Saying goodbye is not easy. Yet, it is important for you and the dying person to do so. People who are dying sometimes want those who love them to give them ‘permission’ to say goodbye.
They may need to be assured that:
- They are loved.
- Mistakes and misunderstandings have been forgiven.
- Things they were once responsible for will be taken care of.
- Their loved ones will manage without them.
- Their life had meaning.
- They will be remembered.
What you can do:
Hold the person’s hand and recall a pleasant memory that you have. Think of what that person has meant to you and share that with them. It helps them to know that their life has had meaning. It may help you too. You won’t have to say later “I never told them how much they meant to me.” You may want to ask the person’s forgiveness for any harm or hurt you may have caused over the years. Or you may want to say something like, “You know I forgive you for any harm or hurt that you caused me.” Put it in your own words.
Sometimes we need to give people ‘permission’ to die by saying gently ‘just relax and let go or something similar.
In some cultures, specific prayers or rituals may ease the passage to death. These may be comforting to you as well as to the dying person. You may want to ask a member of the Pastoral Care Team for assistance.
Realise your limitations. No one can do everything. Take time out when you need it. Get help when you need it.
If you have any concerns about your loved one’s condition, talk to a staff member away from the bedside.