How to say goodbye to a loved one

An article in the October 2012 issue of Oprah magazine about the book Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan was thought provoking in its humanity and wisdom. Maggie tells people to “meet the dying person where she is.” If she is in denial, then don’t try to change that. Talk about the future and reminisce about old memories. If she brings up the reality of her terminal condition and impending death, then acknowledge it. Don’t pretend everything will be okay- it won’t. The situation sucks, she hates it. It is okay to admit that. Being honest and direct is critical.

Everyone wants to know they mattered to someone. Tell her what she meant to you and how she will leave an enduring imprint. Talk about a life changing lesson or experience you had together or that she was responsible for bringing to you and your world.

Callanan emphasized how it is important to be in the moment and genuinely there – nowhere else. All that matters is what is happening in that room, at that moment, between the two of you. The outside world doesn’t matter. Be there in every sense of the word and experience every emotion with her as she travels her final journey in life. What is important is your presence, your relationship, and the humanity of a human touch. Let her know how you feel. Raw emotion is genuine. Everyone wants to be strong. It is also okay to cry sometimes. Cry together, love together, and accept the reality of life together. It can be a powerful experience for both of you.

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