“Do not count the days, make the days count. “
Friendship – The Gift That Keeps on Giving
When a close friend is dying it can affect us deeply.
Friendship is a special relationship of our own choosing and unlike a family situation which can carry all manner of complexities, it is often free of such issues.
There is often a familiarity between friends that allows for an intimacy in communication that may not always exist in a family situation. Friends can be a source of laughter during the darkest of times.
Consolation Only a Friend Can Give
One of my closest and dearest friends of many years (ok decades) came to my door at my darkest hour. We had often laughed at how parallel our lives were. She’d get married, I’d get married. She’d move to a new city and I would move a block away. I’d have a child then she would have a child. She’d get hit by a truck. I’d get hit by a bus. This went on and on and sometimes got really dramatic. Then an earth shattering death occurred in my immediate family.
There she was early that morning at my door with a plate of homemade breakfast burritos. With so much love and tears in her eyes, she presented the plate to me and said, “You win.”
After a long beat, we both broke into peals of uncontrollable laughter.
Tears of joy and sadness were all mixed together at the ridiculous game we had played for so long; juxtaposed against my greatest loss and breakfast burritos.
My Friend is Dying – What Do I Do?
As a friend you too will feel the shock and mixture of emotions that come when we learn someone we love is nearing the end of life.
Facing a dying friend can be very uncomfortable. We don’t know what to say or do. We feel like we are walking a razor’s edge trying to find the “correct” way to support. Too intrusive? Not helpful enough?
Sometimes someone else’s dying process can force us to confront our own mortality. Some will remove themselves all together, saying it is in the patient’s best interest.
Well, I hate to admit it, I have been there too. The longer I stayed away the guiltier I felt, and the harder it was to make an appearance.
Take time to process your own emotions, but do try to be there as a friend.
You are uniquely placed to offer companionship and support at a time of great need.
As a friend, it may be easier for you to initiate conversations about the dying process and the planning required to make sure everything is taken care of.
Ask the dying friend how you may help. Then listen.
End of Life Online Education
If you are a friend with a larger role like a caretaker, an executor or medical proxy, the Dying Your Way End of Life Training will give specific information to help you carry out those roles and the requests of your dying friend.
Through Dying Your Way online training you will find a balance between practical action and listening; loving and letting go.
The reality is you are needed and can help in so many ways. If you are not sure, again …. just ask … just listen … just educate yourself.
End of Life Online Education
Remember to dive into the experience, get familiar with the process and be yourself to your friend.
Remember to keep it light. Keep the humor going if that is how you are together.
Remember death is nothing to be afraid of. It is as much a celebration of life as birth is.
Remember to take care of business and continue to enjoy each other’s company.
Remember your grief and loss is real and is meant to be experienced.
It is our hope that being a friend to a dying person opens you to deeper love and wisdom.
You are a gift!
Co-Founder Dying Your Way and
certified End of Life Doula
Frequently Asked Questions
My friend has no family nearby and needs more help than I am able to give. How can I best support them in this situation?
Listen to your friend’s needs and be alert to their safety and well-being. Apps are now available that coordinate help with friends, family and community resources. Also most communities have local social services as well as organizations like Meals on Wheels. An End of Life Doula would be a great resource in this situation to assess your friend’s needs and provide support.
What are the ways to help a dying friend?
Listen and respond the same as always. Pet care, meals for the family, bedside companionship, practical errands are examples.
I have a lot of fear about death.
We all do. In fact we are culturally indoctrinated to fear death. Once you see a loved one naturally pass away you’ll understand it’s actually a very sacred time and nothing to be feared.
The family seems to have everything under control. Would I just be in the way?
It is important to be sensitive to the situation and your role in relation to your dying friend and their family. Often the family needs respite but are slow to admit it or accept it. Sharing a cup of tea and a smile can never be underestimated.
How can I empower myself to help my dying family member die easier
After going through the End of Life Training you will identify gaps that need attention. You’ll learn ways to fill those gaps so you can be present. Knowledge is empowering, especially when you have an end of life plan to follow.
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OUR DYW PORTAL PROGRAM