Witnessing Death

elprincipeoso

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#1
Not sure why I'm posting this, I'm shell shocked from the experience.

My Nan died yesterday after battling a brain tumour and breast cancer. My mum was on holiday so could not be with her so I got the call and went down to the care home. I sat with her as she was going. My brother arrived 15 minutes before she passed and we flanked her as she stopped breathing, sighed and departed.

I've never witnessed someone dying before, and I still can't find the words to describe the feeling between the moments when she was in the room with us and when she went. I'd never been able to pinpoint the possible duality of existence before, but since experiencing this I am in no doubt that it was her soul or spirit or whatever that departed. Her body just immediately seemed different - like it was no longer her.

I've been a bit jumpy since and feel like I'm in another world, most likely shock and grief. But also, my attention is wandering onto obscure examples of aesthetic beauty, like last night as I walked the dog I noticed the pearlescent reflection of the neon Indian restaurant sign opposite my house on the side of my car and found myself staring at it for a good few minutes, then noticed a number of white feathers on my windscreen.

Anyway - thanks for hearing me out.
 

Iris

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#5
I've found when they go it's like a light flickering out and what is left is sort of like a shell. It's a bit like a butterfly that leaves it's pupa behind.
Of course it doesn't stop you missing them so much and I hope that you feel better about your Nan soon.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#6
It is said that witnessing death or at least seeing the body is an important stage of the grieving process. Avoiding it, as many do for a variety of reasons, can delay the healing.

I was present when my mother died and missed the passing of my father by ten minutes. I think we begin the grieving when we hear the prognosis of a serious illness; death is a relaxation of that tension as all our worst imaginings have usually not come to pass.

My thoughts are with you at this awful time but the heightened awareness you describe so beautifully seems a very healthy response to the sad event. RIP.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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#7
I've never seen the dead body of anyone I've been close to (I saw a schoolmate die, but that was in front of a big crowd) and I don't think I've suffered any negative consequences.

Although I think I've always refused to 'see the body' as I'm scared that it may become the image I remember of that person permanently.
 

Amoradala

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#9
I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I also witnessed the death of my nan.

I think when a person is alive there are alot of movements in the face and body so small we don't notice them, when they stop it gives the body an unearthly stillness.

This video is an interesting demo of micro movements

 

GingerTabby

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#13
yeah, now you mention it, it is the stillness of it all. The lack of breathing is the most alarming stillness. Both my brother and i kept thinking we saw her chest rising for some 40 mins after which it most definitely was not. I think you're so used to seeing that, you know?
My condolences on your Nan's passing, elprincipeoso. Take care of yourself.

I was with my partner when he died of a brain tumour in 2012. Your experience sounds similar to mine. The moment when the soul departed the body was striking but also peaceful. I had feared it would be both painful and dramatic. I too noticed the stillness that followed the moment of death. I've been told by health professionals that air continues to exit the lungs for a while after death, so you and your brother may indeed have witnessed that.

I hope your memories of your Nan will be a comfort to you and your family as you grieve.
 

Coastaljames

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#15
I think we're a little conditioned into thinking a dead person is pretty much like a sleeping person. But they're really not are they. I guess there is no such thing as a dead person because, quite simply, the person is no longer there. What's left is a shell. A vessel. Inanimate.

I lived surrounded by the dead for about 4 weeks. It's a very odd experience.


Elprincipeoso- lots of love and sympathy to you and your family. I think your beloved Nan is now free from the horrible degradation and suffering that her corporeal body brought her. Now she can fly free.
 

ChrisBoardman

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#16
My nan died of cancer in 1991, my parents didn't tell me about her condition until I had finished my university exams. So I witnessed her slide into unconsciousness over 2 weeks and then saw her dead body 2 hours after she died.

It would be much more weird to witness an unexpected death. I found the body of a dead housemate in 2010, but he was 58, drank 2 bottles of wine a night and had a heart attack.
 

plastic wiganer

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#17
firstly may i offer you my condolences on your loss, my dad suddenly passed away just before christmas last year, he was 71 and fit as a fiddle. he had been ill earlier in the year but made a seemingly full recovery. we got a phone call off my mum at 6.30 am on the sunday morning and by the time we had driven the 30 or so miles to the hospital where he'd been rushed into, he was gone.
it is one of those moments i will never forget, seeing him lying there eyes and mouth slightly open, and i swear i was waiting for him to sit up and shout boo or something similar. But no he didnt.
what made it worse for us at least was that over the christmas/new year period we had to wait for the coroner to do his "business" in early january, all the time he was just laying THERE. a horrible experience that i wouldnt wish upon anybody. it turned out that he had a condition called diverticulitis, which none of us - him also - knew nothing of (or at least he never let on)
As they say it does get easier, and at the moment we are all trying to keep my mum going (she had a heart attack in february from the stress of it all - shes getting there now thankfully)
Im starting to 'well up' now so sorry for going on, and although we will never meet i wish you all the best.
 

Mouldy13

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#19
I sat with both my father in law and my mother when they went. both remarkably similar experiences in that to be honest it was a bit of a relief when they finally went. certainly in my mother's case where all the family present agreed that it was an end to her suffering.

