"Do not waste the rest of your loved one's life worrying about his or her death. Treat the person you love like the fully alive, fully human, fully beautiful person he or she is. Enjoy him or her for every good moment of every hour of every day. Assume your loved one can hear absolutely everything you are saying in his or her presence. She is alive, treat her that way. He is alive, treat him that way.
Give an Academy award-winning performance despite your fears. The fears that dying people express to me at the end of their lives are fears about whether or not the people they love will be okay. Even if you have to pretend a little or a lot, you need to tell that person you love who is dying that you will be okay. [Say] We love you. We will take care of one another. You can rest. You can let go because you have taught us and given us everything we need to be okay when you are gone."
These particular lessons spoke to me. They brought me back to the final 24 hours of my mother-in-law's life. As she lay hours away from death, her family gathered around her bed, taking turns holding her hands, telling her how much we loved her and that she would soon be with her beloved Jack. But I took equal comfort in believing that she could hear the conversations in the room - the stories, the laughter, the comfort we offered each other.