It can be a scary moment when you come to the realization that your time with a loved one is coming to an end. Whether you consciously admit it or not, deep down you know that your loved one's days left are limited. How do you act with them? What do you say to them? Do you talk openly about death?
Be a Shoulder To Lean On
When a loved one is diagnosed with something serious or age is starting to bare its teeth; the harsh reality that life is short becomes crystal clear. Whatever the relationship you have with the loved one is, one thing is important, that you be there for them emotionally. It can seem like the topic of death is the elephant in the room considering your loved one is approaching the end of their life. Don’t force conversations about death and mortality on them, however, steering the conversation to the topic of mortality is important for many reasons.
It can be scary discussing your own mortality, which is why they should be the one to approach the subject. Communication about these issues can help them alleviate anxiety and mentally prepare them for making end of life arrangements. Sometime just listening to them talk about their worries is the best therapy for them and can help make the whole process much less stressful for them.
If It Isn't Broke, Don't Fix It
What better way is there to spend your remaining time in life than to do the things that you always loved doing. The only responsibility that you have is to support your loved one emotionally and to try and ease their suffering in whatever ways you can. Depending on your relationship with them, it is also good to have an idea of what the person wants to do with their possessions when they die; which is why it might be advisable to gently suggest having a will written up for practical reasons. Check out our article on Talking to Your Parents About Their Last Will for tips on approaching this difficult and awkward conversation.
All things considered, your role is simple. Be there for the person. Whether you are a husband, wife, father, daughter, son, cousin, or friend, there is a reason why you are in their life. Let them know that they are important to you not just through words but through actions.