Being confronted with a loved one’s impending end is unlike any familiar feeling. A floodgate of helplessness, guilt, anger, anxiety and fear is opened and often we are left not knowing what to say or do.
It’s an extremely difficult situation to be in. We don’t want to be rude by asking the wrong questions. At the same time, we don’t want to come off as indifferent or distant. However, we have to face the inevitable one way or another.
- Never assume you know what to do.
The fact is being confronted with the thought of someone dying is overwhelming. That’s why there’s no point to making yourself forceful in trying to understand the situation. Never believe you have to know what you should to because after all, no one really knows what to do when it happens.
When you find out someone is dying, it’s okay to be a mess. It’s okay to embrace all these emotions. There is no black or white in this situation. Life coach Judith Johnson once advised, “Lead with your heart — keep your love flowing with the dying person and others as well — if possible. Nothing is more important than loving each other. Do your best and then some.”
- Respect the dying’s decision
No matter what happens, the dying person is in full control and is the boss. We could continuously wish or demand that something else be done to prevent the inevitable. However, this isn’t simply the case. If the dying person is conscious enough to make decisions, never bully him/her to do things you want.
Nowadays, assisted deaths are increasingly becoming more rampant. This means the dying want to have their last say in their final days. The best we can do is to respect that decision and see it through the end with them.
- Maintain a peaceful environment
It’s understandable that the environment around the dying person can get chaotic. From families to friends squabbling and crying, it’s not the quietest place to be in. However, one must strive to maintain a peaceful environment, particularly when the dying is unconscious.
Should families start to argue, it’s best to talk outside of the room. Furthermore, make the place of the dying person a sacred and calm one. Make it a room of love and care. Otherwise, regrets may fill the place instead of positivity.
- “What do you need?”
One of the common mistakes people make is they tend to start an outpour of advice to the dying person. Sometimes, we tend to tell them to “believe” or “miracles happen” or “you’ll get through this”. These can be tricky statements because you could be giving the dying person false hopes.
The best you can do is to follow the person’s lead and prompt questions more often. Ask him or her what you can do to help the burdens surrounding them. Do they need help to run some errands or do some chores? Do they need you to do something for them personally? Whichever that may be, it’s best to ask questions first. Let them be the one to tell you what they want or need. Like what we said previously, the dying person is the boss.
- “Please forgive me.”
If there are things that you know that hurt the person once in their life, this is the best time to ask for their forgiveness. Dr. Glen Horst shares, “There is no need to fuss over small injuries or insults. However, when you are preparing to say a final goodbye, you may be bothered by regrets about hurtful words or actions, or ways you may have disappointed the dying person. Deal with your regrets by saying something like, “I’ve been feeling sorry about something that happened between us. I know I had a part in it and I’d like to apologize for it.” Whatever the response, you will know that you have done what you could to address a painful part of your relationship.”
One of the best things you can wish for is for the person to pass away in peace. That includes allowing the person to pass on with very little to no pains to bring with him/her.
- “I love you.”
These are three words that could be used too often or too rarely. Either way, they still are the most impactful sentence that exists in this world.
This person is about to meet the inevitable. During these last few days, you’d want your loved one to feel the best, most special and loved as s/he can be. In fact, “I love you” is known as one of the most popular statements dying people want to hear their loved ones say, according to the book the book The Four Things That Matter Most, by Dr. Ira Byock, professor of palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire
So don’t waste another second. Let that person know that you love him or her.