Is someone dear to you nearing the end of their lives? In this guide we go over how to say goodbye to a loved one who is dead, or dying.
An average of 2,813,503 deaths occur in America within a single year. Whether you can see it coming or it happens suddenly, we all have to say goodbye to someone we love at one point in our lives.
We don’t always know how to say goodbye to a loved one when the time comes. If they’re dying, you want to make those last moments count. If they’ve already passed, it can feel challenging to work through the grief.
Some of us hold onto fear and anger or feel confused. Regardless of what you’re experiencing, it helps to prepare yourself.
The following 10 steps will help you say goodbye to a loved one who has passed away or is or dying. With these steps, you can say farewell, find closure, and heal from your loss.
1. Be There For Them
When the end is near, it’s important to spend what time you have left with your loved one. Some people let negative emotions, such as anger, take over. You might even fall into denial.
While it’s important to recognize your own emotions, it’s also essential to show your support. Your loved one is going through a hard time. They’re likely struggling to process their emotions as well.
Even if you don’t say anything, being with someone during this difficult time can make all the difference.
Remind your loved one that you’re there. Ask what they need. If they haven’t already, help them work through the funeral process.
That way, you’re fulfilling their dying wishes. You also won’t have to question what they would have wanted after they passed away. Instead, you can prepare yourself and your loved one for what’s to come.
2. Focus on Love
Difficult emotions like fear and frustration are natural. Instead of spending the last days of your loved one’s life in fear, however, focus on love.
Express your love and other positive emotions as your friend or family member approaches the end of their life. Let them know they’re surrounded by love and support in their final days.
Depending on the circumstances, you might want to ask for or offer forgiveness at this time. “Forgive me,” or “I forgive you” will help you avoid regrets after your loved one passes away. Taking this step can provide you both with the closure you need before their life ends.
3. Create a Memory Book
Gather photos from family members and friends. Then, create a physical memory book filled with happy moments. Add captions as well to celebrate the time you shared together.
Share this memory book with your loved one. Help them focus on the positive memories during their last days. You can both take a trip down memory lane, reminiscing on the moments you shared together.
Learning how to say goodbye to a loved one is difficult. Taking this step will help you focus on the happy memories instead of your grief.
4. Get Help from a Team
Ask your loved one if they’re comfortable with help from a hospice team during their final days. It’s okay if you can’t handle the situation alone. Depending on a team of professionals can help you and your loved one ease through the process.
Social workers and spiritual support counselors can also help you learn how to say goodbye to a loved one. Their experience will help you through any existential or concrete concerns you have. They’ll also help you through your grief when needed.
Spiritual support counselors can also help offer religious considerations as you prepare to say goodbye.
5. Say Goodbye
It’s okay to feel more pain and grief than you expected after your loved one passes. During this time, find a quiet spot that was special to your loved one. Take a photo of them or an item they cherished.
At this time, say anything you didn’t get the chance to while they were alive. Instead of keeping these words pent up, say them aloud. Otherwise, you might fail to get the closure you need.
6. Write It Out
If you’re not prepared to speak through what you’re feeling, consider writing your goodbye. You can compose a letter, poem, or diary entry to your loved one. This will help you work through your emotional pain.
Write as if you’re speaking directly to your loved one.
Tell them everything you didn’t get the chance to say while they were alive.
This can help you work through how to say goodbye to a loved one on your own terms.
7. Attend the Funeral
Attending the funeral process can help you work through your grief. It’s also another opportunity to say goodbye to your loved one and get the closure you need.
Attend the service or viewing with a friend or family member. Having support from a loved one can help you through the funeral process.
8. Speak with Others
Don’t leave what you’re feeling pent up inside. Instead, speak with other friends and loved ones of the deceased. Sometimes, realizing you’re not alone in your grief can help you through the process.
Other people might have stories you never hear before. Taking the time to speak with others can help you build new memories about your loved one.
9. Call Up Happy Memories
Instead of focusing on your grief, think of happy memories.
Remember the old times you shared with your loved ones. You can look through your memory book or visit a place where you spent time together. Focusing on happy memories can help accept they’re gone.
10. Recognize How You Feel
About a quarter of widows and widowers experience clinical depression and anxiety during the first year of bereavement. Instead of trying to go it alone, consider joining a support group.
Talk through what you’re feeling. Exploring and recognizing your emotions at this time can help you through the grief.
10 Steps to Closure: How to Say Goodbye to a Loved One
With these 10 steps, you can learn how to say goodbye to a loved one. Along the way, you’ll find the closure you’re looking for. Remember, you’re not alone in the grieving process.
Seek help from others as needed.
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