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Tips On What To Say To Someone Who Is Dying

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Death is a topic that many people avoid talking about, especially with a family member. And that’s a shame really, because it leaves us completely unprepared for what to do or say when the dying process does happen.

My life experiences have taught me that most people who are nearing the end of life appreciate honest conversation and support from their loved ones. It’s a difficult time for everyone.

It’s a normal part of the dying process to experience fear and anxiety. What you say to someone who is dying can help them feel more comfortable and at ease.

Listening is one of the most important things you can do for someone who’s dying. When the right words fail, being an active listener is a good way to comfort them and make their last days a little more bearable. Make the time together all about them.

Know that there is no right or wrong way to communicate with a dying person. The most important thing is to be honest, open, and respectful.

It’s okay to cry. In fact, crying together can be a bonding experience and can help release some of the sadness and tension you both may be feeling.

If your loved one has entered into hospice care, the social worker and nurses there can certainly help you as well. They provide end of life care but also help family and friends through the process too.

Here are some tips to help you talk to a loved one who is dying :

  • Acknowledge the situation. It’s okay to say that you don’t know what to say. Just being there with the person during their final days can be a great comfort.
  • Express your love and concern. The best thing is to let them know that you care about them and are here for them.
  • Actively listen. As I said before, listening to your dying friend or family member is extremely important at this time. Make eye contact, sit close to them, lean in towards them, etc.
  • Talk about happy memories. This can help them feel connected to the good times they’ve had in their life.
  • Be honest about your feelings. It’s okay to have open conversations and express your sadness, anger, or fear. Whether it’s family or close friends, you want them to know how much you have cherished their presence in your life.
  • Offer forgiveness if needed. Some relationships are very rocky and there may be some unfinished business. If both parties are willing, this can be a time to try to work things out and make peace with each other. This can also give each of you a sense of peace about your relationship.
  • Prepare for the end. This is a difficult conversation, but it’s important to talk about practical matters like funeral arrangements. It can help give the dying person a sense of control and may help ease some of the burden on loved ones after they’re gone.
  • Offer practical help. If there’s anything you can do to make the person more comfortable, let them know. It could be their favorite food or movie, funny stories, etc.
  • Respect the person’s wishes. If they don’t want to talk about certain things, respect their wishes.
  • Say goodbye. The right thing to do is to make sure you say your goodbyes. This can be a difficult thing to do, but it can also be very healing.

Also, if they have slipped into a coma or become unconscious, continue speaking to them.

It is common for people to go into a state of unconsciousness near the end of their lives. Keep up the conversation. It has been found that hearing is a vital part of a person’s overall well-being. So read to your loved one, sing songs, tell stories. The sound of love should fill the air around your loved one.

myallamericanhospice.com

I worked with many seniors in their final days of life and I would tell their family and friends to play their loved one’s favorite music for them. It’s wonderful palliative care for the dying patient.

Music thanatology can help with symptoms like respiratory distress, pain, restlessness and agitation. It can provide support when a patient is actively dying or being taken off life support. The music vigil is a calm, peaceful space where patients and families can rest together, process emotions and, at times, make meaning of a difficult transition.

nextavenue.org

If your loved one is a history buff, tell them stories about the past or read to them from their favorite book. You could also simply sit with them in silence, letting them know that you are there for them and that they are not alone.

And for anyone who may be interested in some spiritual support, don’t be shy about reaching out to a chaplain, priest, rabbi or spiritual leader.

How To Talk To Someone Who Is Terminally Ill

Let’s face it, talking to a loved one who is terminally ill is not easy. You may feel like you are walking on eggshells, not wanting to upset the person or make them feel worse. These are very normal reactions.

However, the best way to comfort someone with a terminal diagnosis is to be honest, open and loving.

People, particularly the elderly, often reach a point in the course of their illness where they’d rather focus on quality of life and enjoying the time they have with their family and friends. That being said, sometimes speaking to them about topics you would normally is a great way to start.

mjhs.org

Here are some tips on how to talk to someone who is terminally ill:

  • Respect their wishes. If they don’t want to talk about certain things, acknowledge it and honor it.
  • Tell them you love them. This is one of the most important things you can say.
  • Acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared, sad, or angry.
  • Offer support. Offer to help with anything they may need, whether it’s practical help or just being a shoulder to cry on.
  • Be patient. The person may not be able to process everything all at once, so be patient and let them take their time.

Being honest and open is key when talking to someone who has a terminal diagnosis. It can be a difficult conversation, but it’s important to communicate with them and let them know that you’re there for them.

So whether you get to see them in person or speak to them over a phone call or even just write to them, these tips can help you give your loved one what a dying person needs.

What To Say To Someone Whose Elderly Parent Is Dying?

Another situation that can be difficult to know what to say is when someone’s parent is dying. You might be worried about saying the wrong thing or making them feel worse.

