Losing someone you love is never easy, no matter how it happens. While sudden deaths and losses can be overwhelming, you may find yourself overwhelmed even when you have the time and space to prepare for the loss of a loved one. People plan for death and experience it in all different ways, and whether you’re the primary caregiver for your loved one or you’re one of the people in their support system, you can strike a balance between bringing them the care they need and spiritually preparing for what your process will be to grieve their loss. Usually, the two will be intrinsically related.
Everyone processes loss differently, and while death is nothing to be afraid of — as it’s a part of life — it can be difficult to navigate, especially if you’re close to the person who is passing away. No matter your belief system and your proximity to the situation, preparing spiritually for the loss of a loved one is often the best way to go about things, as waiting until after they’re gone to take care of your needs can sometimes lead to additional distress. Here are a few ways you can prepare for the loss of a loved one.
1. Listen to Their Wishes
Sometimes, when a person is dying, they aren’t fully present mentally, and therefore it isn’t easy to discern what they want. However, when your loved one is highly cognizant, you can ask them what they want in their final days and help to provide for their wishes as best as you can. Even if your loved one can’t always communicate exactly what they need as effectively as possible, you can use what you know about them to interpret their wishes as accurately as possible.
2. Spend Time With Them
One of the best things you can do as your loved one gets closer to the end — both for you and for them — is to spend time with them and be in their presence as much as possible. You can recognize your time with them as precious and do everything in your power to make the most of it.
3. Make a Death Plan
While this is by no means your entire responsibility, there is some room for participation on your behalf, especially if you’re one of the primary caregivers for the person who is dying. Dying can be complicated and expensive, with funeral expenses often totalling to more than $9,000 in certain circumstances. When your loved one knows what they want for the specifics of their death wishes — from their will to their funeral arrangements — you can help them carry out their wishes in a way that you know would make them happy.
4. Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts
While you may not have any glaring personal conflicts with your loved ones that are in need of resolution, there may be a few issues that are worth resolving while you still have time together. Whether you’re offering one another forgiveness for something, resolving an argument or even simply telling them how much you love and care for them with complete honesty, laying it all on the table can help you feel more spiritually prepared for what’s to come.
5. Familiarise Yourself With the Concept of Death
On a more philosophical level, avoiding the idea of death until you’re confronted with it can sometimes cause distress in the moment. One of the best ways to avoid this is to familiarise yourself with the idea and the concept of death in preparation for it. While it might feel like a bit much, it can help with the adjustment.
6. Give Yourself the Space to Think,
Just like familiarising yourself with the concept of death can be a good way to prepare yourself spiritually for loss, giving yourself time to think can go hand-in-hand with that. Your mind needs the space not just to learn about death and what it means, but to think about what it means for you specifically.
7. Make a Grief Plan
Many people talk about the idea of having a death plan. One thing that often gets overlooked is the idea of having a plan, not just for your own last days, but for your grieving process when you inevitably lose somebody that you love. Many people find themselves distraught when faced with grief. However, if you take the steps to plan for the loss of a loved one, you can follow that plan and have an easier time caring for yourself when the time comes. Whether your plan involves going to grief counselling, taking some time off of work or carrying out your loved one’s final wishes, planning for grief can prepare you mentally and spiritually.
Preparing Spiritually for the Loss of a Loved One
It’s never easy to lose somebody that you love, especially when you are a part of that person‘s support system. But when you listen to what they want in their last days, make an effort to make them feel comfortable and also take care of your own emotional needs throughout the process, you can have a healthy relationship with the grief that everyone experiences at some point in life.