Although it can't be avoided it can be helped. Dying alone is
the most barbaric of all society's practices.
It is still like death in the forest amongst chimpanzees. Unable
to feed, to run, to call for help brings pain, fear, loneliness and
finally, death. When your loved one is in the mood to talk about
dying, listen. Especially if it is about their own imminent death.
This doesn't obligate you to carry out any of their wishes. When
death approaches the important thing is simply to be there. They
may not have requested this, out of a sense of guilt or masochism,
or plain dementia. But it is the most primitive of needs, the same
as having a loved one nearby during childbirth. It is just a
presence that counts. How can you be there if you have a job or
are attending a family's needs? It is a time of great frustration for
you. All your hard work and successes are culminating in one
The good news is that it need not be you who attends your
loved one every minute of the last week. Pay for someone to
sit—someone who is recognized. But arrange for immediate
privacy when you return. No matter how much your loved one
admonishes you to go about your business, you will know when
you share the final minute that your presence helped. The loneliness
of the last coma, the last silence is unspeakable. Give
yourself the reward of knowing you shared the pain, fear and
silent cry for help.