It’s Hard To Say Goodby

It’s hard to say good-bye to our husbands, but putting off meaningful conversations is perhaps the number one source of regret. Spend time telling them what they mean to you. Dying people want to hear four very specific messages from their loved ones: “Thank you.” “Please forgive me.” “I forgive you.” “I love you.”

Realize that the dying person usually knows what’s happening. The person who’s dying starts to wonder if anyone else gets it. This stresses them — they have to think about others’ needs instead of dealing with their own. It helps to reassure them that you understand and in a way, you’re granting the person permission to die peacefully.

If the person talks about impending death either directly or indirectly through a metaphor, a helpful response would be to say: “Tell me more.” If they are expressing anxiety about finishing certain tasks, you can follow with reassurance: “You’ve done a good job, you’re all set.” Sometimes the person may ask, “Am I dying?” as a way of gauging your feelings. You can reflect the question back: “I don’t know. How are you feeling?”Others refuse to discuss death and their wishes should be honored.

Being reassured that their loved ones will be fine in their absence helps them feel that they can go peacefully. It may help to say: “You look tired, sweetheart, please don’t worry about me.” It’s also common for them to seek reconciliation with people, with God or the universe, or within themselves. They often ask directly about particular relationships or express a desire to see someone they’ve been in conflict with. Telling them that they made a difference to their family and friends will fill their need to know that their life had meaning and purpose.

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