Questions of Death and Dying
I have regrets.
If your loved one is dying, have you said everything that you need to say to him or her? Chaplains help people prepare for death by encouraging them to write letters or to sit down with people and make peace by saying what they've been wanting to say.
Even if your loved one is very near death and not conscious, people who are dying are often aware of what you're saying. Even if you don't get words of response, it's not too late to say "I'm sorry" and "I love you."
Everyone facing the death of a loved one copes differently. Some family members will accept the news more easily and may find it difficult to be patient with others who are in denial.
The chaplain helps families understand that everyone takes in this information at different rates, and some people need more time.
In some families, old angers and hurts bubble to the surface when a death is near. The chaplain is someone removed from the family. So the chaplain can be a neutral, safe facilitator to help people talk out their issues.
Even if you and your family do not have a religious faith, a palliative care chaplain can be helpful.
As Death Approaches
People are often anxious about what to expect as death approaches, but a palliative care team, including the doctors, nurses, and social workers as well as the chaplain, can help you prepare for the stages of death and dying. These stages can vary depending on the type of illness and other factors, but they are still very common.
As the body's systems weaken in the months before death, people tend to become less active and begin to look inward. They start to withdraw from the world around them and often use this stepping back as a way of preparing.
People tend to become less interested in food as death approaches. This may feel strange. But even though one of our main ways to comfort people is to feed them, there comes a point when the body is simply not able to digest the food it's given.