"Memorable" Vacation Moments
The End of Summer

How to Talk with Someone You Are Going to Lose

Visiting someone who is dying is one of the most difficult things we do.  We can’t know what the other person is experiencing, but we do know how we feel about losing a friend or loved one.  It is always heartbreaking as well as a stark reminder of our own mortality.

In her Guide to the Great Beyond, Jane Brody has some helpful advice for us.  Of course, every situation is different, but here are her basic guidelines:

--This is not about you.  The focus should be on the patient.

--You can start with “Do you feel like talking?”  When there is not a lot of time left, it can be a comfort just to have someone in the room with you. Conversation may not be necessary.

--You can ask, “Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?”  Or, “Are there things you would like to say or things you are worried about?”

--It is OK to talk about the past, but it is not OK to say “I know how you feel” because you don’t.

--Finally, it’s OK to say that you don’t know what to say. 



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Mom said to me "I have to accept my diagnosis but I don't have to like it".

And for sure, silence is the most painful experience. Except for 2 friends, everyone stayed away the final 3 weeks of her life.


I love this advice; it's so helpful. I'm to give a talk at a conference in three days time, on 'Pathways to Grace-filled dying', and will remember what you have written here. I'll check out the book too; it sounds like a good one. Thank you for keeping the conversation open about the last phase of our lives. I love the simplicity of your blog, and the way it is always to the point. Much appreciated.

Diane Dahli

A friend of many years has died, and the hardest thing for me was finding something comforting to say to her during her last days. This article would have been so helpful. Thanks for addressing this topic.

The comments to this entry are closed.