Losing a loved one is never an easy life event. The cycle of life’s dramatic end can be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually taxing on both the one passing and on family and friends left behind. Feeling all of the emotions of sadness in the present are perfectly okay and are expected human nature.
Leading up to the final last breath, there are measures that family and friends can do to make the experience more comfortable. Not only are these practices a way for the passing to experience more peace, it also allows for family to better cope prior, during, and after the loss. Here are some practices and terms of etiquette to consider during this time.
One of the most influential actions you can do during this time just before your loved one is expected to pass away is to be in the present moment; be present with them. If your loved one is drifting in and out of consciousness they still maybe very alert to what is happening around them. To be by one’s side during their last moments is to pay recognition and honor letting them know that their life mattered before they expire. Some people who have suffered a stroke may be on medication to sedate the pain as their body succumbs to the result of the shock of the stroke. They are still alert. They can still hear you even though they may not be able to move. Before the health of a loved one progresses to that moment, you should come to terms and peace with that loved one. If you have anything to say, any regrets or affirmations, now is the time to express it, not when they are gone.
You can help create a living memorial. Modern technology has allowed us to recapture and digitize old photographs. Take as many of these photos from that person’s life and organize them into a slide show presentation that can be played on a loop on a screen or device. Have this presentation play, easy for the loved one to view. Not only are you providing positive images for your loved one to remember life by, you are also are putting your down time into a constructive use, which will help you cope with the passing time. Other living memorial idea you may want to consider: gathering a collection of thank you cards; where family and friends write in their card to the passing loved one their favorite memory with that person. We often have a habit to share these memories with other loved ones after the passing but never with the person of focus in the loss. After these cards are collected, have family members and friends read them to the family member who is approaching their final moments. You will be surprised at the amount of peace it will provide.
Reconnect your loved one with their faith. Regardless of religion or affiliation, your loved one deserves to have a proper blessing before leaving the physical world as we know it. For a very small donation, a priest, pastor, monk, rabbi, tribal leader, and/or mufti will be honored to grace your loved one with their last rights and a few comforting words from their associated book of faith. Having this peace in their final moments has been known to provide extra comfort to those that are passing. Usually, the same clergy staff is there to provide peaceful affirmation for the family left behind, and will make them available to perform services later.
Most people forget to have the affairs of passing in order before it happens. This in most cases creates fighting between family members over property, or how the passing loved one declared their last wishes. Some people have stipulations in their “living will” in case major organs such as the heart and brain fail before the rest of the body does. Be clear to have this paperwork read and in order. Having these documents available will not only help with the business of the passing, but will provide for a smooth transition before and after the passing has taken place. The best way to prevent any agreement or miss-direction is to prepare the conversation with the loved one well in advance before they are in their final moments.
Make sure there is a built in support structure for the family itself who is by the bedside of the loved one. Because this life event can be very taxing on people; to avoid unnecessary conflict due to the lack of sleep or meals; create a family care schedule, where members rotate in shifts. This allows for family to refresh in between the moments of being bedside, and it always provides the loved one with someone in their presence. No one likes or deserves to die alone. This will allow other family members to get sleep, meals, showers, and cope with the pain of losing that loved one, while preserving their strength for supporting the loved one bedside. Also have a phone chain prepared ahead of time to reach other loved ones when the event happens.
Today we live very busy and fast paced lives. Some faiths and religions require for the deceased to be laid to rest within 24 hours of passing. To have systems in place to inform family and friends, will save valuable time in honoring their faiths practices.
Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.