How can I support my dying sister?

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Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 15/04/2011 - 6:34pm
How can I support my dying sister?

I have a sister whom I love with all my heart. She is 66 and has end stage congestive heart failure and COPD. She has a bacterial infection called endocarditis of the aorta and defibrillator wire going to heart. Her whole functional is 20% of heart on a good day and her lungs are 50% in one lung, 20% in the other. Overall, she is terminal. How do I handle this? How does she handle it? I just don't know how I can I comfort her. She is scared but strong in faith, as am I, and we are praying hard. But what else can I do?She is my big sister whom I love like my mum. I am not sure what her wishes are, but her husband does. But I am talking about what she wants before she passes. Please advise me on how to handle this and make her comfortable. Thank you.

Last seen: 5 years 4 months ago
Joined: 10/10/2014 - 9:26pm
Supporting your dying sister

I share your sorrow and pain. I lost my oldest sister to esophageal cancer in 2003. In my experience, most dying people want two things, and she is probably no different. She wants to know that you love her and will support her needs as she dies, and to know that you and all her loved ones will be okay after she's gone. When my husband was dying, in 1999, he turned to me one day and said just that--I want to know if you are going to be okay. I told him I would never ever be okay that he was gone, but that,yes, I would be okay. I told him I would never stop loving him, but I would be able to carry on with the help of my son, my family, my friends, and my job. I encourage you to take the role of frank confidante. Sit with her and encourage her to talk. Talk about her life, her family, her fears, her understanding of the situation, and listen to what she says without interruption or contradiction. She probably knows more than you realize about how few days she has left, and how hard it will be on all of you when she goes. She would probably love to be able to talk about it with her husband, but she may implicitly avoid that because she fears it will be too hard for him. Being so close to her, you have her trust, and you can provide this service to her in a way that few others can. Bear witness to the fundamental inevitability of the moment and help her see how dying is the fulfillment of life. Use your own strength to help her face the end calmly.

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Esther Stone
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