Penny Smith, who’s passionate about end-of-life advocacy and normalization of death, thinks that people who are close to death sometimes tell us that their time on earth has come to an end. “They might say, in no uncertain terms, ‘I’m dying soon,’ but often they tell us in metaphors,” she added.
They might say things like, “‘I need to pack my things,’ ‘I’m getting ready to leave,’ ‘I’m going on a trip,’ ‘I want to go home,’ or even just, ‘I’m tired,'” shared Smith. For the loved ones who are watching the process, it’s a matter of leaning into and listening to what they’re saying. By following their cues, you’ll really have the chance to say goodbye and express your feelings before they no longer understand, explained the hospice nurse.
People on their deathbeds are often concerned with mending relationships, navigating regrets, and spending time with loved ones. In fact, according to Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, palliative care physician, and author, Dr. Ira Byock, the words, “Please forgive me,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you,” become even more meaningful when death is near. As a loved one who’s close to someone nearing their end, facilitating these important conversations could be the biggest gift you can give them.