As millions watched the service for Eunice Shriver, they heard her daughter, Maria, say, “If you had told me that at the age of 52, I would finally get up the nerve to crawl into bed with my mother, hod her, and tell her that I love her, I would have said you were nuts. The simple act is one I have witnessed often as a bedside hospice volunteer. It has brought peace to the dying and resulted in comforting memories for the survivors.

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Many people aren’t sure what to do when faced with the imminent death of a loved one. The simplest advice is to think what you would want your loved ones to do as you begin your journey. Here are a few things abstracted from Lessons for the Living: Stories of Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Courage at the End of Life.

-Tell them how much you love them and how much they have contributed to your life.

-Say goodbye.

-Give them permission to leave when they are ready.

-Sit, facing your loved on when speaking to him or her.

-Reduce noise in the room.

-Create a calming environment.

-Celebrate their life.

-Listen more, talk less.

-Although dying, they can hear. Include them in your conversations.

-Don’t rely on words to communicate. Take a lesson from Maria.

Intuitively, we know how to make someone’s journey easier. We’ve be doing it as long as we have been human, maybe even before that. All we have to do is place our brain on hold and communicate from our heart.

2 Responses

  1. Katherine Harmon

    My father is nearing the end of his time here with me on this earth. As I read ‘A lesson in Dying”, I was touched by the suggestions listed in attending a loved one’s death. I am hoping that I will be able to create a peaceful, loving environment for him to make this transition. I feel it is the least I can do for him after all he has done for me. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Stan Goldberg

      Hi Katherine,

      Thank you for your kind words. What I’ve come to realize is that by applying the suggestions I wrote about in the article (and others) not only can we ease our loved one’s death, but also reduce the severity and duration of our own grief. One major component of grief is the regret we have at not doing something or saying something when our loved one was alive. The phrase, “If only I ……..” is replaced with “I’m so fortunate I was able to …..”

      Take Care,
      Stan

      Reply

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