On dying alone…

On dying alone…

Life & Death Matters Post

Many years ago there was a strong sentiment that people should not die alone, should never die alone.

In the last few years, perhaps with the input from Callanan and Kelly’s book “Final Gifts” people started to consider the possibility that sometime the dying person seems to wait until everyone has gone, has left the room, and then dies when alone.

This idea has given rise to people suggesting to families that some people want to die alone.  Although possible, this too is something we do not really know. … though it is an interesting and a comforting idea.

I was interested then to read in the coverage of San Diego Hospice over the past few weeks, that their mission is founded on the beliefs that “no one should live in pain, no one should live in fear, and no one should die feeling alone.” 

There is, I think, a difference between “feeling alone” and “being alone.”  When I see family surrounding, supporting, encouraging, loving, and enjoying time with the person who is dying, there is a feeling of “being with” whether or not the loved ones are at the bedside every minute of the day and night.

“Feeling supported” can occur whether or not loved ones are physically present.


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this important distinction Kath–the difference between ‘being alone’ and ‘feeling alone’.
    I will never forget one woman’s comment to me some years ago, and while the context was much broader than end-of-life, I believe for her, it embodied an important truth. She said, “You know, there are worse things than being alone.” We then went on to explore some of those ‘worse things’.

    1. Hi Margaret,
      Great to hear from you. THanks for sharing your thoughts. Interesting how those comments can open discussion up. Hope you are well!

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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