Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to say goodbye

I have a very dear family friend who is very sick and we have to say goodbye to her in the next few weeks.

All our extended family is in England, so my friend is like a surrogate sister to me. I want to be strong for her and give her as much physical, emotional and spiritual support as I can. I also need to be able to support my own family, especially my two teenagers who have never faced a situation like this before.

How to say goodbye
So, how do you do it?

I don't want to make a sad situation worse by weeping and wailing all over the place. I see the next few weeks as a time when we can celebrate all the wonderful times we have had together. I would like to do or say something special but just don't know where to start. I don't know how to 'be' with her.

I know this is a sad thing to discuss but if you have any advice, or if you'd like to share your own experiences I would love to hear from you.

Image: 'The sunsets are free' kevindooley


Agatha said...

I think that Adrian has some wise thoughts on this:

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I think the most important thing to do is listen & not be afraid to talk with her about her death. When a dear friend of mine was in her last weeks we painted together, made video diaries, talked & looked at photographs. We did some funeral planning that was pretty hilarious to be honest. We also had a few really good gut wrenching crys together.

It's so hard, isn't it?

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Agatha. I was thinking pretty much the same I thought I'd make up a video show with photos I have, and then it can be a present to her family when she is gone. I also thought I'd ask her about the funeral, to see if there were any arrangements she wanted help with. I guess the answer to my questions is to ask her what she wants from us?

hbacmama said...

Having done a lot of work in hospice care long, long ago...
Sometimes being able to say 'I don't know what to say' and just being there, saying nothing at all is the best thing you can do.
Crying is okay. Plonk a box of tissues down and let her know... today I need to cry. Trust me, she knows. Sadly all my books are at home with my parents. I'll try to call home later, my father loves a few of them to shreds.
My father is dying (granted he was given six months a little over ten years ago. I am actually scared that I won't have any tears left by the time it happens.
She is a blessed woman to have such a good friend!
You have my e-mail? We can 'talk' more if you want.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you, hbacmama

Agatha: just looked at the blog you recommended which got me crying all over again. But he has written a wonderful post about the last weeks of life which are helpful to see what might be going through my friend's mind.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Sarah.

I'm sad to learn about your friend. It is difficult and especially for you. Put yourself in your friend's shoes - how would you like your friend to behave/say/do if you were in that situation?

For me, I'd just like my friend(s)/family to be there - to do all the things they always did in sharing life with me. It is hard for you to ignore the situation but I think that you can do this through love and caring for your friend.

Share your life with your friend, your problems (not too heavy) and your laughter. Ask for their opinion over things even if you don't need it. Make your friend feel wanted.

Let's face it, when a person steps through the boarding door to a plane to leave the country you know exactly when they are about to leave and you say goodbye then. But it is all the time you've spent with them before the departure that's most cherished, not the tears at parting.

You probably won't know exactly when your friend will leave, so do as you do in the airport waiting room and in the days leading up to departure. Make your friend feel part of your circle.

Ngā mihi nui
from Middle-earth

Sarah Stewart said...

Wonderful advice, Ken. THank you.

Café Chick said...

Sarah, what a wonderful way to look at spending the last weeks with your friend: celebrating all the wonderful times you have had together. Most do not get that opportunity, and 'celebrations' of sort occur, for the most part, after a loved one has died and when they are not there to be part of the celebrations themselves.

I don't think you'll find a 'right' or 'wrong' way to spend these next few weeks, but whatever you do will bound to be appreciated and cherished by your friend in her last days, as well as by yourself in the future as you remember this time.

Kia kaha.

Sarah Stewart said...

Bless you, Cafe Chick, for those very wise words - being honest and meeting my friend's needs has got to be the way to go.

Anonymous said...

sarah - it's "being with" - you are midwife - you know how to do it.
You have your friends to support you outside the moments of being with your friend.

Sarah Stewart said...

I have wonderful friends like you, Rae, and no doubt will be leaning heavily on them (and you) as time goes by.