It’s Okay Not To Eat! Food At End of Life

1 week ago

FOOD! We eat to live. It sustains living. Everyone and everything needs some form of food, of nourishment, to maintain life. Animals (and that includes humans), plants, insects, all need some form of food to live. It seems that with humans, we add to the nourishment aspect of eating a social component as well as an emotional one. We socialize with food. We show love with food.

My husband Jack has been dead eight months. In processing the five months from his diagnosis to his death, what stands out most for me is the tension that surrounded food. AND I KNEW BETTER!

As his body was declining, I experienced a driving intensity to feed him. He ate less and less, while I pleaded, badgered, coaxed, and pushed food on him. His not eating “enough” became our biggest point of tension. I never said, “You are dying and you need to eat,” but I was thinking it.

One day after a particularly tense session of his not eating and my strongly encouraging him to eat, I left the room in tears. It was then that I saw the obvious: I was trying to keep him alive while his body was preparing to die. Even with all my knowledge of end of life, my husband was going to die and my feeding him wasn’t going to change the outcome. It was only making this precious time together more challenging and disruptive.

I‘ve thought about my reactions. If I felt this frustration and even panic with all the knowledge and experience that I have, how do others, without the knowledge, cope? Probably poorly. SO I wrote a booklet, Always Offer, Never Force. This short booklet is in the format of my others. It addresses eating and not eating as end of life approaches, with some nutritional guidelines as well as what foods to offer. 

Just as there are new rules in pain management, in sleep, in socialization at end of life, there are new rules for eating. My hope is that by reading about the normal progression of eating to not eating and what to do to help our special person during that time, my booklet can guide and support others as they journey this challenging road toward life’s conclusion.

How do I see Always Offer, Never Force being used?

Always Offer, Never Force is a companion to Gone From My Sight and The Eleventh Hour.

Include it with the initial hand out materials.

Read it with families and caregivers as a teaching tool. 

Brand it with your agency name and logo.
It is not just for Hospice use, but for Palliative Care programs and End of Life Doulas, as well.

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Jordan M
5890 points
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