An interesting phenomenon is among baby boomers as we die off. Good chance if you are over 50 you have had a co-worker, friend or sibling die not suddenly.
If the terminal person has a husband, wife or partner that is managing the dying person’s daily life, this is the person you have to honor. If the dying person is relying on friends or adult children to manage their demise, this becomes a very sensitive landscape to traverse. .
Saying good-bye to the terminally ill doesn’t have exact etiquette but I would like to give some tips.
1. Who is benefiting from your visit?
If you have not seen this person in years, don’t start now at the end. Send a card, an email or a phone call. If you call, do not insist on talking to the dying person but express your wishes to the person who answers the phone.
2. Do not just drop over to the dying person’s home.
You want to leave a casserole, great call ahead. You want to bring a book or music, great, call ahead. You may be asked to leave it at the door, but do not just leave stuff at the door!
3. Do not insist on talking or seeing the dying person with the ruse of “I’ll just be a minute”.
Some days are better than others for the dying. Sometimes the care managers are exhausted. Sometimes the care manager or the dying person is not assertive. Don’t force yourself in the door. If they say ‘Today’s not a good day’, that is final. Re-read tip #!!
4. Do not voice or second-guess the choices or decisions of the dying person.
Often the terminally ill have chose to die rather than take additional treatments. Honor their choice. Do not put your own values on their decisions or voice your opinions to their family.
5. Respect the choices of the funeral or memorial services.
Many terminal ill people will plan their funeral or memorial service down to the music, invitations and food served. If they expressed everyone to wear Hawaiian dress, you better wear a lei and mu-mu or Hawaiian shirt! If you just cannot comply with their funeral or memorial wishes, don’t go!
Have you noticed a change in funerals, memorial services or saying good-bye to the terminally ill?
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