Saying our final goodbyes to a loved one is one of the most difficult things we ever do. It is also an opportunity to start the journey of grieving well. Here are some suggestions on what you might say or do with a parent or other loved one facing their final days.
Tell them that they have done their job of being a parent or friend well. Their job is now complete. It is OK that they have not done it perfectly. With a parent share that they you and your siblings are healthy and prospering in their lives. Tell them they can go (go towards the light) when they are ready. There is no need to stay any longer. You will be OK.
Thank him or her for everything they have said or done that has been helpful, inspiring or a gift to you. Even if you have already shared those things before. Also share anything helpful, etc. they have done with, for, others too.
Be present when you are with them. Take nothing for granted as you may not have many more visits.
Let your feelings show up. Don’t hold back as it is one of the greatest gifts you can share with another person. Share what brought up the feelings: not getting to have more holidays together, etc.
Make physical contact: Hold their hand, give hugs if you can. Stoke their hair. Those are all a comfort and a great way to express love that goes beyond words.
After they pass be open to receiving hugs and having your hand held. Give those things freely to others nearby. We all need physical comfort in dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Don’t try to do too much. Allow others to do for you. Take time to be with family, friends, etc. Work and other commitments can wait. Your brain will not have much ability to focus anyway. Be gentle with yourself. You may need to sleep more or just stare out a window for longer than you would normally. These are not normal times for you or your loved ones.
Depending on the wishes of the family there will need to be arrangements made for a funeral or celebration of life. It is good if the person who is dying has a say in what they want. If they do take their input and use as much of it as you can. It is good to make as many of the arrangements ahead of time.
The goal is to make the death and dying process as complete as possible. By saying everything that you want to say, sharing your feelings, etc. you are setting into motion a process that will move you along the journey of grief.
By starting the grief process you will find, in time, a lessening of the pain of the loss and more joy returning. You will be able to recall the good times with that loved one and hold them close in your memory so that they will remain close to you for the rest of your life.