Chapter 1: When death happens

When loved ones are unable to be there

The expert says
Description to come(3:22)Video transcript

I was devasted when I arrived at the hospital and learned I had missed my mother’s death by half an hour. I had wanted to tell her I loved her just one more time and to thank her for all her years of dedication to me and the kids. It was not fair that I missed her.

Sometimes family members cannot be present as death nears, and they may feel guilty about this. It may help to remind them that their connection is meaningful through thought and spirit, and not physical proximity. Whether they are just outside the room, in a different city, or a different country, the physical distance between them does not diminish the closeness that they feel.

Below are a few more situations that may happen. Click on each tab for more details or suggestions.

Died before family arrived

Sometimes family members arrive just a few minutes after death occurs. It is reasonable in such situations to sit down at the bedside, perhaps holding the hand of the person who died, and say whatever feels right.

Died alone

Families who have diligently held vigil by the bedside may be upset that the death occurred when they briefly stepped away. Although we cannot truly know if people can wait for a moment of privacy and solitude to die, this possibility may be comforting.

Waited to die

Sometimes it seems as if a person waited for a specific time or the arrival of someone they care about