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Should I visit terminally ill friend who has just moved to a hospice?

(73 Posts)
crystaltipps Sat 27-Apr-19 06:45:03

I have a long standing friend, an ex colleague I worked with for many years, we have met up over the years , together with another ex colleague friend, regularly for lunches, trips out etc. Just after our last meeting we received an email from her saying she had been diagnosed with a nasty form of cancer and was starting various treatments - radiotherapy, chemo etc. For a while we have kept in touch with chatty upbeat emails about how her treatment was going , but with lots of everyday chat as well. She said she wasn’t able to face the world yet, but would let us know when she felt up for lunching. Then last week we received an email from her husband saying she was in hospital with an infection. Reading between the lines it sounded worrying. The next day we got an email again from her husband, saying she could have no further treatment and had been moved to a local hospice and sent her love. I emailed straight back saying how sad I was and could he let me know if it would be ok to visit, but I would totally understand if she just wanted the family there ( she has 2 AC who have young families). I have had no reply as yet. Do you think we ( our mutual friend and me) should just wait for an email or just go to the hospice and ask the staff to ask the family if we could see her? The hospice is very close by so not a long journey. We would understand if she is too unwell or the family say no. What would you do? Should we just wait for an email, or try to visit our friend for probably the last time?

4allweknow Sun 28-Apr-19 10:40:58

I lost mt daughter to cancer only 9 days ago, her stay in a hospice was 2 weeks. No way would my daughter have wanted anyone just turning up and asking if she could be visited. That would put a lot of pressure in her to say yes and guilt if no. You can phone the Hospice, ask about visiting but they will probably have a list if expected visitors and if not on it will be refused. Hospice will pass on any messages. Very delicate situation and if friend's husband doesn't respond he may well be distraught dealing with situation. He will contact when able to.

trisher Sun 28-Apr-19 10:42:21

I agree about contacting the hospice and not stressing the DH. As well, it may be that she will not die in the hospice. A number of people go in for care whilst pain meds etc are sorted but prefer to die in their own homes. If this is the case DH will be very busy sorting things and both might prefer a visit then. I hope you are able to sort things out and say a proper goodbye to her.

Grandyma Sun 28-Apr-19 10:52:12

Please don’t do any more than you have already. If the family want you to visit they will ask. Please don’t put anyone in the position of feeling obliged to allow you to visit. I speak from experience. Just let her be now. Sending love at a difficult time flowers

Rosina Sun 28-Apr-19 11:02:01

Could you perhaps send her a card with a loving message, not mentioning visiting, and perhaps if she does want to see you she will tell her husband and he can let you know? This is such a difficult time; I do sympathise as it is hard to know what to do. Maybe also let her husband know that you have sent her a card/message so that he knows you have been in touch with her. I wouldn't mention calling in at all - from bitter experience, having lost my closest friend a few years ago, this can be such a draining and almost impossible time for families to deal with.

JanaNana Sun 28-Apr-19 11:02:17

Definately phone the hospice first, she may simply not want visitors apart from her immediate family even if she is feeling a bit better physically. This is a very emotional time for them.

NanaAnnie Sun 28-Apr-19 11:23:35

Your friend may not be able to acknowledge you're even there if she is on heavy pain meds. My bestie saw everyone up until the last two weeks of her life in the hospice then orders were issued from her ex-husband not to visit anymore because she didn't want her friends to see her the way the disease (pancreatic cancer) had ravaged her body. She was also heavily medicated so wouldn't have known if we were there or not. It was very,very hard to respect those wishes but we did and then at the funeral, said our last goodbyes. I regularly visit her grave.

Madmeg Sun 28-Apr-19 11:24:00

Having sadly experienced the deaths of several friends/relatives in hospices my view is that whatever your own feelings and needs do not contact the husband and do not ask to visit. If the end is very close (and I guess it is days, not weeks) she will likely be heavily sedated and the family distressed. The weekend makes no difference when a relative is dying, nor does day or night.

You won't be the only friends wanting to visit or ask how she is and people can't cope with that.

The card is the best thing -if she is conscious someone will read it to her. Do no more but keep your fingers crossed that the infection does not take hold as they clearly fear it will.

So sorry for you.

Sparklefizz Sun 28-Apr-19 11:51:29

4allweknow My heart goes out to you flowers. So sorry.

ReadyMeals Sun 28-Apr-19 12:05:18

Wait for the email. Usually by the time someone is in the hospice (as an unplanned admission) they are very ill indeed and she could well in in her last days or even hours already. Especially if an infection has taken hold. So as long as you are pretty sure the email will have been received, don't chase it up.

grandtanteJE65 Sun 28-Apr-19 12:10:03

Phone the hospice and ask whether she would like a visit from you or is only seeing family.

If she doesn't want visitors, you will need to respect that.

Alternately, you could phone her husband and ask him to ask her if she would like to see you. And do ask him if there is anything you can do to help him.

susanstroud Sun 28-Apr-19 12:17:58

I work for hospice. Hospice means 6 months of less to spend. If they are doing fairly well, it is really nice to see them. If looks like they might go any minute, I think only immediate family or very very close friends are welcome. It is up to the patient.

polnan Sun 28-Apr-19 12:18:42

I have read what everyone has said here. and agree with most.. you seem to have decided now... so I will just pray for you all, especially your friend,, Life is very hard, unbearable at times...

