Death and dying are difficult topics to speak about. However, it’s best to not ignore what’s truly happening, with a dying loved one.
The article by Merritt Whittley, offers the following:
Guidance on possible things to say or do -
Ask how they’re doing.
Ask what they need.
Let them know you’re there.
Don’t forget to say, “I love you”.
Write words of comfort in a letter.
Encourage loved ones to share.
Be honest, kind, and open.
Things to avoid saying to someone who is dying -
Don’t give false assurances.
Don’t force a conversation.
Don’t force religion if your loved one is not religious.
Make peace with yourself and your loved one
Please, if you are given the opportunity to be with the dying, be available to converse with them, if they have a desire to do so.
A Necessary Conversation can help the family to start engaging in such conversations, and to learn skills to navigate this emotional journey.
Shoshana Ungerleider writes about the "new normal" with death and grieving in todays pandemic.
"Our frontline responders are now the last in-person human connection patients are with, while their families are left without needed closure".
Although I don't feel there is ever a true "closure" for grief (time tends to soften the pain), the isolation that we are feeling right now, especially in grief, is profound.
The article provides some suggestions to help ease some of the pain through grief isolation - such as:
Hold a living funeral
Create an online memorial
Have a virtual funeral
Attend an online candlelight vigil
I'd also like to suggest calling local "grief support groups" as some of them are holding virtual groups, which helps to connect those in grief.
Covid-19 is a strong reminder of the importance of having an Advance Directive (AD).
Take this opportunity to think about what is important to you and what your wishes are..
Based on your wishes, it's imperative to put your health care decisions in writing. This way, if there is an emergency, the doctors, your family and your health care agent will know what your wishes are.
"What gives you joy and meaning in life? What makes you get out of bed in the morning? The answer is different for everyone — sometimes wildly so — which is why it's important to have your own answers to apply to the circumstances you might find yourself in".
Be proactive and empower yourself with knowledge. Assign a Health Care Agent to follow your wishes and have many conversations with family members so there is no confusion.
The coronavirus has brought death and dying to the forefront ~ we can no longer deny it. In addition to, the fear of dying alone ~ because of the pandemic ~ is becoming a "second epidemic".
"For many older people, that is the true signature of the virus: not the fear of dying, but the fear of dying alone".
Please be mindful of both of your, and your loved ones, varying emotions during this time. Take the time to communicate now and talk about what others may be feeling ~ especially the elderly.
"As described in our Natural Grief Responses info sheet, grief is experienced in a variety of ways. During this period of physical separation, you may find your grief impacted differently".
In this article, by Madelaine Goodreau, LCSW, Our House Grief Support Center, she writes that the social distancing we are currently experiencing, is possibly affecting the way you grieve.
Check out the tips Madelaine gives about checking in with your self during this time of social distancing and grief..