Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Words to Say to Help Someone Pass Away

I have not blogged here for months but was moved by a search which my stat counter revealed today. I always check Internet searches. It is interesting to me to know how many people throughout the world search for information on end-of-life issues and the process of dying. There is not much data available online. Often, strangers come to Bea's Bedside for clues. The most frequent searches seem to be clothing and gifts for elderly bedridden people and inquiries about coughing phlegm. Today someone googled "Words to Say at a Bedside to Help Someone Pass Away," so I would like to share my experiences in this domain. Bea's nurse Jane Otis was the one who actually gave Bea permission to leave. All she needed to do was acknowledge that perhaps Bea's time had come. Bea passed away several days later. I also have experience with my dad to share. He was 97 when he died. I told Bea, seven years younger, that she needed to give him permission to leave. She thought it over, and finally did so. He passed away shortly thereafter. Here is what she wrote in her journal two years later: "At the time of his death, I had come to realize that maybe people appreciate an acknowledgment of their right to die. I forever remember the look in his eyes, which expressed such love and somehow conveyed departure. He was a fine man, and I am glad I was able to have two children with him. I miss him. Experiencing the death of a loved one I find to be the most traumatic experience of a lifetime. In my experience, only giving birth, in its extremity of feeling, comes close."