When Families Don’t Let Their Loved Ones Know Death is Near

Before funerals at funeral homes in Rockford, IL, as ailing loved ones draw closer to death, family members are often reluctant to share the information they’ve received from medical staff with their loved one. The intent behind this is not malice. Instead, the family is trying to shelter the person who is dying from the reality of the knowledge that death is imminent. However, there are consequences they may not consider.

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By keeping the truth from them, for example, they are making it impossible for their loved ones to openly communicate their questions and fears. We can better understand this if we put ourselves in the same position, and then ask ourselves the following: if I know my time is limited to days, weeks, or months, what would I want to say to my loved ones? What would I want to ask, and what would I need to hear that would help me be at peace? Who would I want with me, and what kinds of decisions would I need to make? Finally, are there certain things I treasure — books, mementos, works of art, music — that I would like to be surrounded by and that would help me be at peace?

As families answer these questions for themselves, they often come to the gentle but critical understanding that, in addition to wanting to protect their loved ones, they also want to protect themselves, whether it’s from the pain of loss or from the recognition that they, too, must reckon with mortality. But it’s important to realize that, in trying to protect or shelter their loved ones, they are actually keeping from them a gift that is precious beyond measure: the gift of letting them speak openly and honestly about what they want, what they are feeling, and what they still need to say. It’s a gift that can only be given in situations like this, when families know they have a certain amount of time, and a finite opportunity to make use of it. This is very often the starting place for the conversations that will bring about healing, forgiveness, and peace, as well as the open communication of their love.

Finally, there’s an interesting irony in their attempts to keep the knowledge of a loved one’s impending death secret from them. In many cases, the dying person already knows. When this is the case, there’s nothing more frustrating to hear than a chorus of denials, or the insistence that death is not imminent, or the conversation-ending statement that our loved one is merely being “silly” or “overdramatic.” When they deny their loved one the opportunity to talk candidly about his or her concerns or desires surrounding death, they are allowing their own fears to take over.

So as difficult as it is, being open and truthful with their loved one about his or her impending death provides an extraordinary opportunity to share the things that matter most: our love and our presence. This can give peace and reassurance to their loved one, and provide a starting place of healing for themselves.

For guidance on discussing approaching death from funeral homes in Rockford, IL planning funeral receptions, our compassionate and experienced team at Collins & Stone Funeral Home is here to help. You can visit our funeral home at 128 S 5th Street, Rockford, IL 61104, or you can call us today at (815) 965-1515.

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