Do you believe that you shouldn’t talk about death to those who are dying? Is it unkind, uncomfortable, or somehow wrong? When we spend time with a dying loved one, we often want to avoid saying the words: death, dying, funeral, last days, etc. We try to remain upbeat, telling our loved one that they look good and that things will be fine. We spend a our time talking about every day things, sharing the latest gossip, or complaining about our lives all in an effort to not talk about what is really going on. Our loved one is dying.
Why don’t we talk about death and dying to our terminally ill loved ones? Who in the room doesn’t know that the person we love is dying? Do you believe that your friend doesn’t know they are reaching the end of their life?
I believe those facing terminal illness know they are going to die. When someone has fought the tough battle, whether they will admit it out loud or not, I believe they know they are dying. When in the process of their illness this happens is as individual as we are, but I believe it happens.
By saying nothing about what is right in front of you, the opportunity to really connect with your loved one is missed. The chance to say, “I am sorry- do you want to talk about what is happening?” is lost. The chance to hear how they are really feeling, what they are experiencing, and what they are thinking about is missed.
How would you want to spend the end of your life? Connecting with those you love or talking about mundane things that don’t matter? Share this time connecting with your dying loved ones. If we are honest about what is happening, the time together can be used to share the love between you and to give both of you the opportunity to say goodbye. Why hold yourself back? Throw all your love in; you will reap such great rewards.
Be strong enough to ask the right questions. Maybe your loved one needs your help bringing up the reality that they are dying. It is possible they are afraid to bring it up to you because they don’t know if you have accepted that their death is coming or they don’t know how you will react to the news? The emotional energy to take care of you and your feelings may not be something they have to offer at the moment, but they may have the desire to talk to you about what is happening to them. By taking that burden from them, you both win.
Don’t use your fear to stop you from talking about death to a dying friend. You will know if they aren’t ready to talk about it. But if they are, what special memories you will have of helping your friend prepare for what is to come. Don’t cheat yourself or your loved one out of this chance.
Let Death Out of the Closet