Reflect on a time when you were visiting someone who was very sick or dying and felt powerless to change the situation. Did you try to comfort the patient with false hope, or did you steer the conversation away from anything meaningful? Do you find yourself avoiding such situations, not knowing what to say? What is causing this reaction? What fears arise when you see someone dying?

Another difficult exercise. Intentionally seek out an opportunity to be with someone whose illness or infirmity causes you to feel uneasy. Can you be with both your reactions to the disease and the person at the same moment? Attempt to connect with the person and let the infirmity be just as it is. Work toward allowing the person and your reactions to be just as they are, without trying to change either one. See if you can listen through your reactivity without acting upon it. Try to bring the same quality of listening to your fear as you do to the person speaking.

Rodney Smith in The Wisdom of Listening by Mark Brady