose - I was wondering whether OP might take photographs to remind them both of all they've shared over the years. Poems too, in her last few years a dear relative loved to join in with those she remembered from her schooldays.
OP I think your doubts about how to be will melt away once you are actually with your dear friend. 💐

GoldenAge Fri 22-Sep-17 12:45:39

Behave as your emotion dictates at the time. You may find you can't stop yourself from being emotional even though you plan for that not to happen. Your lifelong friend will understand. Celebrate your friendship and thank her for it.

Rosina Fri 22-Sep-17 13:15:25

It's probably wisest to take the lead from your friend and let her do the talking; I wish I had with my dear friend who died a couple of years ago, and in trying to be 'bright' and cheer her up I think I babbled too much. I told her that I loved her, and we parted with a kiss. I will never forget the sight of her as I turned to wave goodbye - she was looking at me, and her expression was unfathomable. She died a few days later. That last sight of her has stayed with me and I wish I had been able to say something that mattered.
I wish you a peaceful time with your dear friend and I'm sure your visit will mean a lot and be a comfort.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Fri 22-Sep-17 15:37:30

I think the advice to be yourself is spot on. My dear late husband said that he didn't want us all to be walking on eggshells just because of his diagnosis. It was a tough road but we weren't alone. Just being with friends is a great support and I'm sure you'll be a comfort despite your worries.