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Elderly Person wants to Die? Joan Jerkovich “Your” Life Coach

Joan Jerkovich - October 4, 2013 3:14 pm

Recently, at a community event, I ran in to an elderly woman that I have always admired for her spunk and love for life.  While we don’t know each other well, we’ve always had a mutual admiration and easy connection.  After a brief hello, she told me she’s ready to die. When I asked why, she said she’s tired of living with her health problems.  I felt uncomfortable and didn’t know how to handle this conversation.  Any advice?

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this question as it’s one many people struggle with.  Having worked as a nurse with dying patients and their families, I am a bit more comfortable with these conversations, but they are always difficult. My advice is to make this type of interaction about your heart and not your mind.  It’s in your mind where you might be thinking things like, “this is uncomfortable” or “what am I supposed to say to that?” or “who says those deep-seated things in this kind of social setting?”  Even though you may be feeling uncomfortable, and your friend’s sentiment was heartbreaking to hear, it is a daily reality for many elderly people, especially those who are dealing with multiple health issues as your friend is.

When you hear an elderly person say that they are ready to die, go inward to your heart where you can center your frame of mind around compassion, a sense of simply being present with them, and of accepting of them.  Don’t scold them for feeling this way or discount their feelings.  Don’t try to change the subject just because it makes you uncomfortable.  Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.  Be present with them.  Be quiet in their presence. Place a loving hand on their shoulder or take their hands in yours. Sometimes in these situations words are not needed and the less said the better.  Your spirit of loving acceptance can be the salve to their tired and hurting spirit that longs for eternal relief.  Your friend is experiencing the natural course of a life nearing its end.  Bless you for being there for her!

I’m sure that many of you reading this have good advice on this subject, so please post your comment!  We learn from each other!



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