START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Words of Comfort: What to Say When Someone is Dying

  • 1 of 3
Words of Comfort: What to Say When Someone is Dying

By Candace Rotolo,

Being diagnosed with a terminal illness is traumatic. But sometimes, what people say in an effort to offer comfort is equally distressing.

The truth is, many of us just don’t know what to say to a loved one who is facing their mortality.

“Most of the time I really liked when people said nothing,” notes Michelle Colon-Johnson, who has been diagnosed with stage four cancer five times and survived. “If I wanted to talk about the cancer, it felt good to know I could talk to others, but I never wanted to be treated differently.”

5 Ways to Preserve Family Memories

Experts who assist patients in their final days say the best thing to do for someone who has recently been diagnosed is to allow them to guide your conversations and actions.

“They might not want to talk,” explains social worker Edie McCaddin-Bower, vice president of support services at Beacon Hospice. McCaddin-Bower says it’s important to respect the patient’s wishes, but let them know you’re willing to lend an ear to hear their thoughts, wishes and fears whenever they are ready. Fellow social worker Meredith Cinman, ancillary services coordinator at Amedisys Hospice in Valenica, CA, adds that loved ones should try not to worry about saying the “right thing” but spend more time listening to the patient.

Ethical Wills Lend Clarity to Caregivers and Serenity to Seniors
The Legacy Conversation: Talking About Funeral Arrangements
6 Myths About Grieving

Words of Comfort: What to Say When Someone is Dying originally appeared on

  • 1 of 3

Read more: Aging, Caregiving, Family, Mental Wellness, , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.


+ add your own
9:46AM PST on Feb 21, 2014

Thanks for the article.

1:49PM PST on Nov 22, 2012


8:04AM PST on Feb 23, 2012

Tanks for a good article

12:24PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

a good hug may be worth a tousand words sometimes :(

8:17PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

I love you. I always have.

12:08AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

When my mom was in her last stage of Alzheimer's, I would sit with her and tell her about something that happened through the years. She had lost her ability to talk, so I would tell her I loved her and all she could do was just stare at me. I'm not sure she understood; or maybe she did and just could not make her brain work to tell me.

She is in heaven now. I know I love her and I pray she knowa it, too.

12:23PM PST on Jan 27, 2012

very good article. Thanks.

9:24AM PST on Jan 27, 2012

I've found that a good hug and a letting the person know you are always there for them and don't rely on always using the typical response of "If there is anything I can do, you let me know". That person is overwhelmed and more than likely slightly shocked at all the questions that are now infiltrating their mind. So rather than ask, DO! Make dinner s and take them to their home to save them from cooking. don't send flowers, bring them to the person, Make some tea or other beverage and sit with them and let them do the talking and letting out of their feelings and never say you'll get over it in time. Just think of what it is that you know a person needs and follow through with that.

10:11AM PST on Jan 23, 2012


1:50AM PST on Jan 23, 2012

Thank you for the article.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thank you. Might be worth checking the label if you want to avoid GMOs, which a lot of US-supplied s…

mmm bookmarked some great ideas :) Thank you for sharing.

I must admit that they do look delicious ☺

Thanks for the info.


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!