Giving Words of Comfort for the Dying

Nothing is surer than death and taxes, but that knowledge doesn't make it any easier when we have to deal with a loved one or friend who is dying. Learning to comfort someone who has recently been hit with a fatal diagnosis can be awkward. It can be extremely difficult to find the right words to comfort someone in this situation. Here are a few approaches to consider.

Determine if the person who is dying wants you around him. Some people in this situation are not ready to speak to anyone about their impending death. Give the person space and the time to grasp his situation. Ask him if he wants time to himself, or if he prefers you to be close at hand.

Be prepared to simply listen. The person may not want you to say anything. She might just like you to hear her fears, thoughts or concerns. Tell her you are there to listen.

Reassure the dying person that you are there to do whatever he needs. Just knowing you are there may mean the world to him.

Ask the dying person if she has any unfinished business you can help her complete. Maybe you can help her contact a friend she lost track of, or help her settle her financial business. Whatever you can do for her, offer your help.