Hospice nurse shares list of five things you must say before you die

Nov 14, 2012, 10:38 AM | Updated: 3:00 pm
A 25-year veteran in hospice care says you can learn a lot about what matters in life by observing those at the end of it. (AP Photo/file)
(AP Photo/file)

A 52-year-old ad executive from New Zealand died last month of cancer, and now that he’s passed, his rant on his blog has taken on a new life. In it, Linds Redding says he wasted countless late nights and weekends, and missed many holidays and birthdays, all for nothing. In the end, he says it was not worth it.

His story raises the question about choices we make in life and how we can avoid having regrets when it’s our time to go.

Eileen Geller is a hospice nurse who has been helping terminally-ill patients and their families in Seattle for the last 25 years.

Over the years, she’s learned that who you are in life is who you are in death. She says people often realize that when they’re at death’s door and doing a “life review.”

“If you’re looking back and your life is just a wreckage of relationships and people, it doesn’t feel good. But sometimes people will decide they have some time left, and they’re no longer in charge of what happened before, but they are in charge of today. That may be all there is,” she says.

Geller shares the story of a cancer patient who was at the end of his life and had been dropped off at a hospital with no family to support him. He was angry and would yell curse words at the nurses all day long. His tirades only stopped when he went into a coma.

Geller remembers giving him a sponge bath and trying to comfort him. She talked to him about forgiveness and told him it didn’t matter how he lived, all that mattered was what he chose to do at that moment.

“He opened his eyes and he looked at me with what I can only describe as love and understanding. It was extraordinary, and then he breathed his last breath and died,” she says.

You’d think it would be depressing to deal with so much death, but Geller says it’s an honor to be there in someone’s final moments. It makes her more sad to see how so many people don’t live well until it’s too late.

“Hospice care is really Velveteen Rabbit real. There’s not all the ‘better thans’ and the ‘thing things’ and all the busy stuff that clutters our lives. You don’t worry about all the places to go and the things to get,” she says.

If you want to avoid being that person who has serious regrets at the end of your life, she says there are five things you want to make sure you say to the people you love before you die.

“Thank you, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, and goodbye.”

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Hospice nurse shares list of five things you must say before you die