Solace and Comfort

I have never discussed death with my parents. How do I bring it up now?

Rocky in Wyoming, 60

Letting go is a time when you have the chance to express feelings and discuss issues and let your elder know how much he or she has meant to your life. You can also get to know more about what makes your elder tick. This time gives you and your elder the chance to feel that you have dealt with closure in a positive way so you both feel good inside. It can be a time to make peace with a lot of issues from the past.

Clear communication is the best way to involve your elder in end-of-life issues. Let him/her make decisions! Listen to your dying elder. Who was he/she for so many years? Learn about heart breaks and heart throbs. It’s a golden opportunity for your elder to heal rifts and cement bonds forever. Many elderly need to let go of stuff. It’s important to listen to this process even if the issues don’t involve you. Keep an open mind and let your elder process things. It allows them to wipe their slate clean. Let them vent if that’s something they require.

Ask your elder how he/she wants to die. Death is a part of life - talk about it. Validate your elder’s life. He/she needs someone to talk to. Talk about highlights in life, such as a sweet sixteen, a prom, college, and children. You might discover fascinating things you never knew. One client told me all about her Rosie the Riveter days in the Brooklyn Navy yards. When I discussed this with her family, nobody ever knew this about her.

Half of my clients have unresolved issues, and it truly hurts them. Preoccupation with the past is regret; preoccupation with the future is fantasy. What about living in the now? Living in hurt keeps us perpetual victims. In forgiveness, we may transcend hurt, loss, and grief. Try to help your elder work through these unresolved issues and it’ll make a big difference.

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