Assumptions about death

memorials_remembering1We can all make assumptions about death – even professionals who are working with death day in, day out.

I came across a blog by Lizzy Miles, a hospice social worker in Ohio and thought it worth sharing to help us improve our understanding of death.

Assumptions about death #1: If you have experienced a death, you know how it goes.
Every death, like every life is different.

Assumptions about death #2: People usually become unconscious just before they die.
Not necessarily. They could be fully awake, making jokes and quite feisty.

Assumptions about death #3:  Family will want to be with their folks when they are dying.
No. For all sorts of reasons, maybe not. And that’s OK.

Assumptions about death #4: People don’t want to be alone when they die.
Some families sit day and night and then the person dies when they briefly leave the room. No need to feel guilty for “not being there.”  Dying might be a private experience. Maybe it’s harder to “let go” when folks are there.

Assumptions about death #5: Families will unite around a death.
Families are just as likely to implode. The emotions that follow a death come out in all sorts of ways. Unresolved conflicts can become the focus for pain.

Assumptions about death #6:  The secrets to the universe will be revealed.
Don’t expect a death to be a dramatic farewell, a big goodbye, an epiphany, a big insight, the moment of truth.

Assumptions about death #7: You should tell your loved one, “It’s okay to let go.”
Dying people who haven’t been afraid of death can become fearful in the last moments. Telling them “it’s OK to let go” may or may not help them. Offering permission to stay until they’re ready to go might be better. (Maybe you’re really need to say “it’s OK to let go” for yourself.)


Let’s just do the best we can and be tolerant with one another.


Lizzy Miles is best known as the the person who brought the Death Cafe concept to the US, just as Final Fling brought it to Scotland.

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