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how much longer can this go on?


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My father in law has taken a turn. He stopped treatment for recurrent lung cancer stage IV in 5/08...started hospice in 7/08..he remained stable until 2-1/2 weeks ago. Suddenly, he became weak, stopped eating solid food, and is bedridden. He sips on juice and water, drinks one Ensure, and sleeps about 20 hours per day. The hospice doctor made a visit on Friday and said that basically he's going to waste away since he needs all the energy he has just to breathe. His body is making the decision to breathe or digest...and breathing is it. That's why he has no appetite and the thought of solid food is repulsive to him. He's down to 110 lbs and it's simply heartbreaking to see him like this. The doctor is reluctant to give us any idea how much time he has. Any thoughts on this subject are appreciated.

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Denise - I am so sorry that your father-in-law has taken a turn for the worse. Having watched the decline of two sister-in-laws I understand how heartbreaking it is. It was difficult to see my husband suffer through the process as well. The people at hospice were quite good about explaining the different stages of death to us and telling us what stage they "thought" they were at. There was never a firm amount of time given to us; after all, we are individual in life and certainly remain individual in our death. I pray you find the strength at the times you need it.


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Denise I am so sorry your uncle has taken a turn.

I watched my sister in law go through inpatient hospice. She stuck around a lot longer than anyone expected. Each time they called and said that this was the night, she went a few more days.

During the last 5 days or so she was unresponsive. So one day we all got together around her bed and started talking about the old times and telling stories. Tom mentioned her old car that she named Nellie Bell and as soon as she heard that she let out a small laugh. I never stopped talking to her because I knew she was in there and could hear what I was saying. That was just the proof I needed.

We kept a vigil by her bedside but in the end she died alone which is what I think she wanted. She held on to that moment when we went in the hallway for a minute to let go of this world.

No one can say how much time we really have in this world. Your uncle will go when he is ready and no sooner. All you can do is just be ther and love and support him.

I am sending prayer and gentle hugs to get you through this process.


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All I can I say is don't focus on how much time your father in law has; focus on loving him and spending as much time with him as possible. My husband was in outpatient hospice and went through the same process your father in law is going through now. It was heartbreaking watching his health decline. Four days before he passed, he totally stopped eating, slept a lot and was non-responsive. When he passed away he was probably 100 lbs. I know exactly how you're feeling.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


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May you receive the strength, the courage, and every grace you need.

My brother-in-law, who died in 1984, was in hospice at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. He had terminal lung cancer. The hospice caregivers were so loving toward him, and our family was able to be with him.

Toward the end, he slept most of the time, and died with my sister-in-law and his children with him.

I asked her, many years later, if he had been in pain, and she said that he had not. He had died peacefully.

God bless you, and keep you.


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This is the first post I'm writing since my Dad died, on Jan. 28th. I was feeling much like you...wondering when exactly would be the end. All I can do is tell you what Dad went through, to give you some idea.

As some pp stated, it's heartbreaking to watch their loved one's health and weight decline. For Dad, he went from walking around (uncoordinated, though) about 1 week before he passed. He lost more and more independence each day. He became bedridden one day, after a fall. He was forced to "use" the depends, rather than the commode, the next day, then he stopped eating foods he had to chew, then he stopped drinking water through a straw b/c it was too thin (he still drank ice cream shakes through the straw and ate pudding), then he stopped even that the day before he died. He slept more and moved less...he couldn't turn himself over anymore about three days before he passed. Then, the day before, he slept and slept and started with longer pauses between breaths.

Dad was lucky to be pain-free, as far as we knew. He had the hospice aide with him to change him, etc., right before he passed.

Hospice was lovely...they were such a great group of people and really did try to explain things, but with a positive outlook. Dad's oncologist had told my mom about how long Dad had left, if he stopped treatment like he did, and the oncologist was about right. I was glad that I was able to get there to see him when I did. He was still responsive and somewhat vocal when I saw him at first...even waving to my toddler daughter.

As pp said, enjoy the time you have...it's so surreal and it's still sad, even though you are preparing for it. Also, just keep talking to him...no one really knows what they can and can't hear, but I like to think that hearing is one of the last senses to go. Also, we liked to put music on, so that Dad could hear something nice when we weren't sitting with him.

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Denise, I'm so sorry for what your FIL, you and your family are going through. I agree with the others that you spend what time you have to spend with him loving him and talking to him. At the end, my friend Jim was seemingly unconscious for at least 24 hours. But I sat by him for two hours and talked and even joked with him. Something told me he was still in there listening to me.

Judy in Key West

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