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What to do for your parent or a loved one who is dying

Copyright © 2007 by Lisa Tyler

 

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Most of us have our children on our minds, and our spouses and the unfinished business that we are afraid to leave behind.

Others have regrets, shame over past arguments, or mistakes made.

The heaviest burden we fear is that we will disappoint our loved ones by an untimely death, or leave them still immature and unable to take care of themselves.

If you have a parent or loved one who is dying, perhaps the greatest gift you can give to them is to show them you are ready to take over and carry on with living.

Here are some ideas of discussions you can have with your loved ones, and gifts you can give them, that will make their passing less painful and more meaningful.

1.  Forgive them, in person, or by letter or phone call, for anything that may have happened in the past, and ask their forgiveness for you.

2.  Sit down and talk, spend time discussing the future, theirs and yours.  Show them that you are thinking clearly and have a good understanding of what you will need to do for the arrangements of their funeral and taking care of yourself.

3.  Give them some idea of your dreams, what you’re hoping to accomplish in your lifetime and who you are inside.

Tape record your conversations and time together, or video tape them.  You may be glad you did later.

4.  Tell your loved ones what you think of them.  Let them see themselves and what they’ve meant to you through your eyes.  Tell them what you see as their gifts and strengths, the things they’ve done to help you and others, and what you have gained from knowing them.

5.  Find something that you loved about him/her that you want to carry on and share with others.  Was it their love of music, or their poetry?  Or their concern for others? 

6.  If there is something you can make, like a plaque or a poem that remembers them and celebrates their life, show them your plans to make it and keep it close to your heart.

7.  If you can gather together family and friends, have a living funeral – a party now where your loved one can share good times once more with their family and friends.

8.  If you are a person of faith, let them know you believe you will see them again in the next life.  Talk about future plans, and pray together.

9.  Call hospice, ask for advice, or visit any websites with information for families who are losing a loved one.

10.  Clear your schedule a bit and take time to grieve.  I can tell you from experience that ignoring the pain and pushing forward will not make life right again.  You will still go through a grieving process that takes many forms as it fades.  At 6 months the past may well up again as if it were fresh, and you’ll have to go through it.  May as well do it early and get on with life.

I can also promise you that every day will be one step closer to a day of healing, when the thought of losing that person does not tear you to pieces again.  It will take time, but it WILL come.  And it comes faster if you don’t resist the pain and tears early on.

Some people choose to get rid of things that belonged to the deceased, thinking that will prevent the pain of memories.  Others want to keep everything they can of the deceased, so they can have them with them longer.

There is no right or wrong way, as long as you don’t cause someone else unnecessary pain by forcing them to do it “your way”.  If someone in your family disagrees with you, let them grieve in their own way, but insist on being allowed to do your way too..

An example is when some well-meaning member prevents a person from standing at the casket and crying.  To be led away before you’re ready to say goodbye, is harmful and painful and will only prolong the grief.  Talk to your family members in advance and make sure they will not prevent your way of dealing.

At times of death, for some strange reason, we see the worst come out in families.  It will do you a lot of good if you can help your loved one arrange his/her funeral in detail, and arrange legally who will be in charge.  Having said this, please understand that MANY times it doesn't happen exactly as you plan.  Relatives interfere, things go wrong and if you are smart, you will be able to separate in your mind/heart the difference between your love for your family member and the funeral at the end.  There is nothing that anyone can do that can take away the years of memories you have or the depth to which you were loved, and love in return.

To reduce the chances of things going wrong, I recommend having the funeral BEFORE your loved one's death - as a "living funeral".  This is a party that celebrates their life and all they meant to you.  It gives everyone a chance to say what was on their heart, to appreciate them, and for your loved one to tell family how much they have meant to him/her.  Then when you have the burial, there won't be any pressure on anyone for how it should be done.  You don't even have to have a funeral service at the end.

When you are suffering, you may feel more inclined to turn to drugs or alcohol, or some activity that is not healthy for you, to find relief from the pain.  Although the Bible says to give strong drink to those who are grieving, it also says that for the kings and leaders, they should avoid it altogether.  Your position and your particular susceptibilities may mean you should avoid it too.  Do you have children to care for?  An important job that you don’t want to lose?

Are others looking up to you?  Do you have a weakness for a substance that to use it will harm you or your future?

These artificial painkillers are not the answer, they only delay dealing with the problem and compound it with other problems.  The answer is in your faith, finding a purpose and reason to this life and to this death you’ve experienced.

I recommend a deep soul searching journey to find God, and to find yourself.  There is a beautiful and marvelous spirit inside of you that has been endowed with gifts and purpose for this earth life.  You have made an impact on everyone you met, and many who never met you.  Every action, word and thought you have will impact those around you, like a ripple effect in a pond.

Determine that through all of this, you are going to be a force for good, and a carrier of the memory of your loved ones.  You can keep your loved one's memory alive and his/her life worth while, by how you choose to live the next few months of YOUR life.

Seek help from professional counselors.  Find friends, church members, activities that you love to do and that will build future joy.

The Bible says we endure sorrow through the night, or for a short time, but joy cometh in the morning.  In other words, as the night eventually fades into bright sunshine and a new day, your life that seems unbearable, will turn again into new life and joy, with new purpose and love and healing.

Wait for it, beloved.  Embrace life, even with its pain, and be determined to USE your talents and opportunities.  Both to help others and to get the most joy out of living that you can. 

Someone once said when they go they wanted to skid into heaven and yell “what a ride!”  So much better than sitting in a corner feeling self pity and regrets.  There is nothing you can do about your loss, because all things in this world come and go like the ebb and flow of the tides.  You CAN be sure both you and your loved ones are saved, so that you will spend eternity with Jesus and see each other again.  Then life will not be ending, but the loss will be not much more than if your family member went on vacation.  You know you'll see them again.

There is no lack, and no loss truly, because we are all connected and we all live on, beyond this body and this moment in time.  This life is but a blink of an eye in eternity, and there is SO much more to go!  I pray you will find the truth in this and the joy in living again.  If you want to talk, feel free to email me.  chastityrose@yahoo.com

God bless you.

 

© Lisa Tyler 2009

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