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chyna's avatar

Would you be with your relative that you don't get along with at the end of their life?

Asked by chyna (45774points) October 22nd, 2011

If you have a sibling or parent that you absolutely can’t stand, don’t get along with and haven’t spoken to in years and you find out they are in the hospital with just a few days to live, do you spend time with them? Or do you just let them die alone? This happened to someone I know of and it made me sad that this person had three brothers that didn’t get along with each other, so they left their sister to die alone rather than risk running into each other.

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27 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

It would depend on the person and what it was that made the relationship strained in the first place. Who wants to hear something really messed up at the end and the person dies after that leaving you with it forever? Shit like “your sister was my favorite and I always thought you were a shit because you were adopted. Some people can be bitter at the end when they know they will have the last word.

jca's avatar

I would feel like maybe we can make amends and that would leave me with an uplifting memory instead of a bad feeling about the person. If the person acted miserably toward me on their deathbed, I would feel like at least I tried, I made an effort.

Coloma's avatar

I think that if one is speaking of extremely abusive behaviors, then, no. One is under no obligation to appease an unrepentant abuser at their end of life experience.

If this is a case of basic, childish sibling rivalry or petty disagreements, or anything short of serious abuse, then, I think it’s time for those involved to grow up and put their own petty grievances aside and show compassion and support.

The world is full of big boys and girls that are still emotionally stuck at infantile levels.

All the more reason to so some serious personal and spiritual growth work, but, sadly, very few ever get to this point, and, if they are dealing with serious personality disorders, the odds are great that it’s just not gonna happen.

john65pennington's avatar

Blood is thicker than water and the brothers should have been there for their sister.

Sooner or later, they will meet their maker and have to answer for their non-actions.

chyna's avatar

@Coloma This case I’m referring to is absolutely a case of childishness, pettiness, etc. It shocked me that they couldn’t put aside their differences to just be some comfort to their dying sister. There was no abuse, etc. involved.

Coloma's avatar


That’s too bad, sad that peoples childishness makes them so self centered they can’t just let it go long enough to extend some care and comfort.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If they wanted me, I’d be there regardless of who else was in the room. I’ve had to let a loved one die alone and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes. I have been. I will continue to be there for my family. I will bathe them and be an advocate for them.

Pandora's avatar

Sounds like they didn’t care about her either. Because if they did, than it wouldn’t have mattered who was there.
If I did care about the person dying, I would’ve been there.

beccagolling's avatar

I would be there for that family member. And in fact I do have a grandma who has cancer who isn’t doing very well. I have a hard time being around her, but I try my best not to let it show. I want to make her feel better.

flutherother's avatar

If you are in any doubt at all then you should go. You don’t want to be left with regrets. Death is final.

SavoirFaire's avatar

When the aunt I hate dies, I’ll only be there if my mother needs support as her sister dies. Otherwise, she can die alone for all I care. I don’t avoid family events just to keep away from the hated aunt, however, and would not abandon some other family member whose life was ending just because I’d have to see her as well.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes and I have. Hopefully, at the end of their life, they’ve stopped being as idiotic as they’ve been ‘cause they’re scared to death about death – this makes them more tolerable as does the fact that they’ll die soon – maybe that sounds harsh but it’s true. I spend my father’s last years with him and was able to even feel good feelings towards him but I never forgot how negatively he’s affected me and that after his death, I’ll be able to breathe easier. And I have been able to breathe easier since he died.

tranquilsea's avatar

We have one situation within our family that has been a mess for years. My cousin was raised on a lighthouse with 4 other families. She, sadly, was sexually abused by one or more of the men. It really messed her up. Her mother sided with the abusers which messed her up even more.

When her mother was on her death bed she tried to work out a time to visit her but the rest of her family blocked her from doing so. I think that the way they have treated her has been shameless.

We haven’t had anything to do with that side of the family (with the exception of my cousin) for 30 years.

I know that I would attend the end of life for anyone who was close to me. It is almost more important if you’ve had a rough relationship. It’s your one last time to let them know that you love them.

filmfann's avatar

I’ve gotta say that there are limits here.
My cousin is responsable for my favorite Aunt’s death. If she was near death, I don’t think I could visit her.

augustlan's avatar

If I had irreconcilable differences with the one dying, I would not go. I think it’s almost disingenuous to try to make amends on their deathbed, if I was uninterested in doing so during their lifetime. However, if it was another possible visitor that I had problems with, I’d absolutely visit the dying loved one. I don’t care who is there, if a person I love needs me… I’m going to be there for them.

