Even though death is a completely natural aspect of life, this fact doesn’t provide any comfort when it comes to those we love most. Whether your loved one is suffering from a terminal illness or has succumbed to old age, dealing with such a challenging and emotional notion as impending loss is one of the most difficult situations we will ever be faced with. And while you might never be fully prepared for the passing of a loved one, there are certain steps you could take in order to prepare for the practicalities, as well as the inevitable emotions that come with loss:

Spend quality time with your loved one

As your loved one is nearing the end of their life, one of the most important things you could do for them is simply spending some quality time together. Talk to your loved one if you are able, offer your help, support, or simply your presence to ease their suffering as much as possible, and don’t attempt to hide your emotions, as telling your loved one how much you care about them and how much you will miss them will surely mean a lot.

Although this might be incredibly difficult and uncomfortable, you will cherish this time spent together in the future, and it might even help you avoid regret, and allow you to deal with grief in a healthier and easier manner.

Ensure you know your loved one’s wishes

If you have the opportunity, it would be wise to delicately and empathetically ask your loved one whether they already have certain arrangements, such as a funeral, in place, or what their wishes are in case no arrangements have been made. While this might be a difficult conversation, it’s important to assure your loved one that you want their wishes to be honored and met after their passing.

This would also be a good time to ask your loved one if they have a last will and testament in place. In case they don’t, and are still in reasonably good health, now could be the best time to write a will, in an effort to ensure your loved one’s choices will be respected.

Consider arranging a reading of the will

If your loved one has written a will, it might be best to have a meeting with the family or other beneficiaries in which the document will be read out to everyone present. Even though this is not an official requirement, such a meeting can allow beneficiaries to familiarize themselves with the will, and receive any further explanations from the executor.

To that end, it’s advised to arrange a reading of the will with a trusted estate lawyer after your loved one has passed away. This meeting will allow all beneficiaries to understand the terms of the will better and receive advice on different options that are available to them, allowing everyone involved to make more informed choices before the final decision has been made.

Take end-of-life care into consideration

When our loved ones are nearing the end of their life, it’s only natural we wish to make this process, no matter how harrowing, a bit easier for those we care about the most. For that reason, in case your loved one is currently in the hospital or at home, it might be wise to provide them with more specialized, end-of-life care.

Whether this means receiving end-of-life care at home, in a care home, or even in a hospice, healthcare professionals will be able to provide your loved one with specialized care aimed to ease their pain and offer additional support, allowing your loved one to go through this experience in a more peaceful manner.

Prepare yourself emotionally for the loss

Loss is one of the most challenging things we will have to deal with in our lifetime. Grief often comes with deep sadness, anger, confusion, and a feeling that a part of ourselves is now missing. And even though these are all completely natural emotional responses to loss, there are still ways you could prepare yourself in advance, in order to make this experience less painful and distressing.

For instance, you might want to build a support network of family, friends, and other caring people, take good care of yourself and set aside some alone time to deal with your emotions, consider consulting a psychologist or therapist to provide help, or anything else that might make your loss that much easier to handle.

While one can never fully prepare for the loss of a loved one, the advice mentioned above will have hopefully allowed you to make this process a little less difficult and painful experience for everyone involved.

What other advice do you have for preparing for the loss of a loved one? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.