What to Say to a Loved One in Hospice Care
When someone you know or love is in hospice care, it can be difficult finding the right words to say to comfort them. Cards seem impersonal but you may not be good with touching sentiments, so what do you do? First off, don’t send a get well card. People in hospice most likely won’t be getting well. While you may worry that you will say the wrong thing or that your words will be received in a different way than intended, it doesn’t really matter what you say. All that matters is that you’re there, offering comfort. Still, here are some suggestions on what to say to a loved one or friend in hospice care in Alameda County and elsewhere.
Cards for Friends
If you have an acquaintance or friend in hospice, sending a card or bringing one with you when you visit is appropriate. Problem is, there aren’t many cards out there designed specifically for hospice care. However, you can always purchase a blank card or make one yourself by adding words of inspiration and encouragement. You can try phrases like:
- “Your beautiful smile always brings so much joy.”
- “Just wanted to write and say hi, and that I’m thinking about you and how much I admire you.”
- “Everyone is thinking of you.”
- “Hope today is one of the good days.”
Even a simple “I love you and I’m thinking of you” works wonders. You can even admit you don’t know what to say: “I can’t find the right words to express how I feel, so I’m just going to say I love you and I’m here for you.”
Some of the most meaningful notes are handwritten and heartfelt. You can write a short letter explaining what the person means to you and how he or she has inspired you in your life. Perhaps mention how you first met, how they added to your life, and that you are thinking of them always. There’s no perfect saying or phrase to put anyone at ease: just reminding them that you’re there and that they matter is enough.
Follow your instinct, and your card and message will be profound, possibly even serving a therapeutic purpose for your loved one. At the end of life, when dying people are aware of what’s going on, they often take stock of their life and go over everything they’ve done. Receiving kind words supports that process and helps them realize the impact they’ve made on the world, helping them to be at peace.
All too often, we assume people know what they mean to us, but that’s just not the case. We have to articulate those feelings and put them into words in order to be received.
In the end, the worst thing you can say is nothing at all. Don’t drop off the radar, don’t assume your friend doesn’t want visitors and don’t keep your distance. A funny card or text, a meal, an offer to pick up meds or just to go over to the house to do their laundry or watch their kids: these things mean the world to someone in hospice. Take action, rather than give an empty, open-ended sentiment: let me know if you need anything. Chances are, they won’t ask. Just do it.
Loved Ones: What to Say
If your close loved one, such as a parent or spouse, is in hospice, cards sent through the mail won’t suffice. After all, you’re there all day, every day, in the trenches providing support. But sometimes those daily tasks of caring for someone you love can consume you — so much so that you barely have time to sit down and really talk. When you can steal precious moments like that, what do you say? Chit chat only goes so far. Don’t underestimate the power of touch. A gentle rub, hug or massage would be great. Make eye contact.
Ask how they are really doing. Bring up positive memories. Reminisce about the good old days. Encourage them to share how they feel, either physically or emotionally. Lean in toward them with your body, stay focused on them, and just listen, says AARP. Resist the urge to fill silences with small talk. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re nervous or uncomfortable. Just be there, holding their hand. Maybe watch a funny show together. Make sure they’re comfortable and that they know you’re there for them. Be real. No Hallmark greetings here. Just be there.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Visiting someone in hospice is never easy. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable and at a loss as to what to say. The best thing you can do is just be there. We have the best hospice care team around that can help you all feel more comfortable. Contact us today at 888-978-1306.