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What Can You Do Before Someone Passes?

Published: March 8, 2024

Knowing that a loved one will soon pass away causes a wealth of emotions and racing thoughts. What can you do for them to make their final days easier? Here are a few ways to help your loved one prepare for their last days, as well as what you should do to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself.

What can you do for them?

1. Talk about what they want in their funeral and disposition early.

You might not always have a warning when someone in your life is about to pass away. But when you do, be sure to talk about what they want in their funeral and disposition while they’re in a good headspace and still able to speak. It can be hard to think about what comes next after a loss, but in order to honor their final wishes, you need to be aware of what those wishes are. Talk to them about any plans that they’ve made and ensure you have access to any documents that list what they would like to happen.

2. Talk with them or to them.

When your loved one is nearer to passing, it’s time to focus on their care to ensure their last days are happy and comfortable. While they are still able, talk with your loved one. The end of life can be a lonely time, so focus on the happy memories you’ve shared together. Bring photo albums and other mementos to trigger memories. If your loved one is struggling to speak or remember those moments in life, it’s okay to simply talk to them rather than with them. Hearing your voice can be a great comfort, and it’s important not to try to push your loved one to expend too much energy. Simply sitting by their side and speaking, whether it be about your day or a memory you shared many years ago, can provide them some cheer.

3. Touch them if they are physically able to be touched.

Physical touch is how many people show and receive love. Find ways to incorporate touch into your visits with your loved one. That may mean brushing their hair or rubbing their back, but be sure that the method that you choose is not painful. If your loved one is frail and can’t be touched much, holding their hand may be a safer option.

4. Create a quiet but familiar environment.

Loud noises can often be unpleasant to those who are near to passing away, so avoid any sudden sounds, like a telephone ring or a shout from a television. But if there’s a type of music or a movie that was beloved throughout their life, play it for them, being conscious of the volume level. Soft background music, in particular, has been found to relax people in their final days. However, if you see any signs of discomfort while the music or movie is playing, they may prefer silence instead.

What can you do for yourself?

1. Speak with a funeral director.

You may think it’s best to wait until your loved one has passed to begin working with a funeral home to prepare their funeral. However, funeral directors have years of experience caring for families whose loved ones have passed away. A funeral director is more than someone who organizes funerals. They are a resource for those coping with grief. They can gently guide you through the funeral planning process and offer additional support during this difficult time.

2. Surround yourself with friends and family.

When someone important to you is passing away, grief and stress can sometimes cause isolation. Especially when you know that someone is about to pass on, you’re aware that the mourning is only beginning. And that can feel very overwhelming. Lean on your support network and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You have people who love you, and they want to be there for you, just like you want to be there for your loved one in their final days.

3. Be patient with yourself.

Grief does not begin with the passing of a loved one. It can start much earlier, especially when you know that their passing is coming. Grief can cause irritability, numbness, and detachment, so you may not feel like yourself when you’re in a period of mourning. Just as you would be patient with a friend who is not acting like themselves because of grief, be understanding with yourself. You may find that speaking with a therapist or another mental health professional is essential to help you cope with how you’re feeling.

4. Say goodbye.

When a loved one passes away unexpectedly, people often wish they had a chance to say goodbye. But in this case, you know that your loved one will be gone soon. We all wish we had more time with the ones we love, but at the very least, now you have the opportunity to say the things you want to say to them. Tell them you love them. Tell them you’ll miss them. Let them know how much they mean to you. You’ll still mourn them when they’re gone, but at least you’ll know that they passed away with one of the last things they heard being that you love them.

When a loved one is soon to pass away, one of the best things that you can do is be there for them. Visit them often, providing them with a familiar face, comforting voice, and loving touch. But as you take care of them and their final affairs, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The last days of your loved one’s life are the start of a period of mourning. Lean on your friends, family, and funeral director, who all want to support you through this challenging time.

Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home has been serving the families of Fayetteville, North Carolina and surrounding communities since 1930. The funeral home serves families of all faiths with the highest quality funeral, memorial, burial, and cremation services. They are especially proud to serve veterans and members of the military community with respect and dignity. Find more information about the Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home and their services by visiting
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