5 Important Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting an Ailing Loved One
Death is a natural part of life, but when the time comes to bid farewell to a friend or loved one, words often fail. Grappling with the passing of those closest to us is never easy, but, with advances in healthcare, death can often be prepared for.
Proper end-of-life care—like the kind offered by certified hospices in San Diego County and others throughout the country—can help ease a loved one’s passing. But perhaps the best care is the kind that a close relative, friend or kind-hearted volunteer can give in a person’s final days and hours.
Ultimately, it’s important to express what is in your heart, but if you find yourself struggling to know exactly what to say, here are some suggestions for a visit with someone who is about to pass on.
1. Listen to them.
If a person is terminally ill, they may still have weeks, even months, to live. As long as the person can carry on a conversation, one of the most important things you can do is simply listen, without judgment or even comment. Many people who are nearing the end of life wish to share their thoughts or experiences. Others may just need someone to talk to about their feelings or even something as simple as how their day is going. Be there for them.
2. Read to them.
Oftentimes, a patient who is in the last stages of their life may not have the strength to talk much. But even if the person appears to be unconscious, don’t assume that they can’t hear you. Many studies indicate that hearing is the last sense to go. One thing that you can do is read from a favorite book or spiritual text, or perhaps you can read them letters or emails that they have been sent.
3. Tell a joke.
Humor doesn’t have to be insensitive. In fact, there is a reason that laughter is the best medicine. Death is a stressful time and studies have shown that laughter eases muscle tension and can even release natural endorphins. Use your judgment—you know your loved one best—but a smile is one of the most precious gifts that you can give.
4. Pray together.
If you share a faith tradition with the person you are visiting—and if it feels appropriate—you might suggest saying a prayer together. However, make sure that you always ask a patient’s permission first. Remember, their wants come first.
5. Thank them.
Use the opportunity to express your gratitude for the person’s life, what they meant to you and what you learned from them. It’s important to let a person know that their life has had meaning.
Go online today to learn more about palliative care and hospices near you!
About The Author
By: Jessica Lane
For more resources regarding certified hospices in San Diego County please review these pages.
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