An elderly woman, dressed in winter clothes and hat, stares off into the distance.

None of us is prepared for conversations near the end…

 

We wish it didn’t come to this, but it does. Someone you care about is at the end of their life. No one knows exactly when but everyone is clear about what’s happening. Now comes the hard part, the conversations that occur before they’re gone. What do you say to those who are leaving? How do you avoid stumbling into uninvited pep talks, dismissive assurances, awkward displays of grief, or embarrassing cliches? Maybe you don’t. None of us are really prepared for conversations near the end. Our emotional vulnerability alone leaves us at a loss for the right words. Fortunately, there are ways to reframe this difficult dialogue that bring comfort and control to the dying. In the end, it’s all about who’s directing the conversation.