Chapter 2: Grieving before a medically assisted death
Knowing the date and time
The countdown of the last days and hours was the hardest. It was a series of last things.
I said to him in the last week, you have seven days and seven favourite meals, you can have whatever you want. Every day we would have a celebratory meal and enjoy our time together… he told me his life story from beginning to end.Knowing when the end would come, we knew we needed to say and do things before that time. We knew time was running out. But we knew it was also okay to cry, to not say everything or not say anything.
Many people report that having known the exact date and approximate time that the person would die is a surreal feeling. This goes beyond having general knowledge that someone is near death, and you may have struggled with this information.
Click on the arrows below to reveal feelings you may have experienced:
That the person’s dying had become more “real” or that time was speeding up
Some relief in knowing that the person’s suffering would soon end
Fixated on the calendar and counted down the days or hours until the chosen date or time
Challenged to know how to talk to other family and friends about what was happening
Unsure of what to say if someone asked, “What are you doing tomorrow?”
Pressured about what to say or do before the person died
What may help
Remember that the person didn’t choose to die; they chose to end their suffering and gain some control over their situation by selecting a date and time to die.
Look for someone who can offer you support. This might be a close friend or other family member, a faith leader, your healthcare provider, or a counsellor.