How-to Prepare for a Loved One’s End of Life

They may no longer recognize you, but may still draw comfort from your companionship, touch or the sound of your voice.

Each person’s emotional needs differ in the final stages of life, although some emotions are common to those nearing End of Life. Many worry about loss of control and dignity as their physical abilities decline. It is also common for patients to fear being a burden to their loved ones yet at the same time they fear being alone. Reassuring your loved one that it is okay to pass away may help both of you through this emotionally challenging process.

Late-stage caregivers or loved ones can offer emotional comfort in the following ways:

  • Provide company
    Talk to your loved one, read to them or simply sit and hold their hand
  • Promote a calm environment
    Create a soothing atmosphere; communicating through sensory experiences such as touch or singing
  • Bring small pets
    Contact with pets or therapy animals may bring comfort and pleasure, and ease transitions
  • Offer familiar remembrances
    Surrounding your loved one with pictures and mementos, reading treasured books and playing favorite music promotes dignity and comfort
  • Remain attentive
    Avoid burdening your loved one with your feelings of fear, sadness and loss; discuss your feelings privately with an appropriate listener instead
  • Listen without interruption
    Let your loved one express their fears about death without disruption; communicating fears may help them accept the reality of their End of Life
  • Allow them to reminisce
    Encourage them to recall positive life stories to help promote dignity and comfort
  • Provide information
    Include them in discussions that concern them or their care
  • Honor their wishes
    Reassure your loved one that you will honor their wishes, including legal or personal requests
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