I recently received numerous questions from a concerned person, all specifically around how to interact with a dying loved one. Although no specific circumstances were given, guidelines were requested regarding behaviour, and how to most effectively relate to a dying person, whether they are an acquaintance, a friend or a family member.
Because it can be such a time of stress and tensions, there was concern expressed about the issues of unfinished business that all relationships go through, or things that needed to be said and done before death came. Is it time to make peace, or do we let it all just be? How do we know which is best, for both parties? How do we address sensitive issues if not everyone agrees on what or how to proceed?
Questions were asked around letting patients die with minimal intervention (referrred to as a Do Not Rescucitate, or DNR), as opposed to signifcant intervention during end of life care, and the value of dying with dignity and peace were discussed. When is enough, enough? How do we know? How can we make effective decisions when it is such an emotionally draining time?
What kind of emotions are appropriate to feel for the dying person? For ourselves? Is there anything to say or do to let them know that it’s okay for the dying to let go? How can we support decisions we may not agree with, regardless of whether they are made by the dying person or loved ones?
These are all important and relevant questions that most of us run through our minds when we face these issues in our lifetime. I was grateful this person had the courage to ask them.