Guest Author - Rev. Jaclin Meade Scott
The title question that prompts this article was sent in by a reader. It prompts kudos for the person even thinking about doing that.
The seriously ill and dying get to be quite lonely at the end. Itís human nature to avoid such situations. We like things very neat and fresh smelling. The fear that a visit may not be so can be numbing. Mostly, though, itís our own fear of our mortality. People really should get over themselves and tough it out. To be with someone on that final journey is a very, very holy time. Ask anyone who has done it.
Remember back in the day that no one would have thought to attend a birth, even if it had been allowed? Now the videos are up on the internet. Many regret missing the births they did, and are grateful to be part of this miracle. Some day, please God, it will be so for dying.
Back to the question. What to talk about?
If your friend is still responsive, the greatest gift is your time. To have you listen is so meaningful. To have you not shy away from ANY subject your friend brings up is a miracle. They need to talk about their situation. They may want your opinion on some things. Others have rejected the subject matter. In turn, your friend has felt rejected. So the unconditional friendship you can show liberates them, calms them, and they really, really appreciate it.
You will never be the same.
If your friend is unresponsive, then do chat, quietly, slowly. Please, turn off the television unless it is their favorite program. Itís quite irritating. Any topic is okay, but try to focus on the personís interests. Talk about church, their favorite team. Read the newspaper to them. Recall favorite times together. Hearing is the last sense lost, so this is a marvelous opportunity. Donít hesitate to express your feelings. Hereís a partial list of suggestions:
Play their favorite music
Read to them something theyíd enjoy Ė a religious book, a humor writer, newspaper, a magazine
Go through photos, tell what you see, and how it relates to them
Bring your needlework
Sort through your recipes while talking about them
Read their mail to them
Moisten their lips
Lotion arms and hands, using care around IVs
Touch is very important at a time like this. Your hand gently rubbing the back, resting lightly on a shoulder, softly touching an arm. If the person is unresponsive, handholding is encouraged. Moistening the lips, a cool cloth on the face Ė all little things that are usually so welcome.
Blessings upon you for doing this. You are brave and wonderful. Share your experiences with others when you are ready. As more people regain this holy part of life, we get closer to