When someone is irreversibly dying, we are often afraid of what might happen. However, the end-of-life phase and the moment of death are generally a rich and intimate time for the dying person, those important to them, and carers. Palliative care, combined with open and honest conversations and timely planning, plays a crucial role in the process of the so-called ‘good death’.
Nevertheless, caring for a person during the last few weeks and days of life can be stressful and demanding. Various feelings and emotions may surface during this period. Many carers worry that death will be a painful experience. By simply sitting with the person you are caring for, holding their hand and speaking in a calm and reassuring manner, you can bring enormous benefits to them. Even though they may not respond, they may still hear you. Never underestimate the value of these simple gestures. Being with someone can be more valuable than doing for them.
The dying person should be afforded every opportunity to express themselves in whichever way is possible for them. They may wish to communicate through the telling and re-telling of stories and experiences. This can be a powerful and healing experience for all but especially for the dying person. In these circumstances, it is imperative that the dying person is listened to, without interjection, interruption, judgment or advice.