Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On death and dying; a good death

I have written some about having A good death. Sometimes it means advocating for loved ones.
However, in the event of an unexpected incident, before EMS gets there, what can a stranger do? (We don't call them accidents, as they can be prevented.)

Our First Responders are there to help. They are trained to calm, provide care, and do what they can. It occurred to me that many arrive upon a scene not knowing the victims, and providing assistance when they can.

It is possible, whether death is anticipated or whether it happens. Stories abound of those dying at the scene of an accident. Of course, many are not accidents, but incidents in which safety is disrespected, or the laws of the road are put aside in favour of speed, unsafe driving conditions, alcohol abuse, or passing, distractions of technology and the like.

One article I read, about a young man who died...
According to the Almaguin Highlands OPP, Clement was driving a Mazda pickup truck northbound on Hwy. 11 near South River at roughly 6:45 p.m. He had just entered the four-lane portion of the highway when the vehicle lost control on the icy roadway and rolled over several times. The truck landed in the median ditch between the northbound and southbound lanes.

In the case of a sudden death - there are a few who manage to make a difference. This woman did.

A semi-anonymous commenter wrote under the article about the dead 19-year old:

A small piece of comfort in this sad time

I am writing this letter to let you know that I was one of the individuals that had stopped at the accident. I am 42 years old and a mom myself. I feel strongly that everyone needs to know he was not alone. 
Myself and two other young men were with him until the emergency crew got there. There was a sense of peace and that I feel that Kris knew that help was on its way. I reached down and grabbed his hand to try and show him the love and care that his family would want him to know. He held my hand tight and you knew he felt comfort, I cannot explain it. 

He was not able to talk well but was able to get out tell my family, 'I love them.' It was not clear but you knew. Myself and the other young men tried the best we could do provide comfort to him. I remember there was a young man about the same age as Kris and he was fantastic - he wanted to help so much. If it gets forgotten, thank you Gabe. You are in my thoughts. I wish the family all the best and shed a tear for your loss. I hope in someway the family gets some comfort.
This motorhome creamed the car.
Perth police approaches.

What can one do, when faced with death? This woman did all she could. I am sure she was working on instinct. In the shock of the moment, one takes a deep breath and can be a rock and a pillow. As a mother, she did what she knew another mother would want for a child. Of course, one needs be positive, but those who are dying seem to know the truth of the situation. In some cases, with long-term illness, family may experience denial, and rather than beging the grieving process, pregrieving, they believe that a bit of breakfast or something else will make the patient better.

In my hospice work, I often see requests for those to give respite to family members sitting with dying loved ones. It is hard work that affects the mind, body and soul. Some loved ones prefer to die after you have left, and may send you away. This was the case for my mom. I slept overnight in my dad's long-term care home and he passed away shortly after I fell asleep.

What can you do?
There are many things one can do and say.
  • Your presence is sometimes all that is needed.
  • Holding a hand.
  • Touching an arm or a shoulder.
  • Asking if there is something they want their family to know: 'You love them!', will miss them, will watch over them.

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