November 09, 2006

THE END OF THE JOURNEY…What I learned about death

My father passed away on Friday with me, my sister, and my mother at his side. I feel blessed to have been there and glad I was given the gift of closure that so many others are never given.

Throughout this journey there are a few things I’ve learned that I thought I’d share with others. I’m sharing only my point of view and would not be surprised if other’s views are different.

I’ve learned that when someone is dying:
1. Don’t deter them from talking about death—let them speak. Don’t make them pretend that what’s happening isn’t really happening. That is not helpful for them--even if it is helpful for you.
2. Don’t make them talk about dying if they don’t want to. Open the door for them and if they choose to go through it, then go through it with them; if they don’t, then at least know you gave them the opportunity.
3. Don’t say they were wonderful if they weren’t. I believe they will know this isn’t true and it will be more upsetting than comforting. It’s also inauthentic. You don’t have to complain about what they did or didn’t do, and nor do you have to pretend that everything was perfect. Just let them know you love them.

4. If they apologize, don’t shush them. Say thank-you. If it’s true, let them know you forgive them.
5. I’ve learned that it’s hard to watch someone you love die…and it helps when you believe they will be in a better place.
6. I’ve learned that even when you know someone is dying it’s difficult to know what to say.
7. Finally, I’ve learned there are many ways to grieve and seldom do any two people do it the same. Know this is okay, and don’t judge the process of others--just stay tuned-in to your own.

I guess this will be the last post on my father. Perhaps my experience will help others who have gone through, or may go through, something similar in the future. In the end I realized that the most important thing I needed my father to know was that I loved him. Not surprisingly, that’s what he needed me to know too.

Good-bye dad, I love you. You will be sorely missed.

Challenge: Share your love with your loved ones while you have the chance. Speak it directly and don't assume they know. If you have any unfinished business with a loved one, begin to clean it up. You will be thankful you did later.


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How do you deal with the death & grief of your only child (he was 28)...and the behavior of those around you??? I have lived with my partner (Dave) for 26 years and he wants things to be the same, but for me my life has changed, dramatically. Your insight would be greatly appreciated.

LISA'S REPLY: I am so sorry for your loss and cannot imagine what you are going through. There is no easy answer to overcoming grief--especially from the loss of a child. It is a long process and everyone deals with grief differently. There are many grief groups across the country that focus on the loss of a child which may help you. Sometimes just having a safe place to talk about your loss with others who have experienced the same loss, is helpful.

You also will need to teach your partner how to help you by asking for what you need--even if that is just time and space. Often the people around you are at a loss of how to help. Be clear about what you need and don't feel guilty for asking for it. If your grief becomes overwhelming, you may want to get into therapy to help work through it.
Warm regards-Lisa

I send blessings and thanks for sharing this heartfelt message. Nothing is sadder than hearing a client's regrets regarding unfinished business with a deceased parent. I had a stormy relationship with my mom growing up and was blessed to have 7 good years with her before her death. We had much fun sharing at a deeper level than I would have thought possible. Thanks Lisa, your dad was lucky to have such a caring daughter.

I have been awed by your sharing what you've been going through these last few weeks, saying goodbye to your father. He had to have a wonderful man, and you have honored him and the relationship you shared. Thanks for sharing your experience with me. Pat

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