January 08 2019
Written By
Barbara Karnes
Back To Blog

Six Months To Live? A Doctor's Prediction

Six Months To Live?  A Doctor's Prediction


Barbara - January 12 2019

Hi Raquel, in response to not being able to really comprehend that your mother was going to die, right up to the day before she died: sometimes it is just to hard to accept or comprehend that someone close to us is going to die. We put a protective shield around ourselves because not to, just hurts too much. Also, we deal with the challenge of end of life basically in the same way we deal with all our major challenges. Look and see how you approach difficult situations. Do you close your eyes and prefer not to see them? Raquel, you might write your mother a letter. Put in the letter everything you wish you had said and done while your mother was ill and dying. No one needs to see or even know about the letter. Just write from your heart. When you are finished , burn the letter and release the ashes to the wind. As you let the ashes go let your feelings of "I wish I had done it differently” go also. Know that your mom will know and bless you. I don’t know your relationship with your siblings but you might talk with them about what you are feeling and listen to their thoughts. Blessings! Barbara

Raquel Mendoza - January 12 2019

Dear Barbara – when my 83 yr old mother was very ill during the first week of February, 2012, my father, siblings and I met at the hospital where my mother was admitted to listen to her doctor. He told us she was approaching the end of life stage and we should make arrangements for palliative care, then hospice. Though I heard his words, I did not accept them. Even up until the day before her death, when all she did was sleep, I still did not believe she would go. Is this normal? I never spoke to my 4 siblings about how they felt and have often wondered if they thought the same as I did. Now, I think back and would have changed so many things. I would have taken more time from my job to spend with my mom. I want so much to turn back time and do things differently, but that is impossible. I purchased your guide (containing your booklets) on the death process, and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I’ve only read “Gone From My Sight” as this was given to my father by the hospice service. It was in Spanish and it was very helpful to my heartbroken father. He still reads this booklet from time to time and finds comfort in it. Thank you for comforting information. It is very appreciated.

Barbara - January 10 2019

Hi Merilynn, you make a very good point about the time frame for a hospice referral. Unfortunately, I’m not sure most physicians are thinking hospice when they make their end of life predictions (I wish they were). Yes, hospice regulations require a limited prognosis of 6 months or less. It requires that 2 physicians sign their names to that time frame BUT in our teaching to the patient and family our job as end of life professionals is to make it clear that those numbers are a guesstimate, that no one can put a number on how long someone has to live.
Blessings! Barbara

Merilynne Rush - January 10 2019

Dear Barbara,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful blog post. So many people ask this question. It’s understandable that we all want to know, and you made some really good points. I really hopes it helps this person. Do you think that the doctor may have said that because then this dying person would be eligible for hospice care? Could you talk more about why it’s necessary to make these predictions for hospice purposes, even though we can’t really know for sure?
Thank you for all you do.

Gail Giacomini - January 10 2019

I agree with those who said to only do that which is helpful to living each day the best that can be. Also educate yourself as to the progression of dying. This will be of more help to you than trying to pinpoint the time of death, even if you are trying to figure out how to husband your strength, resources, etc.
Remember the journey isn’t all smoothly downhill- there are plateaus and even slight rises on the way!

Barbara - January 10 2019

Hi Patricia, thank you for your comments on my blog article. Ignore the 6 to 8 months the doctors have said and just enjoy each day that you both have together. Finding specialness in each day will make your remaining time together more meaningful. Isn’t that how life is really meant to be lived? Blessings! Barbara

Maggie Baer - January 10 2019

Yes, it’s me yet again! Thank you for an excellent topic and feedback! Many of us in healthcare and hospice have been wrestling with this information and misinformation for what seems like forever. I can state hundreds of examples that illustrate erroneous predictions. And, it can go either way. So many times the predictions are short term 3-6 months…or the opposite.. 1 year and the patient dies in a few days ( my particular case with my Mom.

Patricia - January 10 2019

I just read the comment on a person with 6months to live.My husband also has been given 6-9 months to live starting last Oct. due to asbestosis and cholangiocarcinoma with no treatment due to his frail medical condition.he is almost 89 yrs old and does not want to hear the word HOSPICE. However he is a good patient ,not too demanding.i have 4 of your booklets and find them very knowledgeable and comforting to read and reread! THANK YOU

Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up