Have you recently found out that someone you know is entering hospice care?
Whether it’s a family member, a member of your church, or a fellow co-worker – we want to share what we believe to be some of the best ways you can support your friend.
Hearing the News
Someone you just saw and had a lighthearted conversation with, now suddenly seems so far away. It might even feel impossible to call or visit them. Have you put off a visit because you just aren’t quite sure of what to say or how to act? The reality is your friend is dying, and that’s a very hard pill to swallow. Being confronted with a terminal illness demands that we face our own feelings of helplessness. But here’s the good news: Hospice care can provide the comfort and rest that your loved one has possibly been seeking for a long time. You have the opportunity to help tremendously and offer a loving hand at the end of their life.
The First Visit
Above all else, allow your loved one to guide the conversation. If they aren’t comfortable enough to talk about dying then don’t force the subject. If they would prefer to sit and reflect silently, that is okay too. Consider planning your first visit around about 15 minutes. You can always stay longer if it goes well and your friend is up for it. Remember to be mindful of their schedule and needs. “Remind yourself that this is not about you. You may feel uncomfortable, but your loved one needs you.” -Brian Elster from Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association.
- Never show up unannounced. Call ahead to ask when a good time to stop by would be.
- Ask about bringing a meal or gift.
- Rather than standing over your loved one, take a seat and put yourself at eye level with them.
- If your loved one is very sick and uncomfortable, be prepared for them to face away from you or be unresponsive.
- Reminisce over positive memories you shared.
- Speak the truth. Let them know if you’re praying for them or thinking of them, that you love them, and how they have impacted your life.
When You Can’t Make It
We understand that must be a very challenging and difficult time for you. If you can’t bring yourself to visit, or aren’t able to due to distance or time, then consider writing a letter or making a phone call. Your presence alone can make all the difference for your friend.