My grandmother always told me that it was the greatest honor to be with someone when they took their first breath and when they took their last breath. She was a very wise woman. However, when managing this whole life and death journey, the life part seems infinitely easier and full of joy and we dread the death part, preparing ourselves for a journey of great sorrow, guilt and loneliness. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Learning to say goodbye and honor the joy of the life and the journey of our loved ones can make this moment one that can be lifted in our hearts. Remembering the honor of being with someone when they complete their journey here can be an amazing testament to your relationship and give you a unique perspective on the grace and dignity of passing.
In order to ensure that you and your loved one are ready for this transition, I recommend that several things are shared. Once the passing is complete, there is no way to go back and fix the “I wish I had told them….” or the “I really needed to hear…” Here are my guidelines for celebrating a life, a relationship and a passing:
1. Ask for forgiveness. If there is anything that you might have done that would have caused a physical, emotional or spiritual wound, now is the time to ask for forgiveness. It can be specific or generic. You can ask, “If there is anything I have ever done to hurt you or make your life more difficult, please forgive me.”
2. Forgive them. Now is the time to tell your loved one that there is no need to carry any guilt, shame or worry. You forgive them and accept them as they are — humanly flawed and accept them as whole.
3. Tell them the gifts they have given you. How has this person impacted you? Be sure they know that their life here on earth has had meaning and they are leaving an impression on at least one human. You can tell them how you will carry their gifts forward.
4. Tell them you love them. Allow them to feel the fullness that is in your heart. Once forgiveness is given back and forth, love will be present. Love takes many forms. It doesn’t need to be tearful (but may be), deeply evocative, or emotional. Share your love that way it feels most natural to you.
5. Tell them it is okay to go. Allowing your loved one to move forward without hesitation, knowing that you are bearing witness to their passing will help in bringing peace to both of you.
If you are facing a passing of a loved one and need support, guidance or assistance, contact Elliott at [email protected]