What should I do?

chocoholicJanuary 13, 2005

I'm so glad I accidentally stumbled on this forum. Hopefully, I'll be able to receive help with my dilemma.

A friend of mine is terminally ill. When I spoke with him Christmas Eve, he said to come on by for a visit. I spoke with his wife a couple of days ago and she discouraged me from visiting saying that people who visit only stay for short periods. (I understand this as I have experience with other terminally ill friends.) I would dearly love to visit him, even if for a few minutes. (The drive would take over an hour.)

The only way to visit or speak with him to have his wife coordinate things. A mutual friend said it took about 12 or so calls before he received a return call.

Should I continue to press for a visit? Drop it and just hope that perhaps I'll be able to speak with him?

Time is of the essence; when he was diagnosed, he believed things would come to a close mid-January and here we are...

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I think I would explain to his wife that he asked you to come by. It may change her thoughts. But she may know that he is not up to visits for some reason. He is likely in the process of closing out his social contacts. Your need to see him and his need to see you may not be the same. One has to decide whose need one is meeting. Failing that, perhaps you could write him a note telling him what his friendship has meant to you.
It is a tough spot to be in. Derry

    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 9:58PM
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When our adult son was terminally ill, we had to discourage visitors. This was extremely hard to do but it was the best for our son at that time. We had one person who continued to call and insist on visiting after he was told that it was not a good idea. This person's constant calling and insisting on visiting made me dislike this person. In fact, I still dislike this person.

I would suggest that you not continue to call the wife. This will only add stress to her already stressful life.

You might want to send a card with a special handwritten message from you. Cards meant a lot to our son. We read each card to him. If this person is a good friend, you might want to send him a card every week or two.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 10:24PM
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You're right about closing out his social contacts. Another mutual friend has said he has been mending some hard feelings he's had with others (and vice versa). He and I, on the other hand, have no hard feelings as our relationship is based on mutual respect. Perhaps I just need to accept the fact that he needs to do what he needs to do and hope that one day, we'll be able to have conversations again.

His wife mentioned that this is happening for a reason and that everyone one who is impacted by it will grow because of it.

Your suggestion of writing him a note is a good one. I now hope I can find the courage to do so.

Thank you for your response. It's helped me tremendously.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 10:33PM
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Maybe you could also write his wife a note and tell her that you respect her feelings and want to do what is best for your friend. Tell her that if and when she feels that a visit from you would be okay, or even for you to talk to him on the phone to please let you know immediately. I would mention in your friend's card that you would like to see him if and when he feels up to it.
I'm so sorry about your good friend being so sick.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 12:30AM
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Chocoholic - I have never been in the wife's shoes so I can't imagine what she must be dealing with right now. I think Lu's idea to also write a note to the wife is a wonderful idea. I remember when my husband had major surgery years and years ago one of his friends called and after she asked how he was she asked me how I was doing. I almost cried - I had so much going on in my head and she was the first to ask about ME. The wife may need that now, too. And if she is acting as the caregiver right now she maybe could use some help - maybe offer to take a day to do grocery shopping for her or fix a couple of casseroles to take to her. This may sound like bribery but it really isn't - after all, wouldn't your friend like to know that people are trying to take care of his wife so she can care for him? So, in an indirect way you are doing something for your friend. I think Suzy might know better than I do if this would be helpful since she has been through a similar situation. I hope everything works out for you whether it be getting the visit or just coming to terms with things the way they are.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 6:54AM
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Hi All~

Well, I did it. I wrote a thank you note for what I consider "gifts" he gave me...all the priceless, intangible gifts. I wasn't sure I could do it but after the feedback I've received from everyone, I somehow found the courage and managed to do it...something I haven't been able to do until now.

suzy_sc: you're right about his wife being under a lot of stress. When I spoke with her, I asked how she was doing and if I could be of help. She did mention that he recently stopped fighting her about taking his seizure meds so I know it hasn't been easy for her. She's even under the stress of having someone help with pulling his financial records of the pc for tax purposes since he can no longer operate the pc. (He's always been technologically ahead of the times and his wife won't come near a pc!)

His wife mentioned that he has a "window" in the morning when he's good. I've come to realize I may have been selfish by making my need to visit him a priority. Afterall, if he only has a small window and people are always visiting, albeit for short periods, when does she get to spend quality time with him?

I'm running out to buy cards for both of them as soon as I post this message.

Thanks all for your support. I am coming to terms with the way things are (and am dealing with it much better) because of all of you.

My best to you all...


    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 4:22PM
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Good for you! You sound like an awesome friend and I'm sure they both appreciate you very much. Hang in there.
- Leogirl

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 5:41PM
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What a perfect way to handle this. I'm sure your note, the conversation you had with your friend's wife and the cards you will send will all mean the world to both of them at this difficult time. Perfect way to show your love and appreciation without pressure. Hugs to you. I wish you all peace.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 6:10PM
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Thank you everyone for your support and generous words. Your kind, compassionate, and thoughtful resposes make me feel as if we've been friends for a long time. Best to all~

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 9:48PM
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Chocoholic, I think you did the right thing in getting each of them a card.

