On Visiting a Dying Friend

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, July 10, 2023

When a close friend or family member is dying, many people feel conflicted about going to visit them. On one hand, it can be a good idea to go and show your support, or to say goodbye. On the other hand, it can be incredibly difficult to see your loved one in such a condition. This article will discuss some of these conflicting feelings, as well as what you should say when visiting a loved one on their deathbed. 

Anxiety About Visiting

The most common reason for this anxiousness is the fear of saying goodbye. Unfortunately, death is a part of life that we must all eventually face, It can be difficult to have that final conversation with your loved one, but you will probably feel worse if you miss it completely. It is common for people to feel guilty if they weren’t there to say goodbye. It may be hard, but it is important to go and see them one last time. Just you being there for them can be a comfort in their final days.

What to Talk About

Some people may feel uncertain about what to talk about with the dying individual. Sometimes it’s just enough to be there to listen. It is common to talk about memories or better times with them, but this can leave you both feeling upset. Just be there and engage them as a friend. Try to have a conversation with them like you’ve done countless times before. It is OK to cry and to be there for them if they cry. Hold their hand and let them vent. They are going through a scary and overwhelming process. Do your best to be there for them, and support them as best as you can. 

Saying Goodbye

It is important to say your goodbyes before it’s too late. If you wait until the very end to talk with them, you may miss your chance. It can be incredibly difficult to have this conversation. And it will probably hurt a lot. But you’ll feel good about it down the line. It is better to say your goodbyes before you miss the opportunity to do so. You may feel uneasy overall, but your friend will appreciate you being there for them. 

Not Being Able to Say Goodbye

Unfortunately, you may not be able to say goodbye. Many people in the past year have lost loved ones without being able to visit them in the hospital. Sometimes, long distances prevent us from seeing them on their deathbed. If possible, try to communicate with them in other ways, such as through a phone call, letter, or video chat. If you are unable to say goodbye to them at all, it can be helpful to write down your feelings, even if no one else reads them. Grief journaling can be a good way to release those emotions in a healthy and constructive way.

Grief, Before and After

When a loved one is on their deathbed, it is common to feel immense grief, regret, and even helplessness. These feelings are perfectly normal. You may have more time to prepare yourself for their passing, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. Reach out to another friend or loved one for support if you need help. You may also want to consider visiting a grief counselor to help you better understand your grief. There are many support groups for friends and family of the terminally ill, which may provide you with guidance or a sense of community when you are feeling alone in your grief.

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here

For almost 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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