In our daily lives we all need to feel connected with people and the way we do that can be through conversations, activities and shared experiences. When someone we love is dying, that need for connection remains strong but ways we experience those connections begin to close down. When someone may be drifting in and out of consciousness or can’t communicate verbally there are still some things you can do to make that connection…
- Touch: This creates an instant human connection. Sometimes people who are ill feel that they are not touchable or loveable and so touching them affirms to them that they are important. Even when someone is in a lot of pain, a gentle brush of the hand will be felt by the heart.
- Read: Health care aides would tell you that they see comfort in the faces of patients when they are read to. Sometimes it’s the newspaper, sometimes it’s the Bible. Sometimes children read a favourite story to their grandparents. If your loved ones aren’t able to tell you what they would like to hear, think about something that was important to them in their lives.
- Sing: Music has great powers. There are claims that music can reduce anxiety, depression, soothe babies and that it has a positive effect on dementia patients. I recently watched a video of a lady who had Alzheimer’s and didn’t recognize anyone but when a volunteer touched her face and then started to sing a song that the lady would have known from church, the lady started to sing along with her.
- Reassure: I can’t tell you the number of times I have met with families and heard them talk about how restless their loved one was until they were reassured by the family that it was okay to go. I want someone to tell me that my children are going to be taken care of; I would want to hear Gail tell me convincingly that it is okay to go.
- Be: The easiest but the most difficult way to connect with someone who is dying is just to be. One of the things that people wonder about a lot is what to say when someone dies and I say that sometimes just the fact that you are there means more than anything you can say.