Saying Goodbye: Six Things to Know and Do When a Loved One is Passing Away

Monday, June 5, 2023

Saying goodbye to a loved one passing away is undeniably hard, but your reassurance can help you both find peace.

While final farewells are never easy, there are things you can do to ease the pain of parting. Focusing on your loved one and providing the best possible care will help you both during this trying time.

That effort and the six suggestions below can bring peace and healing amid your grief.

1. Don’t wait.

No one wants to say goodbye to someone they love, but saying the important things now can help you avoid regret down the road. “I love you,” “Thank you,” and “Please forgive me,” for example, can bring peace and comfort to both of you.

2. Continue to communicate.

As people approach their final hours, they often lapse into unconsciousness. You may think your loved one can’t hear you but keep talking to them anyway. Studies show that hearing is the last sense that is lost, so speak to your loved one, read aloud, sing songs, and tell stories. Surround them with the sounds of love.

3. Offer reassurance.

Let your beloved friend or family member know that you are there and offer a compassionate ear. If they talk about dying, ask them to share with you what they are feeling and reassure them about any concerns they might have. Many people worry about what will happen to those they love after they pass on so do your best to assure your loved one that everyone will be OK. If they are concerned about family discord, let them know that those matters will work out, too. The goal is to provide comfort in your loved one’s final moments.

4. Be a good listener.

Death and dying bring up a lot of anxiety but it is very important to be there in the moment. Slow down and really listen to what your loved one is saying. Some people need to share important information while others simply want to recall favorite childhood memories at the end of their lives. Listen without passing judgment and offer your support and validation.

5. Enjoy some lighthearted moments.

Losing a loved one is a sad and difficult time, but every minute doesn’t have to be full of pain. Tell jokes, share funny stories, and watch sitcoms on TV. Recall favorite memories and remind your loved one of the many joyful times you’ve shared.

6. Final goodbyes are a process.

Saying goodbye to a loved one involves more than just the moment of their passing. It is a process that includes learning, planning, and ongoing care. Say the things you need to say, and then continue to demonstrate your support and concern. Speak from your heart and let love be your guide. Don't miss this opportunity to share your gratitude for their presence in your life. 

When a loved one is reaching the end of their life, preparation can make the situation less upsetting for everyone involved. If you need additional help, the Family Caregiver Alliance and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization are two of the many organizations that provide support.

The knowledgeable, compassionate funeral directors at Vaughn Greene Funeral Services are here to assist you, as well. If you have questions, require more information, or wish to make funeral arrangements, please reach out to us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at

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