This is the third in a series of posts related to my work as a volunteer in palliative care. As I support those who are facing terminal disease, or those who care for them, I listen with my heart, and you can, too.

The language of death

When people share with me how their loved one died, I hear different words that ring true to them, such as “he was killed,” or “she passed away,” or “we lost her.” We choose words that feel comfortable or safe. And it’s ok to use the same words as the person you are trying to support. (I talk more about the language of death and loss in my book.)

Working as a hospice volunteer since 1995, I’ve been by the side of people who died. Using the word “died” may seem morbid to you; however, the reality of the word “death,” as harsh as it may seem, is often the word that helps people accept it.

Yes, it’s difficult to talk about or learn about death, but we all, at some point, face the end of life. Everyone has a personal responsibility to become informed about end-of-life care options, including medical treatment and support services that are being offered in your community. You may want to learn for your own life path, or for the support of a loved one.

When we are proactive, we reduce the stress associated with not knowing what to do when difficult times come. We can actually create a memorable experience that will never be forgotten.

Take charge of the journey.