Our son was sick (homebound) for three months before his death. His father and I were his primary caregivers. I felt like I was living in a tornado. My every minute was spent trying to do or think of something to do to make our son happy and comfortable. We had help but I never left him except to take a shower and change clothes. I lost 25 pounds. Many of our friends sent cards just for my husband and me. I remember how much those cards meant to us. I would always cry when we read the cards.

Another thing that always touched my heart was when someone would bring or send us food. That was a lifesaver for us because I didn't cook for over three months. I think you said your friend lived an hour's drive from you. You might think about having a restaurant deliver a meal to them.

You sound like a wonderful person. Your friend and his wife are fortunate to have a friend like you. Stay in their lives and let them know you care....if only by cards.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 11:48PM
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I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. Since we don't have children, I can only imagine the pain of losing a child, no matter how old.

Thank you for your kind words. My friend and his wife live on somewhat of a ranch and her brother and his family also have a house there. She did mention that people have been bringing food over so she's well taken care of. However, I do like your idea of having a restaurant deliver some food. I'm thinking that this may be a good thing to do after everything is resolved. (I guess you can tell I have a hard time using the word "death.")

Today I learned that he now figures he's about 90% blind. So along with the seizures, loss of sight, and other physical impairments caused by the brain tumor, things have changed drastically since Christmas Eve. I'm at the point where I'm just grateful for the friendship and feel that good friendships see you through the end - even without having to be physically present.

Thanks again for your support and wisdom that comes only from having been through the painful experience yourself.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 5:03AM
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My husband recently passed away from a brain tumor at 35 yrs. It was very difficult at the end. We had so many people calling asking to visit. I tried my best to accomodate as many visitors as possible - but it got too difficult in the end. It took too much out of my husband - even when he was bed ridden. We had the same problems re: the seizure meds, his sight, speech, etc. I can also tell you that he deteriorated VERY rapidly. Someone would see him or talk to him on the phone one week and the next he was so much worse that I don't think one could imagine how quickly he went downhill.

I agree about the cards. Some of my husband's best friends wrote him daily. He really enjoyed it when I read him the cards. I would pick a time when I knew he was up to hearing them. It worked best for us.

So sorry your friend has to endure this. It is a horrific disease!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 7:57AM
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Chocoholic - I'm so sorry you are losing your friend. And what a friend you are - to be so thoughtful and putting him and his wife's needs and feelings first. I only wish my own family had been that way before my dad died. My sister insisted on bringing her own grown children to see my dad against his wishes as he lay on his deathbed. Hence the rift that continues to exist today. Why can't others put the needs of their LOVED ONE FIRST! I admire you putting his needs first. They will treasure your cards and you love. I wish you the peace in the coming weeks.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 10:16AM
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You're so right about the rapid deterioration. Because people from the hospice are visiting daily, I imagine they know his time is short. Our mutual friend (and his protege) last told me that death would be a blessing since it would end his suffering. I'm so sorry you had to go through such a painful experience. Thanks for sharing it with me.

It's almost as if I've read the last chapter of a book first and know the outcome but don't know when I'll get to read the preceeding chapters.

Thank you all for your support, encouragement, and wise advice. It'll help get me through the next several weeks.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 4:14AM
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reading this gave me a new perspective on an experience i had many years ago. our dear neighbor was very ill in the hospital and i wanted to go see him but was told by the family that he was just too sick to see anyone. so i respected the family and did not go to see him. he died in the hospital and at the funeral and after, i heard many friends discussing how they had been to see him and how he looked etc. i remember feeling very resentful about this. its not like they asked the family and the family told them to go and told me not to. its more like people he had worked with etc, just 'stopped by". but i remember thinking for a very long time that i should have just gone and poked my head in the door. the family is dear friends of mine and they even understood how i felt bad about not seeing him. but i guess that if someone is really that sick the family does know best.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 3:56PM
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I think sending notes would be wonderful for both of them. I imagine she will be reading them to him so I suggest you remind him how lucky he is to have someone like her, etc. This will remind him of his love for her and it will show her how much you respect her. And when your friend smiles at the thought of how fortunate he is, she will see that smile and feel the love he has for her. A gift for both of them. You are a good friend.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 8:49PM
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My mother died from a brain tumor in September. I can tell you, as shoregirl mentioned, visitors can take a lot out of a patient. The ill patient often is too weak to converse, and the cacophony of conversation can be disturbing to him/her. I finally brought one of my elderly friends to see Mom, after her nagging me for weeks, and Mom was not having a good day. She was practically catatonic. I know this woman was shocked -- I think she had expected to see Mom as she remembered her, only in a slightly weakened state.

Plus, the patient may not want others to see him/her in the diminished state they are in. They still have their dignity.

Also, I -- quite frankly and perhaps selfishly -- did not want to share my mother with others during the limited time I had with her. So please respect the wishes of the family when they ask for no visitors. Know that they TRULY appreciate your love and concern, and any other sort of gesture (cards, brief telephone calls) would be warmly and gratefully appreciated. Please don't take it personally if they do not call back. I had friends who would call and then call again and then call AGAIN the next day when I hadn't returned the call. I would come home from the nursing home each night absolutely drained (worked a full day, then would go to visit Mom). I appreciated the concern, but returning calls became one more thing on my "to do" list.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 9:55AM
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