Saying goodbye to a dying loved one

Posted by AK Lander | On November 11, 2016 08:34

Saying goodbye to a dying loved one isn’t easy and not knowing what to say is more common not. Here is what to say if you’re in that situation.



Saying goodbye to a dying loved one can be the most hurtful experience for anyone, especially when there was a long-standing connection between the two individuals. There are no specific ways in which the situation should be approached, especially when you are faced with it unexpectedly, but that doesn’t mean you should be put off from saying how you truly feel towards the person you love.

No one wants to be in the position where you are by your loved ones bedside, knowing that the end is near, but wishing to reverse reality. Just as the Huffington Post explains, sometimes just being in their presence speaks a thousand words, as during the age of busy day-to-day lifestyles many people can’t spend a significant amount of time with the people in their life. If you know that your loved one won’t be around for long, preparing for the outcome by enjoying the present moment can take off a lot of the strain when it is your time to grieve, whether that be taking your loved one for walks, sharing memories through photo albums, or simply talking to them about your life and all the good times that you have shared together. This way you will never regret any of the time you spent in the last months or days together.

As well as this, it is often worth writing a few things down on a piece of paper that you know you may forget when visiting your loved one in person. It is not unusual to forget the important and personal things to say when you find yourself in this position, but also don’t put any pressure on yourself to try and fit everything into one visit, sometimes your loved one will appreciate you being there just as much as the conversation.

Sometimes people prefer to have something to go by in terms of handling the situation in their own way, which may be talking to a sibling or relative in confidence. For those who would like a little guidance when it comes to saying goodbye to a dying loved one, below are some ways in which you can approach the moments that will be held in a significant place in your heart.


Remember to be truthful, yet kind


Many people find that making peace with the past is the first thing on their list when their loved one is lying beside them. This is important, but don’t force the conversation if it really isn’t the right time as this can cause disturbance and sometimes irritability by the other individual, which is the last thing you want to do. Instead, if you really feel the need to apologise for past mistakes, then do so in a kind manner, when you know that it won’t upset or cause more tension than is needed.


Listen to your loved one


Listening is sometimes a lot more considerate than taking the lead on the conversation, especially in this particular circumstance. When we find ourselves in a position where we know there is an inevitable ending, we rush and stress to complete what we should have done beforehand. However, in this case, you cannot try and control the situation, you need to let life take its toll.

As for this, it is important that you take the time to listen to your loved one and understand their feelings, wants and needs at this time of their life. This could be about looking back on their successful life and going through the best bits. On the other hand, they may want to discuss their will, funeral arrangements or where to buy memorial headstones. This way you know that they are in a comfortable place, without others trying to control the situation around them. They will very much appreciate having someone listening to them, and they will be grateful to you for giving your ears, when it can be a lonely time for all parties.


Be yourself


More often than not, painful and sad situations in life will lead us to react to the situation in different ways, whether that be isolating yourself from the outside, turning to different stimuli to ignore what is happening, or putting on a ‘happy’ mask to cover the hurt you feel inside. Good Life Death Grief say: “Try not to worry about saying the wrong thing – the chances of doing so are slim.” As much as it hurts, it is better to be yourself. This will allow you to accept the situation for what it is, instead of hiding from reality and missing the most important moments you may regret later down the line.


Always keep to their wishes


The act of being respectful is the least you can give to someone when they only have a short time left on earth, and keeping to their wishes is one of the best ways to do just that. Sometimes people will fight their loved ones’ decisions and wishes because they feel as though the individual deserves more in the short time they have. Just like listening to the individual, making sure they are in a place where they feel respected and cared for is one of the top priorities when in their position, so do whatever they wish to make their last living opportunities memorable for you and them.


Don’t forget to say ‘I love you’


Last but very not least is the importance of saying “I love you” to your loved one. It is easy to forget the most important things in this situation, but nothing is as powerful of declaring how much the individual means to you in three simple words.

Dying Matters quite rightly points out: “Above all, don’t be hard on yourself. This is a very difficult and challenging time. Phone calls to friends, family and care providers, and visits to the dying person quickly become part of your daily life, and the dying process can seem grindingly endless.


“But remember that in comparison to the dying person’s life-span, their dying process is usually a short, precious time for you, and for them.”