End-of-life conversations are difficult. Death, even though a natural part of life, is something people just don’t talk about. In fact, it’s avoided at all costs. This isn’t surprising — how exactly would you find the right words when you feel your loved one was wronged by a terminal illness? Here are some ways to help you say goodbye to your dying relative:
Follow your loved one’s lead.
Sometimes, it’s not you who’s going to initiate the conversation. It’s your loved one. They would talk about death directly or indirectly, say, with a story or a metaphor. Some loved ones feel the urge to give a sense of hope, saying something like “you’re not dying,” but this never helps. It invalidates the person’s suffering and makes it difficult for you to have peace with the impending reality of death.
When your loved one initiates talks like that, ride along what they’re trying to say. From here, you can sense what they’re anxious or thankful about. And you can turn that into a moment of telling them that they shouldn’t worry about you or that you are grateful for their life.
Say it through other means.
Write your loved one a letter, if you worry about your mind going completely blank when talking. Read it to them. Flip through an old photo album with your dying relative. Cook a meal for them. Hold their hand. In some instances, especially when the patient is no longer able to respond in words, actions are the only way to communicate goodbye.
To provide the best care possible for your loved one in their last days, get help from experts who provide hospice home services. Indiana specialists advocate for better quality of life of dying patients, so consider working with these people.
Tie loose ends.
End-of-life talks are often for closure. For instance, a dying parent would want to know if their children have already reconciled or if they’ve already been forgiven. Give your loved one a sense of reassurance in these moments. You don’t have to lie, but you don’t have to be too brutally honest either. Tell them that you’re working on finding reconciliation and forgiveness.
Of course, reassurance also involves telling them directly that you love them. It’s sometimes awkward to express affections, but for sure, giving in to awkwardness for a while is so worth it, just for your loved one to feel that you appreciate them.
Dealing with talks about death is never easy. But, say goodbye before it’s too late. Don’t let the words go unsaid.