Posted by: tabliope | April 14, 2009

a sunny, tuesday afternoon

Today I sat with someone as they were dying, as they died; not a close friend but someone I came to know through my volunteering. Her only family is a cousin who lives a long way away and so I, a stranger to her, shared a few of her last hours.  I've only just returned from a trip back to England and because she had been so very ill before I left Ididn't expect her to still be alive and when I called into the nursing home today it was with the expectation that I would be given news of her death.  But something had made her cling on and I think that I really do mean cling – her fingers were curled around the cotton cover of the duvet as if she were scared of falling; indeed that may be what it feels like that close to death.  I'd decided to sit for an hour with her and I talked a little even though she wasn't conscious because I understand that hearing is the last sense to go and that maybe she would be aware of words.  She said once that she liked my voice.  Then I said goodbye and got up to go and at the point something changed and I knew that it was time.  So I waited for a few more moments and the sun continued to shine and the people in the garden outside continued to talk.  I heard a match strike as someone lit a cigarette.  Only one thing changed.

Johnny is away tonight and he telephoned a few moments ago and I told him what had happened today.  He said that she had probably waited for me – maybe people do wait and I do have experience of this – but I don't think that happened here.  Of course, this would make it all about me then.  And it really is all about me because I sit with someone now as they die because I am scared to die alone.  If I sit with someone now then I can fool myself that I won't be alone either.  As if it made a difference.



  1. I understand.

  2. [this is good] You made a difference to her, I’m sure.   

  3. I’m glad you were there. For you and for her.

  4. Maybe because hearing is so internalized, such a deep feeling…maybe that’s why it’s so reluctant to go.  It’s good that you stayed with her; some part of her still had the strength to reach out and was happy that a living, sympathetic being was still there.

  5. I think it might make a difference. Good post.

  6. [this is good] I think maybe she waited for you too. She knew you were coming back, and you did.

  7. I’ve heard before that people can and do hang on for something that may seem trivial but has come to mean something to them, for whatever reason. Perhaps that’s what she did. Sounds to me like you made a difference. Good on yer.

  8. To share someone’s last moments with them is truly an honour.  I think she was equally blessed to have you there. 

  9. [this is good] My father says he feels privileged that he was at the bedside of both of his parents when they died.  I think being together for those moments is important for both people.

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