Knowing what to say to someone who is dying can be the most uplifting last words he will hear, this can also leave a positive impact on his loved ones.
When someone is dying it’s so hard to treat them the same way as you used to. There’s a giant elephant in the room that you can’t ignore. But, to treat your loved one differently is to affirm that their time is coming to a close.
How Not Act Around Someone Who’s Dying
Knowing what not to say to someone who is dying may be more important than knowing what to say. It can be so easy to stick your foot in your mouth without meaning to.
1. Try Not to Show Too Much Worry
There’s a fine line between being concerned and over worrying. Not only will your anxious energy affect them, but they may feel like you’ve stopped seeing them as a person, and only as someone who’s going to die.
2. Don’t Show Too Much Pessimism
They already have a lot to be sad about and they don’t need you to add to it. You don’t have to pretend that everything is fine, but try not to dwell on the fact that they’re dying.
Avoid saying: “Enjoy every minute now because it’s only going to get worse from here.” and other phrases.
3. Don’t Judge Their Response to Their Upcoming Death
Everyone is going to react in a different way when facing death. It’s not your job to make sure they do it “the right way.”
Don’t try to force them into a fighting mood or try to pull them out of their sadness. Just support what they’re feeling and listen to them when they talk to you.
4. Don’t Minimize the Impact of Their Upcoming Death
You might think it’s helpful to be a cheerleader for them on the sidelines, but you may unintentionally cause them to have more pressure.
Saying things like, “Don’t let cancer beat you!” or “Just keep moving,” will make them feel bad about themselves. Especially if their body is weakening before their eyes.
Whatever is causing the weakening is real and large to them. Instead, acknowledge what the illness is doing to them and ask how you can help.
5. Don’t Avoid Them
Don’t ever avoid your dying loved one because you are afraid to talk to them. Your anxiety should not hinder from what to say to someone who is dying. They’re already down and if you do this, they will feel isolated. This is the time when they need love and support.
If you don’t know what to say, say nothing and hold their hand. Touch can say a lot too, never forget that.
6. Don’t Air Grievances
It doesn’t matter if the person dying treated you like dirt in the past. This is not the time to start pointing out all the ways they hurt you.
You’ll just look like a jerk if you do this.
What to Say to Someone Who is Dying
Everyone’s relationship is different, so some of these ideas may or may not apply to you and your loved one. Here are some ways you can be a good visitor.
1. Let Them Take the Lead
Let your loved one decide when to talk about dying, don’t try to force it out of them. People can fluctuate with the actualization that they are dying.
2. Say I Love You
Don’t let the fact that your time is short with your loved one stop you from expressing yourself. This is the time to show you care.
They need all the love they can get.
3. Ask Them How They’re Doing
Don’t be afraid to ask how they’re doing. They might respond that they are having a good day or they may explode with emotion about dying.
Either way, they’re trusting you with their emotions. Listen to them and make sure they know they’re being heard.
4. Encourage Them to Share with You
This could be anything from fond memories, to end of life goals, to things they want to cross off their bucket list.
Let them know that you are around to listen and help in any way you can.
5. Be Truthful
You can’t ignore the elephant in the room as much as you want to. There’s no reason you can’t be truthful with your loved one. Just make sure you are kind as you deliver truths.
It’s okay to say you don’t know an answer when asked a big question or don’t know how to help them.
Opposite to airing your grievances, if your dying loved one is asking for forgiveness for whatever slight, forgive them. You have nothing to lose.
You will give them peace and maybe get a little bit of your own.
What To Say To Someone Who Is Dying: Be Yourself
Your loved one loves you for being you. If you can, try not to change your personality too much when interacting with them. Just being there for them can mean the world to them.