I have two friends; their parents are (separately) dying. How to help? Neither are in U.S./U.K./CAN.
August 8, 2009 5:04 AM   Subscribe

I would like to help my friends, if I can; two of them are individually dealing with incredibly stressful and sad health-related situations related to their parents.

Friend one: I know her very well (via internet). Her father is dying, and it's end-stage, but it may take months and months. It's a terrible situation, because he's at home (as per his wish), and when he can speak, only says he wants to die. They have medical care, there's not a problem of money, but in terms of emotional pain and stress for her and her mother, it's dire. Their extended family live on another continent, and my friend's closest friends have all moved far away recently, so it's really just her and her mom dealing with this, essentially in isolation in terms of emotional support (and her mom is an expat, and I understand how this can be even more isolating and limiting). How can I help her? Are there any books that were valuable to you if you were any sort of similar situation? Is there an online forum that is high-quality, smart, helpful, warm, for people in this position? I doubt that there are support groups where she is, or much of that sort of help at all. (If you want to know what country, email or memail me, but I'm pretty sure it's not promising.)

My friend is a very smart, strong woman, career-successful in a highly sexist culture, so has an amazing amount of daily stress with her job, and must remain always calm, cool, always in control... which makes me worry about her even more, since now she has to also practice the same stoicism at home, day in and day out, and night after night. I know she can barely sleep, and there's no possibility of getting away from it. She can take time from the job, but she can't go away, and that would just leave her at home 24/7 with that special suffering.

Any advice about how to help very gratefully accepted.

Friend 2: I don't know so well, an internet acquaintance from a BB, and he might well be scamming, but I really don't think so. (2.5 years at that site* and always generous and giving as a poster; never talking about his personal/private stuff at all; never talking about money or any personal trouble at all. An on-topic friendly, helpful guy.)

His mother needs a transplant; he has most of the money, but lacks about $5,000 U.S. He appealed to the BB we both frequent, but of course the discussion was shut down. I told him to check out Modest Needs, after checking that they had "outside of U.S." and also "urgent health care" categories. But he told me that they do not extend their services to his country (India). Is there anything similar that he might look into? It just kills me that $5,000 might save his mom's life, though, yes, I realize that this is repeated a million times all over the world.

Don't worry about me, I don't have money to give away, but if there is any other sort of organization that vetts requests and makes it easy to donate (paypal), or any other options to check out, I'd like to tell him about it.

*: This BB is not metafilter or metachat; the person is not a metaverse person
posted by taz to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As for your first friend:

Are they using home hospice care? Hospice would be providing care to minimize the discomfort of her father. In addition, hospice usually has resources for family members such as counseling, support groups, and literature on dealing with end-life issues. It would be worth investigating hospice care in your friend's country.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 8:34 AM on August 8, 2009

For friend #1 - help her come up with a list of self- activities. Things that help reduce her stress, make her feel more relaxed or cheer her up. Next to each item put an estimate of how much time it should take. (There need to be lots of 5-10 minutes options as well as longer ones.) These may range from a cup of tea in the garden, a candle lit bath, a visit to a local park, massage or other physical pampering or a half day trip to a favorite place. She should very conciously choose to do at least one item on the list every day. Not only doing the activity but being aware that she deserves care is important here.

Second, she should look into options to arrange a babysitter for her father so she and her mother can go out and enjoy themselves for a little while. This would also help her connect with her mother about something more than just her father's issues.

Third, she and her mother might both benefit from regular, long chatty calls with friends and family, even if they have moved away. Since she has internet access, she can probably use skype to the cost to a minimum. Human contact and caring is helpful.

Finally, have they talked to the doctor about the father's wishes? I am thinking that her father's wish to die means that he would prefer to be made comfortable, even if it shortens his life, and his doctor should respect that.
posted by metahawk at 12:16 PM on August 8, 2009

oops - that is a list of self-care activities.
posted by metahawk at 12:21 PM on August 8, 2009

Best answer: There might be help in India, depending on which organ needs to be transplanted. Here's a quick overview of the law there. Also, the Mohan Foundation might be of some assistance. Also his mom may be able to register with Give India. If it's a kidney transplant, this news may be of interest.

I hope any of that helps!
posted by dejah420 at 12:27 PM on August 8, 2009

Friend Number 1: Just being there is enough.

When my mother died, I had people who didn't know what to say to me, and people who gave me advice that didn't apply to me. There were quiet people who wanted to listen and noisy people who wanted to take me out so my mind was off it. There were lots of people who stated simply "If there's anything I can do."

I appreciated it all. Or that is - I appreciated everyone who tried to be there for me. They all tried to help in different ways - but the important thing for me was that they tried to help.

Although - I was more fond of the people who didn't know what to say & the people who (despite knowing) said by rote "How's your week been then?" and then looked utterly mortified. I think it helps sometimes in these situations to be reminded that the world is occupied by other lost frail stupid humans.
posted by seanyboy at 1:46 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, guys! You've each been helpful!

Mountain Goatse, checking about the hospice care, but I think they have pretty much what is available for in-home care now, though I don't think it includes the support/counseling for family...

Metahawk, I think I'll try to suggest some of those things on your list; I don't think she would do it if I gave her a to-do list, but I can work some of those ideas into suggestions, so thank you!

Dejah, you are awesome.

Thank you very much seanyboy; this does help, because I do feel sort of foolish and awkward sometimes, either not being able to actually offer anything comforting or helpful, or talking about sometimes seemingly trivial things in an effort to give her something different to think about.
posted by taz at 5:21 PM on August 9, 2009

Check your meMail, taz.
posted by deborah at 1:17 PM on August 11, 2009

« Older You stored a red wine in what temperature!?!   |   C. difficile help. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.