Yesterday, I woke up thinking about a conversation with a friend. She was expressing regrets for not having more “end-of-life” conversations with her father before he passed. This is not uncommon. Reflecting back on my work with end-of-life families, it is normal for family members to think maybe they should have focused less on the medical or physical symptoms. While this is understandable, and sometimes necessary, they wonder if, instead, they should have focused on just being with their loved one and talking about shared memories. Discussing where their loved one’s life had purpose and meaning.
What I have observed most in my work with end-of-life patients is this: If the person passing knew he or she was loved, and the family knew they did their best, this makes for a peaceful passing and helps with bereavement.
Sometimes, doing all you can means sitting with someone and not doing anything at all—just being present. While I am an advocate for end-of-life conversations, sometimes the person or family may not want to have that conversation. Some want to leave this world never really facing that they are going to die. And who am I to say that, in some cases, denial is not a good thing as passing may just be too painful to face. However, this still doesn’t mean we can’t show love, be present with loved ones and help them understand that their life was a life worth living.