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How to Say Goodbye to Someone You Love Who Is Dying

When it's time to say goodbye to someone you love, make their last days peaceful by letting them know you're there in ways that will provide comfort to both of you.


  • TIP: Research has indicated that, contrary to general perception, near-death awareness is seldom caused by medications or dementia.
  • Step 1: Accept whatever emotion dominates at any moment, including humor, instead of trying to maintain a somber atmosphere. For those who believe in life after death, this is a time to celebrate a life with loving attention, stories, laughter, and song.
  • Step 2: Hug them instead of straining to say the right thing. Spend time touching, stroking an arm, kissing, and holding hands. Hum a song, read from a holy book, or recite a poem. Loving silence, though, might be better express your love than anything you put into words.
  • FACT: According to the National Funeral Directors' Association, the average American funeral in 2006, not including burial plot, flowers, and other costs, was $6,195.
  • Step 3: Limit the number of people in the room, taking turns coming in and out, to avoid crowding them. Repeat everyone's names to the one dying, to reassure them everyone is there and will be by their side when the time comes.
  • Step 4: Turn off the brain and be with them, present in the moment, instead of trying to over think each last second as it unfolds. Let it happen and let it go, just as you're telling them to do. Keep a sense of calm and enjoy your time together.
  • Step 5: Share all the love in your heart, even if you think they can't hear or understand. Don't put off letting them know -- if you wait and miss your opportunity, it could become a lifetime regret.
  • TIP: If there's still some time, leave a legacy with a recording or short video summarizing the beauty of their life.
  • Step 6: Recognize the moment is coming and give them your permission to go by cooperating with whatever symbolic or evasive language they feel comfortable using. They may want to talk about projects they have to finish, people they have to call, or places they still mean to go. Indulge them.
  • Step 7: Comfort them about unresolved family conflicts, being sensitive to their need to know all those they love are finally in harmony. Tell a white lie so they can feel settled and find peace.
  • Step 8: Put aside your worries about what will happen to you after they're gone. This is your loved one's time, so don't burden them by falling apart. Discuss your fears with other members of the family.

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