It is known that the elderly often suffer from loneliness. But there is another form of loneliness that has nothing to do with socialising. Even when seniors live with their loved ones, a spiritual void can arise. This spiritual loneliness is a taboo subject for relatives, because everything in this loneliness revolves around dying and death. Nobody likes to talk about this supposed end of life. Some find it macabre when they involve their parents in such a conversation. But is it really like that? Or is it conceivable that people who are nearing the end of their life harbour many questions and fears?
‘What if I die’ could be an internal question that many seniors secretly ask themselves. People who need care or suspect that their clock is running out of time ask themselves such questions. In addition, there is an unimaginable anxiety that had never before played a role in life. ‘What can I expect in the future?’ This question could arise if they wonder about death as the next big event of their life. We have the answer to all questions of life and health. If we don’t know, then a doctor can provide that information. In addition, an optimal treatment method can be included.
But there is nobody to explain to the elderly what happens when they die or how they can mentally process this concern. It may be the case that not all seniors want to talk about this. But some have these questions and fears that no one is willing to address. Anyone who starts such a conversation ends up scaring their relatives. “You will not die” is often the response of a disgruntled daughter when her mother asks questions about her death. And that’s the end of the subject.
Probably, another reason for this is that we know next to nothing about dying and death itself. Above all, the subject of dying or death is taboo for us. People like to talk about life, not death. The elderly remains alone with their questions and experience a form of spiritual loneliness.
First of all, you need to make sure that the person wants to talk about this topic. This can be found out with a casual question like, “Are you afraid of death?” Based on the reaction, you will realise whether it is relevant to talk about this topic with them. Often, the thought of death is accompanied by a religious sentiment. It is important that the family member knows the person’s beliefs.
The conversations should also include the way the person would like their funeral rites to be performed. Later, as a relative, you will be grateful that everyone was able to pay their final respect to the deceased in the way they preferred. In retrospect, many people regret not having viewed the information on organising their funeral while the person was alive.
The greatest fear of dying lies in the fact that many people see death as an inexpressible pain. But it is no longer necessary to suffer like this. The palliative care units specialise in ensuring that pain can be localised and treated well. Let the affected person know and take away the worry of a painful death if you can guarantee it.
Many people who foresee their imminent death conduct an internal review of their life. Were my actions and choices in life correct? Was I a good person, partner or parent? What is there to regret and what were my good deeds? As a relative, you have been a part of their life and so, it stands to reason that this topic be discussed together. This also offers the opportunity to come to terms with things from the past. Repressed events can be allowed to come to the surface now.
You should be there for the person concerned and have an appropriate understanding so that you are can offer emotional help and support. Sometimes, this uncomfortable memory can even have something to do with you. It is conceivable that your father or mother regret an event with you now in the face of death. Maybe you were treated unfairly or there was an argument that was never properly resolved. Now is your chance to forgive and forget. But of course, that also applies in the opposite case. Did you ever let your mother or father down and didn’t bring up the subject again? Then now is the time to apologise.
What you should absolutely avoid is a negative review of the affected person’s life. While many mistakes seem to adorn the agenda of life, it is not conducive to release the elderly from the fear of dying, because in many minds, there is still the thought of a punishment that awaits the soul in the hereafter. Only then are life’s mistakes resolved. Even if these ideas are based on the Christian belief, some non-religious people also believe in punishment. An exaggerated positive evaluations of one’s life’s work should also be avoided. Otherwise, your participation in the life review will no longer be taken seriously.
It is often the case that the elderly is in the hospital and says this sentence to their relatives: “I think I am dying.” But nobody takes this statement seriously. Sometimes, the sentence is dismissed with the fact that the affected person is in pain or under the influence of medication. A little while later, the same relatives are shameful when they get the news of the demise of the elderly person. This resulted in a scenario that the relatives did not wish for: the elderly died all alone and no one was with them to hold their hand, a wish they had in the last hour of their life. Many relatives are no longer able to say their final goodbyes and self-accusations becomes the order of the day.
People who are close to death can actually sense it when it is nearing. This is not always the case, but it is also not uncommon. What the person is exactly feeling is unknown. The feeling of diminishing vitality can be seen as speculative or they can see visions that take on religious hues.
Classically, this includes angels who appear in front of the inner eye and announce that they will soon come to pick the person up. The loss of your parents’ death is the biggest loss for anyone and you cannot repeat or shift this date. Therefore, it makes sense to pay attention to statements like impending death. Take them seriously and be there for them when they need you.
You will be grateful that you had the opportunity to accompany the dying person till their death. You can also ensure that you have a calming effect on the person. This makes it easier for the dying to let go of their earthly life.
What is also often neglected is the declaration of love at the end of life. Even after everything else has been discussed, people tend to forget the phrase “I love you.” Of course, you should only make this statement if it is true. Some relatives are superficially concerned with this topic. “My mother knows I love her” could be such a statement.
This can be caused by parenting patterns. If such statements have not been cultivated in the family from childhood, the adult develops this problem, too. In the best case, a statement such as “I like you” can be expected. So, we haven’t learned to formulate concrete expressions of love for our parents or siblings. Therefore, we shy away from making such a statement. But at the hour of death, if you give up this shyness, you can give the dying an incredible amount of peace and happiness.
We can only imagine what it will do for a person when they hear this phrase from you for the first and last time in their life. Expressing gratitude for the dying person can also have an emotionally calming effect on them. Those who take these things to heart can be assured that they have done everything to make it easier for someone to deal with their death.
About the author:
The author El Maya is a spiritual life coach and medium. She has published books on the subject of soul and karma. This guidebook contains strategies to reduce your karma and to find the centre of your soul.
Life counselling on questions about relationships, family and work are also part of her portfolio. It is their concern to eliminate negative interference fields in life in order to become free of blockages that inhibit inner growth.