Chapter 4: Conversations at the end of life

Talking with the dying person

I have discovered both old and new ways of being with my husband at the bedside. Sometimes it is a small act, like reading to him from one of our favourite books. We have been doing that since our honeymoon.

  • Some people speak openly about their illness or death. Others do not. Some go back and forth.
  • Some people enjoy a lot of visits. Others want only a few visitors.
  • Some are involved in decisions about their care. Others want family members to speak for them.

Consider ways to build memories that will help the family cope in the future. Talking about events from the past, or other things that may be on their mind, can help the dying person contribute meaningfully to the family.

Rather than force the dying person to discuss their death or illness, invite them to talk if they would like. Respecting the way a person wants to die, and their need to end a conversation, is respectful and supportive.