The following is excerpted from the Respect Life Program, of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was recently printed in the October issue of the Justice, Peace and Life Newsletter. It offers practical ways to help care for loved ones facing death in a caring, compassionate and faithful way. God bless you, Father Bill
Here are some concrete ways we can compassionately care for loved ones at the end of their lives:
1. Invite God In: The dying process is a sacred time… As you enter into this season with your friend or family member, ask God to accompany both of you.
2. Listen: Try to discover your loved one's values and how best to honor his or her wishes.
3..Inform Yourself: Be aware that wishes for refusing ordinary or pro-portionate treatment—or for pursuing assisted suicide—are usually rooted in fears of dependency, helplessness, or pain. Make yourself available to discuss these or any concerns.
4..Be Steadfast in Compassion: Your friend or family member will likely face ups and downs...Recognize these as part of a natural process.
5..Help Them Achieve Closure: Help your family member or friend define the unfinished personal projects, financial concerns, unresolved relationships, or other matters ...
6..Provide Opportunities for Resolution: Ira Byock… illustrates in his book The 4 Most Important Things how saying "I love you," "I'm sorry," "I forgive you," and "Thank you" can promote much-needed healing during the dying process. You can help ensure a peaceful transition for your loved one by facilitating opportunities for reconciliation with others and for mutual expressions of love and gratitude.
7..Reminisce: Our appetites diminish…when we near life's end. Provide smaller amounts of your family member or friend's favorite foods. Even if unable to eat them, he or she may still enjoy the aromas and reminisce with you about special memories they evoke.
8..Provide a Peaceful Presence: Your own quiet, patient pres-ence can provide important support as your loved one prepares emotionally and spirit-ually for his or her passing.
9. Show Tenderness: Those who are dying remain in need of the tenderness of personal human contact…. Tell stories, laugh, and share memories to reassure the person he or she is a cherished gift, not a burden in any way.
10..Bear Their Transition Patiently: Try to be patient, and allow the "how" and "when" of death to be between God and your loved one. Ask God for the wisdom to know what final words to say—if any—and when.
Excerpted from Respect Life Program, copyright © 2016,
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.