I never imagined I would be saying goodbye to three grandpas in the course of less than a year. I never imagined that these things would happen so fast. As much as the last 313 days have been beyond difficult, they have also taught me some of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned about death. So, here goes nothing…
1. You don’t have to physically say “goodbye” to say goodbye. There doesn’t have to be an official time that you say goodbye to a loved one. They can feel your love even if they can’t reciprocate it at the end of their life.
2. Trust your instincts. There is no “right” way to go through the dying process with someone. It doesn’t have to be sad or somber. It doesn’t have to be this big event where you say everything you’ve ever wanted to say to your loved one. You can go in and just talk about your day. Some people choose to continue behaving as they always have while others feel they need to pour their heart out to their loved one. Any way you go through this process is right. Follow your instincts and you will be doing the right thing.
3. Stay present. As hard as it may be, try your best to avoid thinking too far ahead. Don’t think about death and “oh this could be the last time I’m going to see this loved one” because you truly never know. Simply be with your loved one in the moment. That’s what they need and want most at this point. The best thing you can do is sit with them and just be together. Try not to think about the end, just focus on being with them right then and there.
4. Talk. Even if you don’t feel like your loved one can hear you or understand what you’re saying. Just talk about anything you feel you need to say. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you left something unsaid. Say everything you feel you need to while you have the time to say it. You won’t regret it.
5. Don’t wait until the last minute. Ever since my grandpa died last May, I’ve been making a conscious effort to tell people how much they mean to me. Regardless of age or relationship, I tell them that they’re appreciated. I never want to be rushed to say what I feel needs to be said. Everyone deserves to feel loved and appreciated – making sure your loved ones know this throughout your relationship makes it so much easier when it comes to the end. I’m sure there will always be times when I wish I would have ended my relationship with someone differently, but I also know that they know how much they mean to me, even if that wasn’t the last thing I ever said to them. General rule of thumb: when you say goodbye/goodnight/see you later, always say “I love you” because then you’ll never doubt that they know how much you mean to them.
So, goodbye, goodnight, I’ll see you later. I love you, Pawpaw. Be good up there.

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