Saying Goodbye to a Loved One Who is Dying
By Judy H. Wright
Standing at the bedside of a parent or friend who is in the process of transitioning out of this life is not an experience most people prepare for and many find overwhelming. You can be so traumatized that you neglect the opportunity to tell that person how you truly feel. Sharing and listening can be a final gift to your loved one. It can also be a great spiritual experience if you are open with statements and ministrations of love and best wishes.
Hearing is the last sense to go. Elicit the cooperation of others in making the passage a sacred event, by verbally sharing happy memories and stories. Focus the sounds of voices on making gentle conversation. There might be soft background music but turn off the TV or radio. Do not expect a response from the dying because their limited energy is involved in important work.
Acknowledge the positive aspects of your loved one’s legacy. Take turns listing the gifts and lessons the dying person has given to you and to the world. This is a time to reassure them that they will not be forgotten and that his or her life had value.
Celebrate and acknowledge the special times, talents, and teachings you have shared. Search your memory for good times, but don’t look for the major moments, rather the small, insignificant at the time moments, that you remember. This is a final acknowledgement of the gifts that the dying has given the living and neither the gift nor the person will be forgotten. Use this time to express gratitude and reassurance that these legacies will live on for generations.
Examples of the type of memory you might recall include:
“I will always remember the time you brought me red licorice and a milk shake when I had a sore throat. You bit the ends off the licorice so I could use it as a straw. It may have been hard for you to say ‘I love you’ but your actions that day really showed me that you cared.”
“Thank you for your vast knowledge of the stars at night. The grandkids will never look at the Milky Way without thinking of you. They will share the stories of the night sky with their children and grandchildren.”
“You always loved a good cup of coffee in the morning. I will lift my cup to you every morning and remember how much I loved you.”
My mother told me just before dying, that my words put pictures in her mind. She said “It is like you are putting a video in my brain that I can watch and forget the pain.”
Make it your intention to comfort and support the dying person with love, stories and reassurance. If you can be willing and open to saying goodbye and good wishes as your loved one leaves on their last earthly journey, you will both be blessed and rewarded.
Do you have stories about the transition of life? Please share them with us on our blog http://www.whendeathisNear.blogspot.com We want to build a community of kindred spirits who have faced the loss of a loved one and are willing to give hope and encouragment to others.
Judy and her friend, Jane Franz, a music thanalogist, are co-authoring a book of the same name. Publication date will be announced on this blogspot.