Learning that someone you love is terminally ill or about to die is devastating. Take time to let the information soak in. When you are ready, center yourself and ask God for help. In your heart, ask God to guide your words and actions. Hopefully, you can meet in person, but if not, use technology to help.
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Reach out. Some things in life require swift action. This is one of them. Do not let fear or doubt stop you from making contact. This is one of those times in life when you cannot hit the "redo" button; what you do next matters.
2. Start the conversation with genuine information and emotion. In the case of a terminal illness, you could say, "I just heard about your situation, and I wanted to connect with you right away. I am here for you." Or, in the case of imminent death, you could say "Hi (name). I am here. I love you. You are important to me." It is okay to be honest, and express emotion, such as saying, "I feel sad because I am going to miss you, but know we will see each other again." Even if your loved one is not responding, having this connection is important for both of you.
3. Initiate prayer. It may seem obvious, but many people will be nervous and emotional and not think to pray with the person or with those assembled. Prayer will help elevate the energy in the room. Praying together is especially helpful if the person is unconscious or unresponsive because you can be their voice. Often people can hear even when they cannot speak.
4. Follow their lead. Your loved one's personality and your relationship with the person will dictate how much conversation takes place. Be true to yourself but keep them at the center of the interaction. Sharing how their life impacted you is extremely helpful for anyone going through the death process. It reflects back to them that their life had purpose. Laughter and light-hearted conversation are okay, too, especially after you have shared your goodbye.
5. Listen for cues that your loved one wants to talk about end-of-life wishes. Some people want to preplan their final wishes. For some, talking about the arrangements gives them a sense of peace or control.
6. Offer reassurance. Let your loved one know that they are not alone now and will never be separated from God's love. It is also okay to give your permission or blessing to transition.