“Death is a tough topic” is the opening line in my friend Jeanette Reese’s poignant essay “Final Lessons.”  It focuses on a shattering, but eye-opening experience Jeanette had with her stepson, while her husband — the man they both loved — lay dying.

It was a moment that caused Jeanette to realize the depth of her stepson’s pain and to suddenly understand how much patience and understanding we all need to have with each other when facing the process of death and dying.

Jeanette writes that the anticipation of a loved one’s death“adds layers of words and emotions to the already complicated human task of communication.” A stunning verbal exchange with her stepson provides an important lesson.

Of all the hard conversations that we face in both our professional and personal lives, conversations about the death of loved ones are among the most painful.

It is not always easy to know what people want and don’t want when they are scared and grieving — even those who are very close to us. We each come to terms with a loved one’s death in different ways and times. What can we do to ease these difficult transitions?

Here are some thoughts:

  • Listen to others with compassion and be willing to do so in silence.
  • Express your concern and offer support.
  • Provide comfort and reassurance without minimizing the loss.

“Final Lessons” is a must read.

You may read about Jeanette at JeanetteReese.com.