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What to Say to Someone who is Dying

When a friend or loved one is at the end of their life, it can be difficult to find the appropriate words to say. While everyone is different and there is no definitive right or wrong, you might still find yourself struggling to know what you “should” and “shouldn’t” talk about. To help guide your conversations, we’ve put together some suggestions regarding what to say to someone who is dying - and things that you’re better off avoiding.

Table of Contents

  1. What should I say to someone who is dying?
  2. What should I not say to someone who is dying?
  3. How else can I support someone who is dying?

What should I say to someone who is dying?

First and foremost, resist the temptation not to say anything at all because you’re worried that what you say will be wrong. By not saying anything, you run the risk of mistakenly making someone feel as though they aren’t important or that you’re not thinking of them. A simple “How are you today? I’ve been thinking about you so much” is a good way to start.

If you’re very close to the person who is dying, you can tell them how much they mean to you and how much you love them. Talk about all of the things that you have learned from them and the ways in which they have inspired you; recount favorite memories of them, and why those particular memories make you happy.

In some instances, you’ll need to take your cues from the person who is dying. They might want to talk about something completely different, like current events or pop culture. While these kinds of conversations might seem trivial, they also provide a much-needed sense of normalcy for someone at the end of their life.

If the person who is dying is someone you don’t know as well, you can still make it clear to them how much you care. Just telling someone that you’re there for them and that you’re grateful to be part of their life can be very comforting.

What should I not say to someone who is dying?

According to AARP, the one thing you shouldn’t say to someone who is dying is that things are going to be okay. Doing so denies the reality of the situation and may come across as insincere, even if your intentions are good. It’s better to acknowledge the difficulty of what the person is facing and to let them know that you support them. AARP also cautions against mentioning God or a higher power unless you are certain that the person is religious and would appreciate the reference. Crying and expressing your emotions is totally understandable and acceptable, but you also don’t want to burden the person who is dying by making them feel as though their death will make things much more difficult for you. They may already be feeling guilty about leaving their loved ones behind as it is.

How else can I support someone who is dying?

Spending time with someone - whether on the phone or in person - is one of the most meaningful ways to support them at the end of their life. But there are other ways to help out, too. If you can’t be with someone in person, a thoughtful, handwritten note is a wonderful way to express your love and gratitude for them. (It also lessens the stress of potentially saying the “wrong” thing, if you’re worried about that happening.) Consider cooking or running errands for them, too; these seemingly small tasks might be very tiring for someone who is terminally ill, and by checking them off the list, you’re providing that person with a really valuable service. Just remember to be proactive about how you plan to support someone (instead of simply saying “let me know how I can help you”), so that you’re not putting the onus on them to ask for something specific.

Lastly, if you’re a close family member of the person who is dying and they haven’t finalized their end-of-life plans, you can support them by offering to help them work through details including funeral planning and ensuring that their will is up-to-date. 

It’s easy to feel powerless when confronted with the pending death of a friend or loved one. The most important thing you can do is to let that person know that you are there for them - physically and emotionally - as they near the final stage in their life’s journey.

Do you have other questions about any other issues relating to end-of-life services? Titan Casket is here to help you get the funeral you want at a fair price. Contact us in the chat window or here to get started.