When Death Comes
The last of the senses to go is hearing. In your parent's last hours, you may want to sit with her and read softly or enjoy some soft, quiet music. Talk to her and let her know it's okay to let go. Gently stroke her face or hold her hand; gentle touch is comforting.
She will probably lie quietly and may even appear to stare off into space. Her eyes may look like they are glassed over and she won't respond to your movements. She might even have short periods of lucidity. She may also have periods of restlessness. Some of this may actually just be muscle reflexes.
There are some unpleasant events surrounding death you should be prepared for. Sometimes there is a loss of bowel and bladder control at the moment of death. Muscles may twitch and she may even try to sit up or stand, but this is most likely a muscle response and not an intentional movement.
Sometimes patients yawn or make an audible yell or groan. This isn't a cry or indication of pain; it is just the last big expiration of air passing over her voice box. Her eyes can open and the jaw may drop open as well. Don't be frightened, these are all just normal reflexes as the body dies. You can gently close her jaw and pull her eyelids down.
In some instances, if the doctors have said death is imminent and yet she continues to hang on for days, it may be you are providing too much loving stimulus and causing her to fight to stay alive. Although it's hard to let go, if there is no hope for quality life, then it's time to let her go. You may have to each say a last goodbye and stroke her face or kiss her softly and then leave the room for a little while to let her peacefully slip away.
There is no rush to call anyone when death has occurred. Sit with her for a while; share a quiet moment of closure. Let other family members know and allow them to come and say goodbye if they wish. Then call the hospice nurse and physician. After she has been officially pronounced dead by the nurse, physician, or medical examiner (depending on your state and circumstances), you can contact the mortuary. If it's the middle of the night, they may not come until the morning.
The hospice nurse will notify the equipment companies to come and pick up the bed and rented equipment as appropriate with your schedule. The nurse will dispose of unused medications and instruct you in disposing of other items.