What to Say to Someone in Hospice: Give Peace & Comfort

Published November 30, 2020
visiting a loved one in hospice care

It can feel extremely difficult to know what to say to someone in hospice care. Finding the right words to comfort your loved one and connect with them can feel incredibly meaningful for both of you during this time.

What to Say to Someone in Hospice

If you haven't had a loved one transition to hospice care before, you may feel nervous about saying the wrong thing or feeling at a loss for words. There are a few principles to keep in mind that can help you connect with someone in hospice care in a sensitive and meaningful way.

What to Say When Someone Goes Into Hospice

When your loved one first moves into hospice care, you can consider saying:

  • I know it was difficult to decide to move into hospice care. How are you feeling about your experience so far?
  • Would you like to talk about what this transition into hospice care has been like for you?
  • Are there any aspects of your care here that you aren't satisfied with? I'm here for you and want to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.
  • Is there anything I can bring you to help make you more comfortable? I want to make sure you have everything you want and need.

What to Write to Someone in Hospice

Sending a card can be a thoughtful way to connect with a loved one in hospice, especially if you live too far away to visit in person. You can consider writing:

  • I just wanted to let you know that I am here for you and am thinking of you. I will always be grateful for....(insert special memory or lesson).
  • I wanted to reach out and say I'm sorry for... (insert situation). Would it be okay if I came to visit you at some point? I'm thinking of you.
  • I'm so thankful for our relationship and will always be forever grateful for...(insert special memory or moment).

Words to Comfort Someone in Hospice Care

Comforting words can be especially meaningful during this time. Speak from your heart and be honest. You can consider saying:

  • I am so thankful for the time we've shared and I love you so much. Do you have a favorite memory of us together?
  • I just wanted to check in and see how you are doing today.
  • I just wanted to tell you I love you and am here for you during this time. Is there anything you'd like to talk about?
  • I am here for you always. How are you feeling today?
Hospice nurse helping an elderly man

What to Say to Someone Who Has Family in Hospice

If a friend or family member's loved one is in hospice, you can consider saying:

  • I heard that (insert loved one's name) is in hospice care now. How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do to help you during this time?
  • I just wanted to check in and see how you are doing with (insert loved one's name) transition into hospice.
  • Let me know if you'd like me to watch your (kids or pets) while you visit (insert loved one's name). I am happy to do so at any time.

What Not to Say to Someone in Hospice Care

It's important to be very mindful of what you say to someone who is in hospice care. Even if you have the best intentions, there are a few things you'll want to avoid saying or bringing up. These include:

  • Avoid saying or sending get well soon cards or sentiments. Hospice care typically indicates that the dying process has begun, and the focus is on creating comfort versus finding a cure or treatment.
  • Avoid bringing up your thoughts on why the person is in the process of dying. It's not appropriate or sensitive to do.
  • Avoid bringing up religious thoughts or beliefs unless they ask you to.
  • Avoid making the connection about you and try to truly be there for them.

What to Say to Someone Who Is Dying Soon

If your loved one, or an acquaintance is close to passing away, it may feel difficult to find the right words to say. Be sure to think carefully about what you'd like to say to a loved one who is near death and be sure to process your experience afterwards.

What to Say to a Hospice Patient

Know that it is completely normal to feel a range of emotions when you connect with someone in hospice care. Be sure that you prepare yourself as best as you can prior to meeting with your loved one who is in hospice and process your emotional experience afterwards. Being there for someone in the process of passing away can weigh heavily on you, so be sure to take good care of yourself at this time.

What to Say to Someone in Hospice: Give Peace & Comfort