~ Final Days ~
How To Be With A Dying Person
(A guide to helping a loved one through his or her final days. By Frank Ostaseski)
Dying is much more than a medical event. It is a time for
exchanging love, for reconciliation and transformation for all
involved. It is a chance for a dying person’s loved ones to become
compassionate companions on a journey of continuous discovery.
Fear is only natural. Doubt is to be expected. Whether we are
making the bed or confined to it, we will come into contact with
the precarious nature of this life and also come to appreciate its
Each person’s death is as unique as their birth. No one technique
can fit every situation, but the following tips can serve as a
rough guide during a loved one’s final days.
Relate to the person, not the illness. Bring both your strength
and vulnerability to the bedside. It’s okay to cry. People who are
dying continue to need intimate, natural, and honest
relationships. Don’t use your role in a person’s death to downplay
or avoid that person’s suffering.
The greatest gift we can offer one another is our undivided
attention. Listen without judgment or an agenda. Be aware of
feelings and nonverbal cues. Respect the personal truths the dying
person may be discovering. Be mindful of your own inner experience
and talk about your discoveries.
Show Human Kindness
Details do matter. A cool cloth on a perspiring brow, holding the
hand of a frightened patient, listening to a lifetime of stories.
When offered with attention and love, these ordinary activities
convey caring and acceptance, build trust, and enhance
self-esteem. Trust your innate compassion and capacity to embrace
the suffering of another as your own.
Keep It Simple
Have confidence in the healing power of human presence.
Particularly in the final days, slow down and leave room for
silence. Reduce distractions. Create a calm and receptive
environment. Honor the spiritual dimensions of dying.