It is not easy to know that anyone is dying, but when that person happens to be the foundation of your life it is tragic, to say the least. However, if you happen to find yourself one of the lucky ones that are able to be present throughout the process try to keep in mind a few things.
For one, the dying process is never easy and will wear on the emotional state of each involved. That includes the one who is dying as well as loved ones and friends.
Of course each situation is different, but for this topic we will focus on personal experience with my father’s death.
As I traveled to visit my dad that final time, I knew things had gotten bad. Driving the 1,200 or so miles to his and mom's home gave me time to process things and prepare myself.
With dad bedridden and not always coherent it made it difficult to communicate. But I was determined to treat him with the same respect as always and not patronize him because of his state.
Too many times I have watched as well-meaning loved ones or friends, as well as professionals, talk to the elderly and dying as a child. Sometimes this is not what they need.
Granted, there are times when fears and physical issues need to be addressed with specific tone that models that of speaking to a child. However, I have found that talking to your loved one or patient on the same level as if they were well is extremely important.
In this case, dad did not like to be coddled and treated as if less than whom he was. He and I related naturally and pointedly made daily, less-than-dignified tasks normality.
This is one of the most important aspects of how to handle watching a loved one die. If you can focus on keeping things positive and keeping your emotions to a minimum, both you and the dying will have a stronger ability to make it through.
Specifically, if you are feeling a need to cry, please do not over-exercise this well deserved emotion. It is very upsetting for the dying to hear, see, or feel your distraught state.
The dying may already be having trouble letting go of their physical presence on this earth, so it is imperative to not give them more hesitance to letting go. Passing on peacefully is the goal of most and if we can keep the atmosphere as such the dying will benefit greatly.
Remember as well that the last function to leave this earthly vessel is hearing. Speak only encouraging and reassuring words. In the case of my father it helped me to let him know I would be making sure certain things were taken care of after he had gone.
In letting him know that there are no worries left for him, I was able to free myself of wondering what else could be said. Many times, those that are dying may not only fear the act of dying itself, but also fear what will happen to those they love whom remain.
As a firm believer in saying goodbyes, several of dad’s family had the opportunity to do so while he was still coherent. But please save your intense mourning for after the death occurrence.
Grand displays of emotional sobbing do not allow for the dying to feel peace. Save your grief for after their final breath.
Believing in life not ending with the bodies passing is probably one of the biggest ideals that will assist in deciding how to handle watching a loved one die.
And when death finally occurs take relief in mourning. With the passing of someone so dear it is imperative that you allow yourself time to grieve. Though we all do this differently, finding an outlet for your loss is of utmost priority.
Though not much comfort now, life does go on and you will get through this.