Summary of important points

It’s okay to be afraid of facing the death of your relative or friend. But the gift of being prepared to face it with them is priceless.

  • Remember that hearing often continues to the end.
  • Remember just how awkward many people, and even medical professionals, still are with death.
  • You may be involved in difficult decisions about life-prolonging treatments.
  • Try as far as possible to make sure that the dying person is cared for in a quiet and loving environment.
  • Be aware death can bring up unresolved family issues that may have lain dormant for a long time.
  • Be willing to be open and receptive to your relative or friend wanting to talk about their dying process. If you feel you cannot do this, do talk to carers who can support you.
  • Listen to what your friend or relative wants or needs, and try to ensure that those needs are met.
  • Listen to what the dying person is describing during the last weeks and days of life, and be supportive to whatever is happening for them. It is their dying process.
  • Help to create a sacred space as they enter their dying process – perhaps with gentle massage, or lighting candles, or playing beautiful music.
  • If appropriate, be open to being there at the end, knowing this can be one of life’s most enriching experiences.
  • You may—or may not experience strange phenomena around the time of death.
  • After being with someone who has died, be aware that you may feel strangely disconnected from reality for a period of time, and that you may find yourself asking questions about your own life.
  • If at any time, and especially after several months, you feel caught up with grief and unable to move forward, do seek help from a professional counsellor.

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