How to Say Goodbye to Someone Who Is Dying

Gabrielle Applebury
husband visiting wife in hospital

Saying goodbye to a loved one who is passing away can be very painful. Take your time and know that however you choose to do so is the right way.

Different Relationships Get Different Goodbyes

Your relationship with the person who is in the process of dying will dictate how intimate your goodbye is. Even though it can be emotionally draining and difficult to come to terms with saying goodbye, doing so before it is too late ensures that you are able to acknowledge the importance of the relationship and gain some sort of closure before the person passes away.

Take into account the individual's feelings and what this process is like for him or her. You may want to consider letting the other person take the lead when it comes to how you spend time together during his or her final moments. Being honest, compassionate, and frank can help you both enjoy these precious moments together.

Losing a Spouse or Partner

Having to say goodbye to a partner or spouse can be an intensely painful experience. You have probably spent the majority of your time with this person, building your lives together. Saying goodbye and coming to terms with him or her not being around going forward can be very challenging and might even feel impossible. Focus on your loved one's presence with you now and try:

  • Reminiscing about when, where, and how you fell in love
  • Reminding him or her how much this relationship has meant to you and will continue to mean to you once he or she is gone
  • Acknowledging your fondest memories together and looking through old pictures
  • Planting a special flower at your home or in a pot that you can take with you to remind you of the person's presence - have your loved pick out the flower and care for it together until he or she has passed away
  • Watching your favorite home videos together, focusing on honoring just how special they are to you
  • Letting your significant other know your favorite qualities about him or her and giving examples
  • Asking if there's anything he or she may want you to do for them once your partner has passed away

Saying Goodbye to a Parent

A parent can be very hard to lose and saying goodbye to someone who has been there for you throughout your life is no easy task. Be kind to yourself and try to focus on spending time with him or her now. To say goodbye you may want to try:

  • daughter spending time with mother
    Thanking your parent for all that he or she has done for you throughout the years
  • Making a list of all the things your parent has taught you and sharing it
  • Discussing traditions that are important to them and letting mom or dad know how you will continue to carry them on going forward
  • Picking out a favorite picture of the two of you together and getting it framed
  • Asking questions about your parent's childhood and advice he or she wants you to remember once they have passed away - document this or create an art project using this information
  • Selecting meaningful matching jewelry that you both can wear- this can help you feel connected to your cherished parent once he or she has passed away

Losing a Friend

To some, friends can feel as important or even more important than family members. The individual may be your trusted confidante, a best friend from childhood, or a recent friend that has left a meaningful impression on you. Friends are oftentimes there for you when no one else is, and may even understand you better than anyone else. To honor your friend's life, think about what you would want him or her to do for you if you were the positions were reversed. You may want to:

  • Talk about your favorite memories together
  • Create a collaborative art project to have as a special keepsake
  • If your friend is able to, head to a favorite spot that the two of you often frequent
  • Share how much the person means to you by writing a note or letting him or her know in person
  • Talk about what the friendship has meant to you throughout the years
  • Discuss how lucky you feel to have met the person and how he or she has changed your life
  • Ask your friend if there is anything you can do to honor him or her once the person has passed away - such as donating to their favorite charity or volunteering somewhere that is meaningful to the person

Why It's Important to Say Goodbye

Death is an incredibly difficult event to cope with. Honoring your loved one and saying goodbye in a special way allows you to let the person know just how much you love and care about him or her.

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How to Say Goodbye to Someone Who Is Dying