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The Last Three Days
30 August 2019

What should one expect in the last three days of their loved one’s life?

By Paul Bashyam, HCA Medical Social Worker

Being with a loved one on the last leg of the journey can be a profound experience; a myriad of feelings such as guilt, anger and sadness can overwhelm you.

At times, negative feelings of wanting your loved ones’ suffering to end may creep in, making you feel guilty. At other times, you may feel hopeful that a miracle can happen. All these feelings can leave you feeling strange, empty and exhausted. 

During the last leg of the journey, you will need to prepare yourself, as this time is not just emotionally draining but also physically exhausting. It is important to make time for rest – take breaks and take turns with other family members to care for your loved one. Remember that you can only give your best for your loved one if you take care of yourself as well.

Signs of Impending Death

As your loved one grows weaker, physical signs that the final hours are approaching will surface. For instance, your loved one will stop eating and drinking, and sometimes become confused, restless and sleepy. This is nature’s way of helping our loved one be comfortable.

You can play some prayer music or calming melodies and even recite prayers. You may wish to reassure your loved one by expressing how thankful you are for them, how much you love them, and to forgive you for any past conflicts. Conversely, allow yourself to forgive your loved one for any past hurts – this can be a cathartic experience for you as well as help your loved one feel safe and reassured. 

Reaching the End

Finally, at the end of the journey, it will be good to have a friend or relative to help you to manage the practical matters. The important thing would be to call a doctor to issue the Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD), followed by a visit to the police station with your loved one’s NRIC, your own NRIC and the CCOD. The police will then give you the death certificate. You may now consider making arrangements with funeral services, contacting religious leaders, friends and relatives.    

Being with a loved one on the last leg of the life journey is never easy, but take comfort in the memories and experiences that were shared – for death is just a moment but memories will live on.