Many hospice organizations distribute the blue booklet “Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience” by Barbara Karnes, a hospice nurse. (You can order a copy online from gonefrommysight.com.) It’s a terrific booklet. Barbara notes that “When you are at the bedside of a loved one who is dying, you don’t really see what’s happening.” The blue booklet is all about what we don’t really see.
When speaking with local support group members, I often refer to sleeping 22-plus hours a day as a sign that death is getting closer. And I note that family members who are dying often start to withdraw from the ones they are closest to.
One conversation I have had many times with local support group members is the anxiety and terror they feel when their family member stops eating or drinking. People worry about the pain associated with “starving to death.”
This topic of “starving to death” is addressed head-on by author Barbara Karnes in a presentation on March 2011 to hospice workers with Heartland Hospice. The 90-minute presentation was recorded and edited; it aired on Community Television of Santa Cruz County. It used to be available on YouTube. It was one of the best resources I can think of for helping families prepare for the dying experience of their loved ones.
Barbara shares that she will never say to a dying person “It’s OK to let go.” She says: “I understand you have to go.”
Barbara believes that “dying is really the last act of living or the final challenge of living.”
I took extensive notes from the 90-minute presentation and shared this with many hundreds of people over the years. In early 2019, the Barbara Karnes folks have asked me to remove those extensive notes from this blog post as they are generally Barbara’s words. And the YouTube link is no longer working so we can no longer direct you there.
If you are proficient in the web archive, you can still find the old blog post.
And there are probably some good substitutes available on YouTube or on the Barbara Karnes website.