Saying good-bye is never easy, but one of the hardest good-byes that residents of Anamosa and elsewhere may face is when a loved one is dying and they know they may never see and talk to them again.
It’s even more of a challenge when a farewell can’t be done face-to-face, with hugs or hand-holding. This end of life care situation may sometimes happen if people aren’t able to get together in person or access is restricted due to current health conditions.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice can help prepare clients and their families and other loved ones for the moment they need to say good-bye to each other.
Every family and every situation can be a little different and unique but we have learned how useful these final moments can be, and how people often can regret it later if they’re unable to do so. Even if there are still some unaddressed past trauma that isn’t quite resolved, many people do find some degree of closure being able to connect.
We also can offer suggestions and recommendations for how to arrange a good-bye, whether it’s a client inviting people who he or she may have been estranged with or even loved ones who live out of the area.
In some cases, the people may live nearby, geographically, but don’t always get together much for various reasons. But there is value in this type of connecting.
Traditionally, hospitals usually allow family members to visit so people can have their final good-byes. Larger groups may be asked to keep the noise down or visit in shifts but generally, medical staff is accommodating to this part of the death process.
However, with all the restrictions due to COVID-19, visiting privileges became a lot more rigid at many medical centers.
Due to fears of contamination or the actual quarantining of some affected patients, some medical centers restricted visitors to only one guest, such as a spouse, sibling, or child. In other cases, even these people may not be allowed in especially if they may be contagious.
This leaves people to communicate by phone or by video, such as a mobile device or tablet.
While they can enjoy seeing and hearing each other, it’s still not the same.
In some COVID-19 situations, a nurse or provider may need to be the one to hold the mobile phone or tablet or be part of a conversation, such as if someone is unable to speak or hold it.
While this type of situation may work for people staying in a hospital for a few days, it can also work for people who aren’t likely to come home, such as terminal patients.
In this case, a final good-bye may have to be done through video, since a hospital in crisis mode isn’t going to break its contagion procedures to allow one or two people together. It also likely won’t allow guests to go through decontamination procedures since patient deaths, while unfortunate, is a normal part of the medical environment.
This type of good-bye can be painful because there’s no physical closeness. There also might be an audience especially if a nurse or others is monitoring.
Preparing for this situation can start by working with the patient’s provider or hospital staff to accommodate any technical needs such as the correct video programs and someone to make sure everything operates on both ends.
Knowing that a good-bye may be happening in the near future, it helps to be prepared, especially emotionally.
These can be challenging and people often have wishes to run away and not have to experience the pain of this final moment together.
But as difficult as it can be for a loved one, it’s often wanted for the person who is dying since they’re the ones with much less time.
Things to do to help the situation include:
- Let the patient lead the conversation. Although it’s tempting to say whatever comes to mind and chit-chat, it will be more valuable to let someone else choose the conversation topics.
- Prepare for silence. Someone near death may not have anything to say or have the energy to say much. But they will still enjoy having you near them even if few words are exchanged.
- Avoid ‘what’s next’ topics. Unless you know someone’s view on spirituality and philosophy, you may not want to introduce conversations about things like heaven or resurrection. People who are dying may not want to have these discussions especially if they’re unsure or uncomfortable. However, if they are quite spiritual they may enjoy extended discussions about the afterlife.
- Don’t dwell on the little details. If you’re a loved one, you may already be planning for what to do after their passing, including paperwork, funeral, and financial items. It’s natural to want to discuss and get their thoughts and opinions, but in many cases, they may not be interested or won’t want to spend final time together on small items.
Overall, a good-bye can be a positive experience and create warm memories, even in a difficult situation.