A person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way; a storyteller; a narrator
Most people take for granted that their loved ones will be around tomorrow. But what if tomorrow will not happen? What if you have a loved one who is entering hospice care? What are the most important things to ask them?
When we learn a loved one is nearing the end of their life, we feel an urgency to connect with them, hear their stories, say things we always meant to say, to help them find the meaning in their life, and be at peace with their passing.
The first thing you can do is gather the key family members and your loved one entering hospice to hold a discussion for your loved one’s end of life wishes. Your loved one may want to give away possessions and voice their funeral and burial wishes if they have not already. Make sure everyone listens respectfully to your loved one. The important thing is for your loved one to feel that they were heard and that their wishes will be carried out.
When a loved one is in hospice care, time is of the essence. Now is the time to talk about the hard things you may have avoided for years or thank them for the seemingly simple but greatly meaningful impact they’ve made on your life. You may say things like, “Thank you for always listening to me, Mom.” “Dad, please forgive me for not helping you better during your divorce.” Or “I forgive you for the things you did that caused me pain.”
You and your loved one may not have a conversation about the specifics, but it’s still important that you and your loved one will not feel like things were left unsaid.
Maybe you have a list of questions you’ve always wanted to ask your loved one but are not sure how to choose the most important or appropriate ones. Focus on questions that help them reflect on their life and focus on the joy they have experienced. You won’t have time to ask them everything, so focus on the big life events. You may receive some poignant answers.
Here are some questions to prompt reflection:
1. What is your happiest childhood memory?
2. What made you fall in love with mom/dad?
3. What has your service meant to you? (If they served in the military)
4. What is the best decision you ever made?
5. What has being a parent meant to you?
6. What have you loved most in this life?
7. How would you like to be remembered?
8. What hopes do you have for your family?
If your loved one cannot or does not want to delve that deeply, ask them more lighthearted questions to bring them joy, such as:
9. What was your favorite toy as a child?
10. Do you remember your first kiss?
11. Can you tell me about the most memorable trip you went on?
When speaking to your loved one, listen well. Use old photos and mementos to help them remember. Talk about shared memories with them. Make sure you record what they say. Your loved one may feel like a burden because of their illness and speaking with them can help them find meaning in their life, especially if you make them believe this truth: their story is a gift to those who love them.