My condolences to everyone above who has sat through similar experiences.
 

elprincipeoso

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#21
:grouphug: ... that's how we roll elprincipeoso X ( apart from the occasional prick) ..
It certainly is Swifty :)

Bit of an update for you all:

I spoke to my brother last night and he mentioned to me that since our experience he has begun hearing my Nan's voice in his head, offering him support and advice on other troubles he is facing. He has begun having two way conversations with her in his head and has found this to be both cathartic and also very valuable - as a consequence of one of these conversations he took a different approach to a diplomatic issue he was faced with and resolved it after months of banging his head against the wall.

So last night as I was brushing my teeth i heard my Nan's voice in my head. She was asking if she could talk to me.
I said "yeah, sure" and went to bed. I dreamt that I was in my mum and dad's old garden (where I grew up) and was walking with my two children, my Mum and my Nan. In the dream my Nan was not much older than I am now, about 40 odd, and she was wearing a lime green two piece suit and her hair was shocking brown. I have never seen this image of her previously. I was aware in the dream that she was dead, and there was a tacit understanding that my mum knew this too. Again, my Nan asked me if we could talk. I replied "yeah, sure" again. Then my daughter (in the corporeal world) woke me up as she had misplaced her cuddly dog. I went to the bathroom after finding dog-dog, and felt entirely sure that this was a spiritual communication, and not just a figment of my unconscious mind.

If I can refer to one of my previous posts about the value of direct communication as opposed to contrived manipulation, the effect this can have upon both the recipient of such communication and the effectiveness of this method as a way of achieving personal growth and protecting yourself from energy vampires, I can confirm that right now, I cannot do anything but be direct - and it was this approach that helped my brother and seems to be helping me in my professional life.

I feel blessed and honoured by many things right now.
 

paranoid420

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#23
Sorry to hear the sad news elprincipeoso.

It is said that witnessing death or at least seeing the body is an important stage of the grieving process. Avoiding it, as many do for a variety of reasons, can delay the healing.

.
I have met a few young people who did everything they could to avoid funerals and death, totally unhealthy. What ends up happening is the first funeral they ever go to is their parents and they are totally destroyed. All through human history every single culture on the planet has had a grieving process and some sort of rites. If you told a villager in the 3rd world you had never encountered death they wouldn't believe you.
 

Amoradala

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#24
My dad died very suddenly and I grieved terribly in the days and weeks after.

I remember thinking that with most (if not all other of lifes trials) there is always some remedy or action that can be taken. There are letters that can be written, second opinions, apologies, confrontation, begging etc, but with death there is no recourse.
There is nothing anyone can do to change what has happened, and I think my unconsious reeled and fought against this.

I had dreams he was in another room and was trapped, I saw him on the street and he didn't recognise me, that it was all a big mistake. These dreams were not comforting, it was painful to wake covered in sweat to realise he wasn't still alive after all, and begin grieving once again.

king Lear looks at his dead daughter and contemplates the absolute finality of death - never . . . never . . . never . . . never . . . never. Repeated five times. Lines hard for an actor not familiar with grief to understand. But those who have experienced grief understand the depth and despair of those words.

In retrospect my grief affected my work and relationships in those weeks and months. I should have, (as I have done now ) sought medical help to make the process easier. Please look after yourself and your brother.
 

escargot

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#29
My dad died very suddenly and I grieved terribly in the days and weeks after.

I remember thinking that with most (if not all other of lifes trials) there is always some remedy or action that can be taken. There are letters that can be written, second opinions, apologies, confrontation, begging etc, but with death there is no recourse.
There is nothing anyone can do to change what has happened, and I think my unconsious reeled and fought against this.

I had dreams he was in another room and was trapped, I saw him on the street and he didn't recognise me, that it was all a big mistake. These dreams were not comforting, it was painful to wake covered in sweat to realise he wasn't still alive after all, and begin grieving once again.

king Lear looks at his dead daughter and contemplates the absolute finality of death - never . . . never . . . never . . . never . . . never. Repeated five times. Lines hard for an actor not familiar with grief to understand. But those who have experienced grief understand the depth and despair of those words.

In retrospect my grief affected my work and relationships in those weeks and months. I should have, (as I have done now ) sought medical help to make the process easier. Please look after yourself and your brother.
I'm sorry you lost your Dad.

We have a couple of threads on dreaming of the dead which may interest you.
I see the dreams as a way for my poor, poor heart to make sense of an awful tragedy.
 

The_Discordian

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#30
Witnessing death is a very strange experience indeed.

A close friend of mine died in front of me, suddenly, about 13 years ago. He had severe abdominal pains out of the blue, I called an ambulance, and he was dead by the time they got there. It turned out his appendix had ruptured. He was 35.

Obviously it was very distressing, but it was somewhat surreal as well. I remember going out for a smoke while the paramedics were dealing with his body and reflecting that whatever had been in his driver's seat - soul, spark of life, whatever you want to call it - had just been snuffed out, and all his memories and experiences with it, but at least he hadn't died alone. I know it doesn't matter when you're gone, but I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

When my dad died, it was expected, and my mum and my brother were with him, but I left beforehand. It might seem callous, but I'd been through that once, and I really couldn't cope with doing it again.
 
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