What Not To Say
- Let us not make assumptions that they are dying, or that it is their time to go. Or that they will get well. Let the situation guide you. Go slowly, sensitively.
- This is a time for intimacy, but we must be careful how we are there. Some pray for inner guidance \or ask others, check it out with ones own internal self or get in touch with ones intuitive self and common sense to guide them. Or just be very perceptive to the situation, noting fluttering of the eye lashes, slight pulling away, leaning into you, slight smile or grimace to let us know are we doing or saying thing that are most helpful.
- Risk, tentatively, as being there for the dying and for those critically ill is a risk. We are in a scarey time, but a time we can do great good. Go slow but with courage to reassure another, talk, touch or just be there. There is a good chance afterwards you will feel unsure about whether you did or did not do the right thing. But we must try so no one need be alone in this most difficult time.
- Forgive yourself no matter what.
- Be grateful to yourself for you willingness to go to the bedside and do the best you can.
- Hearing can be acute even when one is too ill to respond.
My experienceI went to see a young woman at the request of friends. She was in Intensive Care Unit. I understood she was close to the end of her life. She appeared to be unconscious. I spoke with her as I usually do as though she could hear me, introducing myself and telling her I would be there for a short visit. There was no indication she could hear me but I always talk as though I am heard. I bent over the railing and after spending time with her, telling her she was safe, loved, and singing softly, I carefully told her, "It might be getting close, and it is OK to go." Many times people need to hear that as one can hold on to life for a long time if they feel at some level that they are letting family down by dying.
Several months later I was told by friends who knew us both that she was furious at my visit and what I said. Right, she had recovered and lived another couple of years. She felt and rightly so, I was being heart breakingly negative, making assumptions and that it was not my place to say that even if it were true.
I had not talked with her family and did not know her that well to have such an intimate "conversation".
What I did could have been the right thing in many other situations. It was the wrong thing with this woman.
I saw her later, deeply apologized and it was not accepted. She had every right to be angry on a number of different levels. I am grateful for her recovery. She needed encouragement in her getting well.