What to Say to Someone Who's Dying

What to Say to Someone Who's Dying of Alzheimer's

Wondering what to say as you sit in vigil with someone in end-stage Alzheimer's disease? One thing you can be fairly confident about is that some of your words will be heard.

Hospice workers and psychologists suggest that the dying find it especially helpful to hear their loved ones express that everyone will fare all right after they're gone.

For example:

  • Adult children might talk about all they've learned from the person and describe how they plan to look after the remaining parent and one another.

  • A spouse might find words of reassurance along the lines of how the mate will be missed and grieved even as a promise is made to take care of one's self.

  • Anyone can talk about the ways that grandchildren, colleagues, or community members have benefited from knowing the person, and share examples of how their inspirations will move forward.

  • Any devoted caregiver can recap how it's been a privilege to spend these sick days with the dying person and then talk about how the memories of these days and all the happier, earlier ones will stay with the caregiver always.

Words like these give permission that it's OK for everyone, including the dying, to move on. They assure, "You seem tired and should rest; please don't worry about us."

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio