Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Should I visit a dying friend??


It seems of late I have been visiting the stats page of the blog less and less. What is that page? Well here on the blog it is a separate page I can go to that shows me all about the hits I have had both in the current and previous day. It shows me the number of hits, whether hit originated at another website (blog) or originated from people typing certain words into a search engine and if so what those particular words were, that lead someone to my blog.

Yesterday, I saw that someone had typed the words: “Should I visit my dying friend?” That is all I can tell is that someone, somewhere typed those words into their computer on a search engine.

Those words strike close to my heart, and speak to one of the reasons I originally started this blog. Now, just to remind everyone. I am not a doctor, nor a councellor or a man of the clergy. I am just me, a guy sitting at this computer sharing his thoughts on issues. My only qualifications to speak abouth death and dying is I know my own days are indeed numbered.

Back to the question. Should I visit a dying friend? My response to that would be in the form of another question. Why would you not visit a dying friend? I would in fact strongly encourage you to visit that friend, it very well may be a helpful, loving, growing  experience for you both.

Nothing in life is quite that simple and there is a big “BUT” with that.

First, I would suggest contacting a close family member to see if your friend is physically and emotionally up to a visit. Reality is this may even change from day to day, depending on your friends condition. There are just a whole variety of issues here. Check with the close relative first. Speaking only for myself I can say, most days but definitely not all days do I really enjoy visitors.

When you do visit be mindful of the patients physical limitations. For me, I run out of breathe more quickly than most and tire faster. My physical activity level is greatly reduced so don’t invite me to go hiking in the mountains with you. I have become more the  sit and talk kind of guy.

How could your visit potentially help your friend? Here I could get into hundreds of emotional issues and ways and I am sure there are more than that. For this post I want to keep it simple and straight to the point. Now I don’t care how strong emotionally or spiritually your friend may be.I think it would be a rare person indeed that would not find this time “disturbing or stressful”. Maybe, I am over simplifying it buat the very least t a visit from a friend could be a welcome distraction from the thoughts running through your head.

You as the friend may find the thought of visiting a dying person” to be troubling or scary. I can understand that. It can be upsetting, just the thought of a dear one passing, of not seeing them again. There can be the big question filling your mind with doubt and even fear, “What do I say to a dying person”? It can also be disturbing as it reminds us of our own mortality.

Now, if you are upset at the thought of loosing a friend of not being able to see them. Why would you even think of not taking advantage of what possibly may be the last time you can indeed see this person.

What do you say to a dying person? This is your friend, what did you talk about before? Just because a doctor has labeled your friend as dying, doesn’t change who they are, what their likes and interests are. All of this I would imagine can vary so much from person to person. For me I like reminising talking about the good times in the past. Personally, I don’t even really want to talk about all this dying stuff. Maybe, I do enough of that here on the blog. I would just like the chance to say I love you, give you a big hug and say see you later.

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10 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Should I visit a dying friend??

  1. missincognegro says:

    Thank you for your post. It reminds me of a friend who has lived with AIDS for over 20 years. and how I need to make a stronger commitment to him.

  2. Mel says:

    It’s hard–hard for the person wanting to visit, hard for the person who suddenly finds the world they lived in and the people who resided in it…changed.

    I understand the dis-ease that people have, the ‘unsure of what to say or do….how do I approach the person and the circumstances’. I also understand that I am NOT my disease, nor is any of us who contend with the circumstances making loud the announcement of limited time.
    I understand the fear, the desire to avoid, the denial, the pain……the twists and turns people’s own issues with loss create.

    I think you spoke it well, Bill.

    I guess I’d suggest two things–for people with the questions to take an honest look at what their barrier is and address it within themselves/a person they trust.
    And trust the people around the other person (family, spouse, friends) to say/give them direction.

    When I’m truly at a loss–I go to the closest source for direction. I always, always want to honour what they know and not assume.

  3. Jo Hart says:

    It’s funny how some people react to things. See I’m the sort of person to just jump in there, here I am holis bolis whatever the problem being dying/sickness/problems etc. That’s just me. However my brother on the other occasion, sticks his head in the sands, avoids any sort of emotional commitment, pretends it’s not happening and that everything will be ok. For example when Dad was in hospital, I’m there 24/7, my brother, well, he’s somewhere??? Just not at the hospital. He can’t handle this sort of emotional activity. People do what they feel they are emotionally capable of, some people find the strength to do things out side of there emotional comfort zone, others don’t. My opinion, if you can’t physically bring yourself to go and see your dying friend, there are other ways you could do it, for example a letter, a text or even a phone call. Thinking outside the box of what works for you, and also letting your friend know you still care and love for that person can be done in a number of ways. That’s just my opionion anyway!!!! 🙂

  4. littlea says:

    Thank you for this blog. I’m visiting my friends next week he is dying. I just didn’t know what was appropriate but you’ve explained things very well.

    Hi littlea, I hope and pray all goes well as you visit your friend. Just be yourself
    Bill

  5. Rachele says:

    Thank You! I have a friend who’s prognosis seems to be getting closer. I haven’t seen her in years as we have both been so caught up in our lives where we are with our families. We have been in touch for the last couple years through Facebook. Yes, I was wondering this very question! And you have answered that. Now to find a way to get away and follow what I need to do. Thank you again and God Bless!
    thank you. I do urge you to visit. The first few minutes “may” be a little uncomfortable. Be yourself and I am sure in no time you will slip into the regular friend visit type situation. Good luck
    Bill

  6. Cheryl says:

    Hi everyone, this page is very comforting, so clad Bill you found time to let us share your experience. I have a question, a friend of mine is dying, he is in stage 4 stomach cancer. At the moment he is in hospital and and not looking good, the thing is he does not want to see anyone. He will see me and his children and a couple of other friends but has asked me to tell everyone else not to visit. I understand why but for the friends who ask when can they see him I find it difficult to tell them that he does not want any visitors. I have tried to explain that he just doesn’t want people to see him as he is now, lots of reasons really but they keep insisting that they should just turn up at the hospital. One person did just that today and my friend was upset. All he could do was say hello then closed his eyes and would not talk to them. Has anyone got any suggestions for me on what to say to his other friends.

    Many thanks
    Cheryl

    hello Cheryl and welcome to the blog. This is such a tough situation. First off my prayers go out to you all.
    I feel inadequate in trying to answer your question. I am not a doctor, clergy man nor any sort of counsellor. I am just a regular guy, I share my thoughts and feelings as things apply to me. I may have some idea of what your friend is going through but it is all so different for everyone.
    Talk to the doctors about the situation, clergy in the hospital they may have suggestions. My thought would be that at this point it is all about the patient, what he wants, needs, makes him comfortable at this time.
    Possibly those that wish to visit could phone or possibly leave a card in which they can express their thoughts and feelings. The patient is dealing with a lot physically and emotionally. Let’s not make it more difficult for him. I feel as a patient nears the final stages the focus should be on them. It is a deeply personal time for the patient and immediate family/inner circle. Just my thoughts.

  7. Jasmine says:

    My cousin is dying ,she doesn’t want to see me.Doesn’t answer my calls.I heard from family that they angry with me about something that was not even my fault,I helped my cousin by being there for her and now she ignores me.Should I still go to visit her ,I’m scared she might close the door on me and that will break my heart.Can anyone have any suggestions?

    Hi Jasmine my heart and prayers go out to your cousin, the immediate family, extended family and all involved. Is am so sorry to hear of your cousin’s condition.
    First off though understand, I am not a doctor nor a therapist. I am just a regular guy sharing my thoughts and feelings based on my own. When it comes to a situation like this it becomes very personal for each individual involved, each will react and deal with it in their own way. Emotions are running very high which may cause us to react in the heat of the moment in ways that are totally out of character. Understanding of that is very important.
    Obviously, I know nothing of the circumstances that have lead to these apparent hard feelings. There is nothing you can do about past happenings, you can’t change the past. All we can change is how we go forward.
    If your cousin knows she is dying, likely her emotions are all over the map and can even change from minute to minute. I think the best thing, to support her in her struggle is to respect her wishes in this time of likely her greatest need.
    You say you would be devistated if you showed up and were turned away, very understandable. I have to wonder what emotions would be triggered on the other side of the door. The stress or what ever it may cause your cousin who is already carrying such a heavy load. As hard as it is for you I would suggest for now, respect her wishes by not adding to her burden. Now is a time to be focusing in on the wants and needs of the patient doing what ever we can to make it easier for them. As well intentioned as we may be we don’t want to add to the burden the patient is already struggling to deal with.
    I would suggest possibly sending her a card or letter. In that letter open your heart and express all your positive and loving feelings. Make it a letter of loving support, don’t even mention what ever it is that is causing the hard feelings. A message of loving support. Possibly then end it with a comment like. “If you feel up to it I really would like to visit.”
    You will have then done what you can, you bared your soul, opened your heart and expressed all the love and support you can.
    Be prepared as you may or may not get a response. If by chance you don’t let it go, knowing you did everything you could under these so difficult times
    Bill

  8. Suzanne says:

    My best friend died of lymphoma on October 28 2014. The last 2 weeks he didn’t want to talk to or see anyone. The only people he let in were me, his daughter and brother. His daughter and I helped him through his last days.

    He didn’t want a funeral or memorial. I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with him, but I feel bad for several of his close friends who didn’t get to have that time. Lots of people loved him and it was sad that they couldn’t say goodbye.

    Hello Suzanne and welcome to my blog. Firstly, my deepest condolences to you, the family and all involved in this so very sad time. I am sure it was a blessing and a great comfort to have you both at his side. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been, I commend you both.
    I believe when it comes to those final days or weeks, it is important to respect the wishes of the patient. We may not agree with some of their choices but then is not the time to get into a big debate or even argument. I think this is important and am going to try and get up a full post on situations such as this in the next day or Two. I hope I will hear more from you then
    Bill

  9. Leslie says:

    You are a wonderful man Bill. Your comments have helped me so much with my situation. I have seen my ex-boyfriend (of 12 years) more in the past two years than I have since we broke up 9 years ago – I admit – because he is dying of cancer and I want to be there for him. Now, we know the end is very near. There are hard feelings because I broke up with him, but there is also a very strong love there. When I see him, we do just as you say, we talk about the good times, his kids, and I listen to see how he is feeling. I let him lead, usually. This next visit will probably be the last time I see him, so my heart is breaking, but I will try to behave the same. (it might be hard to hold back the tears though – but he knows me – I cry at the littlest things, so this is NOT little.) I won’t burden him with my needs, like wanting his forgiveness. There were many reasons why I left him, and sometimes I want him to ask me for forgiveness, but I will not go down that path. I will just love and support him, thanks to your wonderful advise. You are a blessing to SO many. Thank you. I’m so sorry you are going through this……

    Hello and welcome. I am so very sorry to hear of all you are going through. It is such a stress filled and painful time. The very fact that you have stepped up to be there to provide loving support for an ex boyfriend that you broke up with 9 years ago speaks to the living nature of your heart.
    Your kind words Humble me. If anything I have writing has helped you in anyway, all my efforts here are made worth while. I thank you, but I do remind you I am not a doctor, therapist and have no qualifications to speak on anything. I am merely expressing my thoughts and feelings based on my own thoughts and experiences.
    It takes a lot of courage, a lot of strength to do what you are doing and I can only imagine you ex is so very appreciative. I both commend and admire what you are doing.
    We get to the topic of forgiveness and I am totally out of my element. You are facing what you believe to be your last visit, that will be difficult and my thoughts and prayers are with all.. Should you wish to bring up the topic of forgiveness this may well be your last opportunity.
    Forgiveness is something we find in our own hearts. We do so for our own benefit not the other persons. Whether we verbalized that forgiveness or just know it in our hearts is is a personal choice.
    Speaking for myself, one of my goals is to leave this world with a clear heart, free of any negative feelings. If you were able to verbalized you forgiveness from the heart it may ease his transition. It may even open the door to a discussion in which he is able express his forgiveness of you, for whatever issues you would like to receive his forgiveness.
    On the other hand getting into a discussion of past hurts at this time may just bring on stress for all which at this time you don’t want.
    Personally, I would seek forgiveness.
    A difficult but important decision you are facing.
    My heart thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    Bill

  10. Mark says:

    I don’t know how this works but I’ll try. I am dying of liver disease and I’m really getting tired of the hospital trips to drain my stomach among other things. I have no energy to do anything. I don’t want to talk to friends, just want be left alone. I have no appetite and I’m in pain. I don’t know if I’m afraid or not. I have a doctors appointment soon and I think I’m going to ask him if he could just make me comfortable. To me that would be a big relief. That’s all I have right now, sorry if you were expecting more. I don’t know what else to say

    Hi Mark and welcome to the blog.
    First off my heart goes out to you for all you are going through.
    Here there are no expectations you are free to say anything and everything you wish to share.
    I thank you for sharing your deeply personal and painful thoughts and feelings.
    Personally, I have some understanding of where you are coming from in your thinking. Our medical conditions are differed but the prognosis is the same. I admit to knowing nothing about liver disease and can’t relate to that. My issues are heart related and a brain tumour. But the knowledge you are facing death I can relate to. That, with the feelings that go with it.the, I am hurting, don’t feel well just leave me alone feelings.
    I say all of that just to try and assure you, that you are really not alone in what you are going through.
    Here you have found a safe place to let out all your feeling both positive or negative as they may be. A place to vent, cry, get made at life or what ever.
    We share a level of understanding and can provide each other company as we make this part of life’s journey.
    I do hope to hear more from you.
    You are in my thoughts and prayers
    Bill

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