It is said that the last sensations for a dying person to go is their sense of touch and their sense of hearing.  While caring for a dying loved one, sit with them and hold their hand, caress their forehead and stroke their hair.  Their last sense to go might be their hearing so it is important for a caregiver to talk to the dying.  Even when they are unable to communicate or respond back, talk to them. Let them know about your day, tell them you love them, that you will take care of them, and that it is okay to go.

I was nine years old when my grandmother died.  My grandfather, mother, and aunts and uncles gathered together and did a lot to help take care of Grandma as she was dying.  I remember Grandma’s hospital bed set up in the living room.  I remember short sessions of me and my little sister talking to Grandma while she was in bed.   I remember my baby cousin being held over Grandma while she was in bed and my aunt telling my cousin to give her a kiss.  I vividly remember Grandma taking the 1-year old’s sloppy baby kiss and then waving him away. I wonder if my grandma was too overcome with grief – I think she knew she wouldn’t see her baby grandson grow up.  I remember when Grandma died.  My sister and I, my mother and aunt were playing Tiddly-winks on the floor of the living room while my grandma was lying on her bed.  Suddenly, my sister and I were whisked out of the room and unable to finish our game.  It wasn’t until later that I was told that Grandma had died.

As a nine year old, I didn’t understand exactly what was happening.  But looking back, I think Grandma had a comforting death.  She was surrounded by her children and grandchildren when she died.  We talked to her, gave her hugs and kisses while she lay in her hospital bed at home.  In her final moments, instead of listening to the industrial sounds of a hospital, she heard the sounds of her grandchildren playing games in the same room.  It must have been a very peaceful way to die.