Even with all the preparation in the world, being present for a loved one’s passing is not always comfortable or predictable. It can be physically and mentally exhausting, as it typically involves a great deal of emotions, including anxiety and worry. Being present during a loved one’s passing, however, can also bring peace to both the individual and family members.

It is widely believed the last sense to fade away is the ability to hear. Those staying with their loved one are encouraged by Hospice staff to speak softly and gently, offering a low stimulus environment that promotes peacefulness. Describing favorite memories, expressing your love and offering healing words of forgiveness remind your loved one they are cared for and cherished. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you, as well as health care professionals, cannot be sure when a death will occur, and you may miss being there. In some cases, individuals pass away when their relatives and friends have left the room, even if it’s just for a moment. It is important not to feel guilt when this occurs.

Providing comfort and companionship to the dying does not require specialized spiritual or psychological skills and techniques. It entails the willingness to allow each moment to unfold as it will. Being present does not require you to shape and mold each second of your visit. Use this time to have the courage to say what you need to. Laugh, cry, be silent, pray – however you handle end-of-life with your loved one, the most important thing is being there if you get the chance. Hospice guides families through the end-of-life process and prepares them as much as possible for their loved one’s final moments.