It isn’t easy to say goodbye. The only thing that makes saying goodbye more difficult is well-meaning family and friends who add unnecessary stress and drama to our lives while we’re trying to savor our last moments with our loved ones, make our environment peaceful, and ensure their comfort.
Here is a short list of things you probably don’t want to do if someone you know is losing someone they love or have been caring for for a while, in no particular order:
Blowing up caregivers’ phones with calls or texts.
When we are caring for a loved one who is dying, we shouldn’t have to turn our ringer off to have peace and quiet.
Avoid constantly calling and sending a bunch of messages if you don’t regularly do that type of thing.
Resurfacing after years of radio silence
If you haven’t been a true family member or friend this whole time, just stay away.
I’m already trying to navigate a plethora of other negative emotions and I don’t need to add the extra bitterness or sadness I felt when you abandoned me in the first place.
Showing up unannounced
If you know your loved one could take their last breath at any moment, there is nothing more unwelcome than a message that someone is outside or someone blowing you up because they’re at your door.
Kindly ask if you can stop by before you grace the caregiver in your life with your presence.
If you’ve been trying to get in touch with them and they’re not responding – that is a response. Find something else to worry about for a while or see the next point for some ideas.
Bombarding families with vague offers of assistance.
When our close friends and family members are going through a difficult time, we always want them to know we are at their service. Unfortunately, we often put the burden of help back on them when we ask them how we can help.
Try not to add to a caregiver’s decision fatigue. In times of crisis, it’s hard to know what we need.
If you want to help, just help.
- Drop off a meal (or a few). Must you watch them eat or even receive it? If they don’t eat it, is it the end of the world? If you’re truly acting out of kindness, it won’t matter.
- Have some flowers delivered.
- Record a song and text it to them.
- Offer to come over and take their dog outside for a little while.
- If it’s snowing, get over there and shovel their driveway. It really should be clear if hospice workers or loved ones are coming by to visit.
- If the weather is nice, go over and cut their grass or pay to have it done. Chances are they don’t have time, can’t risk doing it themselves, or just can’t even think about it.
- If you can handle it and you know they trust you, sit with their loved one so they can have a few minutes of private time or run out for some fresh air without having to keep an eye on their loved one. Even just a half hour can prevent a major meltdown.
If you know enough about your friend or family member, you will know what they might appreciate or enjoy during this time. Want to do something nice but you’re not sure what to do? Cash and prayer are always helpful in any situation.
Failing to follow through
On the same token, don’t say you’re going to help and then flake out.
Delaying the inevitable
While the primary caregiver is away, do not offer their loved ones food or drink.
If you’re not a member of the inner circle of care, it is not okay to make any assumptions. If you are not sure, you should ask.
You might think consider it help, but if a person hasn’t been eating or drinking, you might end up causing a huge problem for them.
Certainly, the Bible mentions giving people water to drink, but even Jesus would agree it is unkind to invite aspiration pneumonia or prolong a person’s suffering just because you wanted to show kindness and feel good about helping.
Ghosting caregivers once their loved one is gone
Certainly when a person’s loved one first passes away, people seem to be clinging all over you to the point of claustrophobia. After a couple weeks, everyone disappears.
Recognize that there is a difference between “giving a person space” and ghosting them completely.
Grieving is a lonely process. If you know someone who’s lost someone recently, make a point of checking in with them. Their Facebook profile may say one thing (or nothing at all, in fact)… but they may really appreciate you reaching out.
Accept that, after a long stint of caregiving, your friend or family member is tired and they don’t have the energy to reach out to you.
Did I miss anything? Is there anything you would add to this list? I’d love to hear your experience below in the comments 👇👇👇