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We all die yet many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of dying and unsure of what to do or say when we find out a loved one is dying. For many of us, that will be a parent but for others it may be a partner or, perhaps hardest of all, a child. 

If you are preparing yourself and others for the death of a loved one, it is beneficial to have a network of caring people around you who can help you when the time comes. These should be people who are able to talk about death comfortably or who have been through a similar experience. No matter how expected a death, that final moment brings fresh shock and grief and it is important to take care of yourself. 

Sometimes the people you think will be there for you are not. This could be because they feel awkward with death, or because they don't know what to say or do. I remember feeling hurt when my son died and somebody whom I counted as one of my closest and oldest friends didn't contact me for a week, although she was one of the first people that I sent a message to from the hospital. 

On the other hand, people that I had only known for a short time took time off work to support me or cooked meals for me during those first weeks. 


If  you have been a full-time carer of an elderly or disabled person, it may be that friendships have lapsed. Reach out to old friends and let them know what has been happening. Tell them that you will need support in the coming weeks. I know that, in our society where a high value is placed on being self-sufficient, this can be hard to do but most people will be pleased that you have contacted them again. There are also many online groups that offer support. Sometimes it's easier to chat with a stranger who has had a similar experience to you!

Often people want to help but don't know what to do. This is the time for you to voice what you need. Perhaps a friend can help to organize others. Create a list of things you need and want for both before and after your loved one's passing. This could include things like mowing the lawn, housework, laundry, meals, shopping, walking the dog. Many years ago, I used to have a pet care business, looking after pets at their homes while their owners were away. My mum was dying of cancer and, when it was clear that she had only a very short time to live, I asked a neighbour to help me with my jobs so that I could spend more time with mum. 18 years later, my neighbour still talks about how much fun she had filling in for me. Give people the opportunity to show how much they care by asking!

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