Living with death and dying
Living with death and dying

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Living with death and dying

1.4.10 Unfinished business

When people die suddenly we can never be sure that they have done and said what they want and are able to do. Meg’s long term-illness gave her a lot of time for reflection and preparation, so that while her death was sudden and she was unable to see her younger son, she also had the opportunity for conversations with people about her death. However, there may have been last-minute wishes that Meg was unable to express.

Li’s sudden stroke may have left her with things unsaid, but her heart attack served as a warning and gave her the opportunity to complete any unfinished business.

Vic seemed to leave behind a lot of unknown needs. He wanted a closer relationship with his children. In part his severe illness and then imminent death allowed him to achieve some meaningful contact, which seemed difficult in normal circumstances. Dying gives people opportunities to express wishes which may otherwise remain unexpressed.

Andrew left an unfinished life, in particular a partly planned wedding. There were, however, lots of opportunities for the family to say their good-byes, in the sense that everyone was aware of the imminence of Andrew’s death and therefore ready to hear what he wanted to say.


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