Here are some tips on what to say (and what not to say) to someone in this situation:

  • Don’t try to downplay the situation or tell them it’ll all be okay. While you may mean well, this can come across as insensitive and dismissive of their feelings.
  • Do offer your support and tell them you’re there for them. Let them know you’re available to talk or help out in any way they need.
  • Don’t try to give advice or tell them what they should do. It’s not your place, and they may not be ready or willing to listen to anything you have to say anyway.
  • Do express your love for them. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Whether you tell them directly or show it through your actions, let them know that you care about them and want to be there for them.
  • Don’t avoid talking about death. It’s a natural and inevitable part of life, and they may need to talk about it in order to come to terms with it.
  • Do listen to what they have to say. They may want to talk about their fears, regrets, or memories. Just be a good listener and try to understand what they’re going through.
  • Don’t try to fix everything. There’s nothing you can do to change the situation, so instead just focus on being there for them.
  • Do offer words of comfort. Even if you don’t have all the answers, some comforting words can go a long way. Just let them know that you’re there for them and that you care.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. It’s okay to cry or be sad along with them. In fact, it may even help them to see that you’re grieving too.
  • Do try to stay positive. This isn’t always easy, but it can be helpful for both of you if you focus on the good memories and try to find some silver linings.
  • Don’t avoid the subject. It’s important to talk about what’s happening and to give them a chance to express their feelings. It’s also good for you to express your own emotions as well.
  • Do be patient. They may not always be able to communicate clearly, but just be patient and listen.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’s better to say something like “I’ll do my best” rather than promising them that you’ll be there for everything.
  • Do offer practical help. If they need help with things like medical appointments or financial matters, see if you can lend a hand.
  • Don’t be afraid to cry. It’s okay to show your emotions. In fact, it might even help them feel better to know that you’re grieving too.
  • Do say goodbye. It’s important to have that final conversation, even if it’s just to say “I love you” one last time.

What NOT To Say To Someone Who Is Dying

There are a few things you should avoid saying to someone who is dying.

  • First, don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’s better to say something like “I’ll do my best” rather than promising them that you’ll be there for everything.
  • Second, don’t offer false hope. Telling them that everything will be alright or that they’re going to get better can give them false hope and make their situation seem worse.
  • Finally, avoid platitudes. Phrases like “it was meant to be” or “everything happens for a reason” can come off as insensitive and won’t really help the person in their time of need.

Here are some phrases to avoid saying to someone who is dying:

“It’s all going to be okay.”

This might be your natural instinct, but it’s important to remember that you don’t know what the future holds. Making this promise could just end up causing more pain if things don’t go the way you expect.

“I’m here for you no matter what.”

While this is a lovely sentiment, it’s important to be honest about your capabilities. If you’re not sure you can handle watching someone you love die, it’s better to be upfront about it.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

This might be true, but it’s not always helpful to hear when you’re in the midst of pain. It can come across as insensitive and dismissive.

“I know how you feel.”

You might think you understand what your loved one is going through, but you can’t truly know unless you’ve been in their shoes. It’s better to say something like, “I can’t imagine how you’re feeling, but I’m here for you.”

“You’re so strong.”

Telling someone they’re strong can be interpreted as telling them they shouldn’t feel what they’re feeling . It’s OK for your loved one to show weakness.

“It’s all part of God’s plan.”

If the person you are speaking to is an atheist, you would probably not say anything religious or spiritual but even for others, this phrase can come across as insensitive. A better way to provide comfort is to say something like, “I’m praying for you.”

What To Write To Someone Who Is Dying

If you are unable to speak to someone who is near the end of their life or you find that it’s simply too difficult for you, then you may decide to write something and send it to them.

This can be a difficult task, as you will want to make sure that what you write is heartfelt and provides some comfort.

You want to express your gratitude for their contributions to your life and your well being.

It’s also a good idea to let them know that you will keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Here are some tips on what to write to someone who is dying:

  • I am grateful for everything you have done for me. You have been a great friend, mentor, and role model. I will never forget your kindness, support, and love.
  • I am so sorry that you are going through this. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
  • I will never forget the times we shared together. You have always been a special person in my life. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
  • Your strength and courage are an inspiration to us all. I know you will fight until the very end. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Many of these recommendations are the same for each of these different situations but the idea is to basically be there for your loved one, without judgment and opinion. In the long run, this will help them (and you) through this very difficult time.

At the end of the day, what will matter most is that you show your love and appreciation for the person who is dying.

Some Books That May Help

This book is a must-read for those who are close to someone who is dying. It provides clear guidance on what to expect in the final weeks of life, based on the author’s years of experience working with patients and their families. This information can help you make decisions about care and provide support to your loved one during this difficult time.


When someone is dying, it’s important that we know how to talk to them and their families. This guide provides practical tips on what to say, what not to say, and how to support those who are grieving.

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