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Funeral Planning

10 Ways to Prepare for the Passing of a Loved One

Nobody wants to think about the passing of a loved one, but being prepared can make a difficult time a little bit more manageable.  While it’s never easy, there are things you can do so when the inevitable happens, you are as ready as you can be.

  1. TELL OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS. Losing someone is hard, but it is worse if it comes out of nowhere. Tell other family members and friends when your loved one is nearing the end of life. Be sensitive when you tell them, as it might be a shock. If they live far away it might be particularly painful that they are not there to say goodbye. Tell children tenderly and describe the process in a non-threatening way. It is all about the outlook for these situations. Dying is part of life, so turn it into a celebration of the good times, but don’t shy away from sadness.
  2. SPEND TIME TOGETHER.  Although they may be sleeping a lot, having your presence nearby is comforting. It feels good to know someone loving is close to you. Your loved one may have limited mobility so think of easy activities that don’t require too much energy. Play their favorite card game, or read them a book. You can both watch a movie together and relax, too. Being there is the important part.
  3. TALK TO THEM ABOUT DEATH. It may seem like the elephant in the room, but it is in the forefront of thought. Let your loved one bring it up first, but be open to the discussion. They can talk about it in a myriad of ways from incorporating humor to serious discussion. Be willing to discuss it however the individual feels comfortable. Speak with honesty and compassion.
  4. EXPRESS YOUR LOVE. Get all the hugs and kisses in while you can. Express your gratitude for your loved one, and tell them what a wonderful experience it is knowing them. Take extra time in your day to tell them how much they mean to you.
  5. TALK THROUGH TOUGH EMOTIONS WITH THEM. They are experiencing many different emotions. Sometimes these are accompanied by pain both emotionally and physically. Be sensitive and open to what they want to share and when. They might bottle it all up, and that is okay. Your job is to let them know you are there for them. It is difficult but take your direction from them. They may need you to just be there. Be receptive when emotions are shown.
  6. CHERISH THE MEMORIES. You will have plenty of time later to reminisce, but not with your loved one. Bring up some of the best memories and focus on the fun times. You can even make a book of great photos or keepsakes and gift it to your loved one. This could be a fun activity to get the family together and share emotions and support each other.
  7. TIE UP LOOSE ENDS. If you are the point person to the loved one nearing the end of life, you will be responsible for a lot. You don’t need to be all business, but it is good to get some basic information from your loved one. Close accounts and find out about any insurance information you need to. Also, this is the time for forgiveness, so if there are any situation you want to discuss, keep it in the mindset of forgiveness and healing.
  8. MAKE FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS. Check with your loved one how they want to be celebrated after death. Some people prefer traditional funeral and cemetery burials. Other prefer a more celebratory party atmosphere. There are also a lot of options for burial types. Determine if they would like their body and organs left for scientific research. This is particularly useful for people with terminal illness. You can discuss fun things too, like favorite songs and flowers.
  9. PREPARE FOR THE GRIEVING PROCESS. There are many phases of grieving after the loss of a loved one. Research similar experiences and how others coped. Giving yourself time to grieve is important. It is also vital to discuss the situation with family members and friends. They are often feeling similarly, but everyone expresses it in different ways.
  10. SEEK SUPPORT. If you are struggling with the process, seek professional help. It takes incredible strength to show vulnerability. Death is experienced and witness by us all. It isn’t an easy situation and requires more than just time to overcome. Seek a support group, family members, or therapist with whom you can talk through your issues.

Kurt A. Kazanowski, MS, RN, CHE, owner of Homewatch CareGivers in Plymouth, Michigan, is a seasoned health care executive with over three decades of experience.  www.thehomecareexpert.com and www.thehomecareexpert.com Please visit http://www.kaznow.com /and http://asonsjourney.com/.