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Hospice Care/sisters death with hospice


my sister had hospice and was in a coma like state from meds the last three days and the worker said you would know when death was near because she would open her eyes and this is what happened exactly like she said and I need to know was she concious of this did she see and hear us and know us, was she saying good bye

Hi, Juliaa--

While I would love to tell you yes to your questions, I cannot.  I have never heard of someone in coma opening their eyes just before dying, let alone that it was a sign death was coming.  I'm sorry.

If your sister opened her eyes just before she died, it was likely a reflex, something happening in her brain at the time.  She would not have become conscious just before dying if her coma was because of her illness.  If she was in a medically induced coma, and the medication that held her in coma was stopped, and then she opened her eyes, then maybe she was conscious.

Here's what I believe (which is different from what I know--knowing would mean I am telling you it is fact, and I do not know it in that way; I know it from my heart, which is not the same).....  I believe that the last sense we have as we die is our hearing.  I believe that your sister could hear you and that she probably knew you were there.  I believe that her spirit was not facing the world any more, but facing what comes after, and that she probably saw and was communicating with people she knew and loved, and who knew and loved her, but who had already died.  I have had patient after patient tell me about these kinds of "visits."  I personally take comfort in the idea that when we go, friends come so we do not go alone.

I think it is important, now that your sister's illness and life are over and your job is to remember her and grieve her and bring goodness into your life in her honor and memory, I think it is important that you focus on the good things about her life.  How much you loved her and she loved you.  It was important that you were saying goodbye--because if she could hear you, if she was able to receive anything, she got goodness and love from you at the end, as she walked the rest of the way with whoever came to get her.

I am sorry I cannot give you a scientific answer about this, other than that this is not an indication of death being near.  Usually coma gets deeper and deeper until the body doesn't breathe or pump blood or hear or see or know..... and then death comes.  The idea that someone will rally in the last few moments of a comatose life is not consistent with what we know must be the case.  That said, I had a patient, who wasn't in a coma, he was just tired and he slept all the time.  His last hours, he slept and slept.  People were at his bedside, including me.  They would talk softly to him, touch his hand.... nothing.  Then, he opened his eyes, seemed to recognize people.  As I recall he didn't say anything.  But he did make eye contact as they talked to  him.  About 30 minutes later, he died.

There are a lot of unknowns.  I don't know if I have helped, but I hope so.  I ache for you, I cannot imagine missing my sister like you must miss yours.  My prayer for you and your family is to find peace and to soon be in a place where your memories of your sister bring giggles and laughs and love.


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Christine Johnson


I can give suggestions, encouragement and direction on what hospice is and is not, when it is appropriate, and how to go about getting it. I am familiar with Medicaid and Medicare hospice benefits. I can answer general questions about disease process, what dying looks like, how hospice handles pain and other symptoms, what to expect from a hospice when end of life nears. I can provide support, direction and encouragement related to spiritual matters and psychological matters related to death and dying.


I am a certified hospice and palliative care nurse, and have been the director of nurses for three hospice centers, under two different companies. I have also worked as a contract hospice nurse for a large American hospice company. On a personal level, my father died without benefit of hospice (it was not popular then). I have taken care of dying patients in hospitals and recognize that for most of us, it is preferable to die at home (or in our residence, wherever that may be), comfortably and without anxiety. Also I had no support when my father died; hospice clients are the whole family (however that is defined by the "patient"), and support is provided at least a year after the patient passes. These are the sorts of things (and probably others) that I can help with.

HPNA (Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association)

none yet

Registered Nurse (TX), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (TX) ADN Nursing, Excelsior College, Albany, New York (2004) 4.0 GPA BA, Psychology (minor Social Work), Oklahoma University, Norman, OK (1986) 3.67 GPA MHR (MA) Human Relations, Oklahoma University, Norman, OK (1988) 3.5 GPA

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Phi Beta Kappa (and others)

Past/Present Clients
Unable to name as this would violate their privacy (and HIPAA....)

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