Pat1949 Sun 28-Apr-19 12:23:05

Since you asked if it was ok to visit, I think it would be better to wait for a reply.

Nona4ever Sun 28-Apr-19 12:25:50

I really feel that you should wait to hear from her DH. He is the only one, at this stage, who should give his blessing to a visit. When my DP’s late wife was dying she was emphatic that she only wanted her husband and children to see her. One of her ‘friends’ refused to accept this and barged into the house. She was thinking only of herself - pre-empting any potential guilt trips she might have felt had she not been able to say goodbye. She caused so much distress. Please wait to be invited to see your friend, OP.

DS64till Sun 28-Apr-19 12:34:39

I would pop down to Hospice reception with some flowers. If your Friend isn’t up for visitors I’m sure they will check with her , and she will also know u tried. I know how difficult this all is as I lost my Best friend just over a year ago. She knew she was going to a hospice eventually but I asked her whilst she was well enough and she told me that she wanted visitors.

PamGeo Sun 28-Apr-19 14:03:31

In my experience of working in a hospice for several years I think a card with your number on would be ideal. I can imagine your friends husband will have family and friends trying to contact him via the phone and hopefully he will have allocated someone as a first point of contact so that he can concentrate on their needs and time together. She may even return home if she is having symptom control treatment and prefer to see you then , maybe not but I'm sure you would want to respect her choices at this time in her life. It's a very sad time for yourself and your friends family and I hope you do have a moment to say your goodbyes

Aepgirl Sun 28-Apr-19 14:20:04

Definitely phone first, and don’t stay too long - several short visits are better than one long one. On a positive note, hospices are not gloomy places. They certainly make the best of life.

Day6 Sun 28-Apr-19 14:21:42

How sad crystaltipps. I am sorry to hear about your friend.

I think I might be tempted to take flowers and a card to the hospice and ask staff to give them to your friend. Family might just welcome someone else to sit by her bedside for a few minutes. If it's a bad time and they are distressed, just your flowers appearing would be a gift of love. Before going in the staff could check with family, and a 'no' response would be OK. Your friend would have your flowers and card nearby and know you cared, even if she wasn't up to seeing visitors.

I'd make it quite clear to the staff from the start that you were perfectly OK with just dropping off flowers and leaving immediately, without seeing your friend. They would be able to judge the moment I expect.

You perhaps wouldn't feel so helpless. It is a very difficult situation and respect for the family at this time is important.

(I know in times of troubles that very dear fiends have left cards, flowers and even food parcels and casseroles in the porch, without even ringing the bell. The fact they'd cared meant so much to me afterwards, when the fog of grief had lifted.)

Day6 Sun 28-Apr-19 14:27:50

4allweknow how awful for you. Much sympathy flowers

Mossfarr Sun 28-Apr-19 14:33:42

I have lost a few friends to cancer and I visited all of them in their last days. It was very difficult to see my friends like that and not get upset but they all said that my visits, reminiscing and having a bit of a laugh was very welcome. When you are so ill it is often a relief to have a conversation about anything else but the illness.
I would definitely ask the hospice staff, they will know the persons wishes better than anyone else. Often the dying person will not share their thoughts with their loved ones as they find it too difficult to cope with their grief.

GoldenAge Sun 28-Apr-19 15:03:22

Please do NOT visit your friend in the hospice without her expressed consent - as a Bereavement counsellor at Hospice I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that by the time people have moved into hospice care they are pretty poorly and it is a huge intrusion for anyone except who the person actually wants to visit - you have asked her husband and if you don’t hear from him you can ring the hospice nurses to ask them to ask her if you can pop in for a few minutes - her hubby may get her permission but not pass it on because he wants all available time left for himself so go through him first and then through the nurses - if the nurses say your friend doesn’t want to see you then you must believe that she’s too frail to want that and she wants you to remember her differently and. It how she looks now.

123kitty Sun 28-Apr-19 15:47:27

Please just wait for a response to the email to your friend's husband. It's what your friend wants or needs at the moment that matters.

knspol Sun 28-Apr-19 17:03:52

Await a reply from her husband, it's not his priority at the moment to answer emails quickly. Don't visit without his say so but send a card and maybe some flowers from you and your friend so she knows you are thinking of her.

notanan2 Sun 28-Apr-19 17:14:38

Since they have been chosing email to communicate this far I would assume that they HAVE read your email and would leave them to it until you hear otherwise

The hospice really should not give you any "news" as you are not family.

Dont hand deliver to the hospice, post it instead.

Im afraid you will have to wait on the side lines

Follow up with an email NOT mentioning your desire to visit simply saying "thinking of you all"

Dont put your need to visit above their needs right now.

notanan2 Sun 28-Apr-19 17:20:27

Being at a death is in a lot of ways like being at a birth. It is a privilidge and a deeply intimate/personal time.

Just like a birth, the calm anx "peacefulness" of a death can easily be disrupted with uninvited intrusions.

And like birthing, dying is exhausting. Visitors can drain and distress if they arent the people you feel able to be vulnerable with.

There will be plenty of oportunity to offer support to the family later.

For now, its invite only. Dont put any pressure on then to do so