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Many people are uncomfortable talking about death, and don’t know how to ask for or offer support when someone has died.

Emotional support can take many forms at the end of life. The person who is dying could feel the need to talk openly about death, or they may not want to even acknowledge that it’s happening. Family members may be equally uncomfortable with the experience of death, while being in great need of emotional support themselves.

Taking Care of Ourselves

Losing a family member or close friend can create a dramatic change in our day-to-day experience of life. It’s important that we take care of our own needs, and remain open to receiving emotional support from friends, family, hospice counselors, and other professionals.

Taking care of the practical details after a death – including financial issues, handling of the body, and the funeral or memorial service – can stir up deep memories, personal fears, or feelings of grief. It’s best if these feelings can be openly acknowledged and addressed, rather than hidden, ignored, or pushed out of the mind.

Working together as a team with family and friends can provide a greater sense of being in control, while providing more stability for the emotions as well.

Why Do It

1. When someone we know dies, it can bring us face to face with our own mortality. With emotional support from others, we can work through some of these fears and feelings, and help us become better prepared for our own death.
2. It’s best to create a personal support team now with a close circle of friends. You can read books together, volunteer at a local hospice, and build the bonds that will provide support when a death occurs.
3. One very practical way to prepare ourselves emotionally is to pre-plan for death, both for ourselves and our family members. This will also help minimize the stress for survivors following a death.

If You Don’t

1. If you choose to ignore the topic of death, it’s more likely that you may feel overwhelmed physically, mentally and emotionally when circumstances absolutely require that you deal with death.
2. If you don’t have a support group in place when there is a death in the family, many friends may be hesitant to offer their support, feeling that they don’t want to intrude or don’t know what to do or say.
3. If you haven’t prepared for death yourself and communicated your wishes to your family, they may face higher levels of stress and emotional turmoil when you die.

Emotional Issues

Grief and healing
How to stay active
Needs of the survivors
People who can support
The person who is dying