What else can I do for my loved one?

You can encourage your loved one to talk about his or her life. For instance, ask your loved one to talk about how he or she met his or her mate. You might be amazed at the stories your loved one has to share. Talking about memories can also help affirm that your loved one's life mattered and that he or she will be remembered. Consider recording your conversations as a way of honoring the memory of your loved one.

Keep in mind that your loved one is still the same person he or she was before becoming ill. Your loved one will likely still have the same needs, desires and interests.

Is it important to keep a vigil by my loved one when he or she is near death?

Keeping a vigil by your loved one before his or her death can be a sacred experience. Sitting by your loved one's side — even if you feel helpless or powerless — can give your loved one both strength and comfort. Keeping a vigil can also help you ensure that your loved one's pain and symptoms are addressed and that he or she has access to spiritual resources.

Keep in mind, however, that keeping a vigil can be exhausting. If you choose to keep a vigil, be sure to take breaks, drink plenty of fluids, eat balanced meals and accept support from others.

Also, understand that you might not be at your loved one's side when he or she dies. The timing of your loved one's death is beyond your control.

Is it appropriate to tell your loved one that it's all right to let go?

Sometimes it might appear that your loved one is having trouble letting go. If you think your loved one is hanging on for your sake, it's OK to say that you'll be all right and that he or she can let go.

What advice do you have for people who are grieving?

Grief is a natural response to loving and feeling loss that often comes in waves. Emotions can sometimes feel overwhelming, making even simple tasks difficult. This is normal. It doesn't mean that you won't be able to function for the rest of your life. Right now you need to grieve. Keep in mind that grief doesn't necessarily begin when your loved one dies. The grieving process can begin as your loved one's illness progresses or normal roles change.

If you're concerned that you're unable to stop grieving and it's affecting your ability to function, consider seeking professional help.

What do you tell people who are struggling with guilt?

After your loved one dies, you might question whether you did enough or said the right things. Guilt is a normal part of grieving. Often, we come to peace and guilt gradually fades. If you're having trouble dealing with guilt, consider talking to someone who can help you work through your feelings.

Nov. 02, 2012 See more In-depth