Friends and relatives frequently find themselves faced with the difficult task of discussing death with a dying loved one and are uncertain how much information to share. Due to cultural or personal beliefs, family members may be unable to recognize or discuss death. According to some, notifying a dying loved one of his impending death will snuff out any hope and may even hasten his demise. As a result, how many details should you share with a loved one who is dying?
Death's Critical Functions
The human spirit is unmatched in its grit. While we frequently wish to protect those we love from pain and sorrow, the protection we provide can occasionally backfire. While it may appear to be a good idea to "protect" a loved one from learning the truth about their condition, withholding information can result in discontent and disappointment. Unfinished business may be by a person who dies without completing the critical tasks associated with dying.
When someone is aware that they are dying, they have five critical tasks to complete:
Apologize for prior inaccuracies
Permit others to make errors.
Appreciate those who matter most.
Say "I love you" to those who matter to them.
If your loved one is not allowed to complete these worthwhile tasks, he or she may die with unfinished business.
There Is Hope at the End of Life
I've heard it said that someone facing certain death is incapable of hope. However, I assure you that terminally ill patients do have hope. An individual who is terminally sick possesses an incredible capacity for hope. He may not wish for a cure or an additional decade, but he may want to say his final goodbyes to family and friends and die peacefully at home. He may wish for a miracle cure but should prepare for the worst-case scenario.
Keeping secrets about death from someone approaching the end may deprive him of the chance to re-evaluate and fulfill his hopes.
Mr. H was a cancer patient nearing the end of his life who had a passion for sports cars. He had always desired but lacked the financial means to own a Ferrari. When he realized his demise was inevitable, he clung to the hope of riding in a Ferrari, even if he was unable to drive one. Mr. H was seated in the passenger seat during the Ferrari test drive arranged by the hospice agency. Mr. H was able to reassess his hopes after learning he was dying, and knowing he didn't have enough time left strengthened his resolve to see them fulfilled.
He Is Conscious That He Is Dying
Numerous individuals believe they can conceal their impending death from a family member or friend.
Dying is a natural process that requires the participation of the body. Like how a woman in labor intuitively recognizes a child's impending birth, a dying person intuitively recognizes his or her impending death. Even if he does not discuss his impending death with you, he is aware of it/
Certain ethnic and familial cultures avoid discussing death, which your loved one may be doing to honor you. He may have concluded from his loved ones that no one wants to acknowledge or discuss death and chose to protect them by doing the same.
At this point, death becomes the unwelcome elephant in the room. Although everyone is aware of its presence, nobody acknowledges it. Family discussions can then devolve into awkward and superficial exchanges that never reach a point of intimacy. The critical task of mending and concluding relationships is abandoned.
Deliberating on the End
Death is never an easy subject to broach. Many of us cringe when the words "death" or "dying" are mentioned. It's even more awkward to discuss it with a loved one who is going through it. If you've decided to have an open conversation with a loved one about death, you can find some helpful resources below.