The only possible exception I can think of is if the presence of two warring visitors would be worse for the dying person than our absence. Like, if a big fight is inevitable (that is, the other person can’t control themselves), that doesn’t seem very helpful for the dying person.

Bellatrix's avatar

Yes. Without any doubt in my mind at all. I love the relatives I don’t get along with. We are just different and irritate each other. I wouldn’t want them to die alone.

marinelife's avatar

Their death would trump my feelings. I would be there at the hospital.

Hibernate's avatar

It’s jut me .. I find it to be somewhat… how can I put this and not be misjudged ... somehow hypocrisy. I mean let’s be serious for a moment. They / we did not get along all our lives. Nobody wanted to break the silence and at least give it a try, then all of a sudden when sh*t hits the fans we should act like a “family”. No way. I won’t bother visiting them if I knew they were to die. If they needed a transplant for something and if I was to be compatible I’d help but if they die because of different things I wouldn’t bother to reconciliate on the hospital bed just because one of us is dying. We either try it when things are okay or don’t even bother in the last minutes. Not to mention that if I want to loose touch with these family members I wouldn’t find out X person is dying in Y hours/days. And if it was me on the hospital bed .. well .. I have a “don’t call relatives in case of critical situation, call X person”.

This is me. We make it right when we’re living or we don’t speak till death do us part.

Bellatrix's avatar

I wouldn’t try to reconcile @Hibernate, but I wouldn’t leave them to die alone. They aren’t bad people. I don’t hate them. We just don’t connect and are very different people.

Hibernate's avatar

@Bellatrix I’ve been there…

Went for my “role” from the lobby. Entered with calm steps. Cold eyes. I felt like doing anything for them. Then they started talking… yeah, yeah, right, my fault… then my head started spinning. Guess what. It did more harm then actually helping any of us. I’d rather not repeat this experience.

chyna's avatar

@Hibernate I understand if you are walking into a mob or even a few people in a hospital setting that are hostile to you. What I’m talking about is if you know that no one is at the hospital with someone as they are dying, would you be there?

Hibernate's avatar

You didn’t understood me. If THAT particular person that is dying in the hospital didn’t try to keep the relation we had, I wouldn’t visit him. It’s hard to explain. If we were friends but at a point in life we stopped talking because of him/her then I wouldn’t try to be nice when they are dying. Till that point they had time to try and make it better. I never turned away someone who did me wrong and came to apologize.

And try and picture another situation. If that person who is dying is trying to make it better and call me there [before telling me they are sick and they will die really soon] I go there even if I will end up seeing a lot of people I don’t want to see. It’s not like I’m there for them.
But if he/she calls me and tells me they will die I don’t really care. I tell them I forgive them but I won’t bother going to the hospital. I know, sounds insane but it’s just how things are. I should go but the wall is build around and it’s not easy to pass through. They should have checked themselves before they check out.

perspicacious's avatar

No blanket answer here for me. I don’t think I can answer this as a “what if.” There are some family members that I would insist on being close to right to the end. Others, I’m not sure what I would/will do when that time comes.

augustlan's avatar

Just to clarify, I’m not talking about a person I merely “don’t get along with”, when I say I wouldn’t be at the hospital if they were dying. I’m talking about people who caused me such great harm in my life that I cut them out of my life. Like my abuser (who is already dead, so that’s a moot point), or my mother, who allowed the abuse to happen, unabated, for years. I really do feel it would be a bad idea, in that type of situation.

But, say it was my aunt who was dying. I’d be there, even if I knew my mother would be, too.

Mariah's avatar

It would depend on the person’s wishes, not mine. If they don’t want me there I won’t force myself upon them, but if they would like my company, of course I can put aside my feelings and grudges for a dying person.

My feelings change, however, in a situation like @augustlan.‘s Abusers don’t get my sympathy even on their death beds.

Hibernate's avatar

Recently [as in this morning] I had to go through this AGAIN. Fuking yey. My uncle died. We did not get along and when I was there to help them [we had to take him to the hospital].
Guess what? He wasn’t that pleased to see me there evne if I was trying to help. Fuck this shit !!

Take my advice. When you somehow don’t get along with a family member and you know he’s gonna die [be it home or in the hospital] try not to be near it because it’s not something really pleasant to see. [not the dying part but the frowns you get from them from being there].

I don’t need condolences or anything. Just wanted to add a side note here that it’s better to stay as far away as possible in this situations.

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