Hearing the words you or someone you know is dying makes death more “real” for some people. Does this mean denial or fear is in the picture? Does this mean someone is not ready to deal with the reality as it is at that particular moment? Is there a right or wrong approach to dealing with the nearness of death?
Individuals handle death in different ways and families are comprised of individuals. Imagine someone dying from an illness and not knowing it, because some family members do not want to let the dying individual know the truth. What thoughts go through your mind when you read this?
Death is made real for everyone concerned when saying “you are going to die soon”. Feelings may be exposed and action may be needed to support those who need it. The words make it real! Being stated out loud “you are dying” affects more than the dying individual.
Some people may not be ready to handle the onslaught of emotions that come with being told death is near. Triggers of past losses may surface. Fears may come from seemingly nowhere and cause an individual to be unable to deal effectively with anything at the moment.
This is where I’ll share an encounter I saw with a family. The individual who was dying did not know that death was near as he lay in his bed in the hospital. Some family members refused to let him be told the truth of the situation. The arrival of another family from out of town put a wrench in those plans.
This new arrival to the scene insisted the patient be told and made arrangements for the doctor to tell the dying man the following day. Any family member who wanted to be at the bedside was given the opportunity to be there when the information was shared.
I know families can be difficult in the best of times, but WOW! After the individual was given the details of his impending death he quickly gave directions to others and planned his funeral, wanted to see a priest and made other decisions.
The clincher came when the out of town family member was later confronted by two relatives who had been trying to keep the patient from know he was dying; YEP, they blasted her with everything they had. Unbelievable, so I thought at the time, who does that?
Well, this hostile attack continued for a while until one of the verbal attackers dramatically, exclaimed; “THIS MAKES IT REAL FOR ME”! It was not about the dying person, but about the reality that a close, loved family member was going to die soon. Emotions were high and close to the surface.
The long and short of it is that some individuals will be the complete opposite.
There is no right or wrong approach for dealing with death. Sometimes, plans are already in place. I do not know how much or if any preparation can be enough to help someone deal with the words that “make it (death) real for you and me”.