Chapter 3: Conversations as the disease progresses


Goodbye . . .

When your loved one is nearing death, if you have the opportunity, try to end each conversation in a way that will be okay if it is the last time you speak. Casual goodbyes like, “See you later gator,” or “I’ve got to run, so bye for now,” may leave you wishing you had said something different, or it may be the way you and the person have always said goodbye and that’s ok too. Your goodbyes don’t need to be mushy. Just say goodbye in a way that lets the person know that they will always be important to you.

If you are leaving for a longer time and are unlikely to see the person again, your goodbye may be more emotional. You might acknowledge openly that you don’t know whether you’ll be with each other again. Try to say what needs to be said. Remind the person again what they mean to you.


Touch talks too

When you talk with a person who is dying, you touch each other with your words. When words are no longer necessary or possible, you can still connect through touch. Placing your hand gently on the person’s hand, shoulder, or head can be a tender way of saying, “I am here. You are not alone.”

Continue to talk to the person even when they are no longer able to respond to you. The dying person will sense your presence and hear your voice.