Chapter 4: Conversations at the end of life

Your final talk

I've been there
Bonnie talks about finding healing in the last words.(3:22)Video transcript

Many people will avoid having the final conversation with someone who is dying. This is understandable, but this last talk can be comforting to both you and the dying person.

Think about what you need to say. Dr. Ira Byock, a palliative care leader, wrote about four simple but important things you can say:

  • “Please forgive me.”
  • “I forgive you.”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “I love you.”
These statements can strengthen or repair our relationship with the dying person. They can also be an investment in our future well-being.

When the last words hurt

Sometimes, the last thing we hear from a person who is dying is destructive. Try not to be insulted or angry if the person is delirious.

If you are preoccupied with some hurtful statements, think about seeking support from a friend, a support group, or a professional.