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Friday, August 25, 2017
For many of us, we struggle with finding the right words to say when those we care about are hurt or experiencing grief. This struggle only intensifies when someone we hold dear is close to death and there is little that can be done to remedy the situation. It is not uncommon to feel anxious or uneasy about visiting and speaking with someone that is dying. It’s something many of us lack experience with and talking about death or illness is somewhat taboo in society.
Deep down, everyone knows that they owe it to a friend or loved one to visit them if they are sick or dying. If the roles were reversed, you would hope that your friends and family would make the effort to come visit you.
One of the most important reasons to visit a dying friend is to say a final goodbye. If you don’t make the effort to go and see them, you may feel overwhelmed with guilt and regret when they pass away. This will make an already emotional and difficult experience even worst. You will become angry at yourself for not seeing them when you could have. This can become even more important if you have previously had a feud or falling out with the person and the situation is still unresolved. If you do not make the effort to visit them, you will lose out on the opportunity to forgive each other before it’s too late.
If you consider yourself to be a true friend, then you know this means being there during the good times and also during the bad times. Although the situation may seem awkward at first, just being there will give them comfort in knowing they won’t have to face the inevitable alone. This time will allow the two of you to reflect over memories with one another and remember the good times you had together. This time together will help give you closure when their time finally comes.
It’s imperative that you overcome your reluctance to talk about what is happening. Although you both may not want to discuss it, you will likely just make the situation more awkward. You can help put your friend at ease by acknowledging their illness and asking them questions. Doing so should help them open up about their feelings and what they’re going through. Keep in mind though they may not want to discuss this, so pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues and adjust accordingly.
Oftentimes, listening is what helps others the most. Your friend may just want to vent so it’s important to be there for them so they can do that. This may become quite emotional but understand it’s better to show your emotion than bottle it up. Putting on a brave face may come off like you do not care or are uninterested. Showing your emotions will let them know that you too are in pain because of the situation.
Don't underestimate the power of touch. Sometimes words are not necessary, and simply holding their hand or placing it gently on their forehead or shoulder is all they need. A simple touch will allow the two of you to feel connected in ways words cannot.
The first conversation will definitely be the hardest. But like most things, each visit and conversation will get easier the more you do it. As a final piece of advice – do not to wait until the last minute to say goodbye. You never know when your last conversation might be. A casual “see you soon” or “it’s been good to see you” may leave you wishing your last goodbye had meant more. Each goodbye does not need to be overly sappy or emotional, just a heartfelt goodbye that lets them know how important they are to you will be enough. This way, if it is your last goodbye, you will feel satisfied that you told them how much you value their friendship.
Horst, G. (2017). Tips for talking with someone who is dying. Retrieved from http://www.virtualhospice.ca/en_US/Main+Site+Navigation/Home/Topics/Topics/Communication/Tips+for+Talking+with+Someone+Who+is+Dying.aspx
Virtual Hospirce. (2017). What can I say to a friend who is dying? Retrieved from http://www.virtualhospice.ca/en_US/Main+Site+Navigation/Home/Support/Support/Asked+and+Answered/Communication/Communicating+with+the+Patient/What+can+I+say+to+a+friend+who+is+dying_.aspx
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