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Comfort the Dying

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Priest Luis Padillo offers a dying soldier his last rites.
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It goes without saying that the mere thought of death is a terrifying thing. While we're all going to die one day, nobody wants to go through the process of dying. After all, in fiction, it's usually slow and painful, and while you may be able to get off a Deathbed Confession or two, you'll never be able to say everything you want to say. It's worse still if you haven't lived a full life, or have one or more major regrets.

But it's not all bad. Sometimes, someone will be around to provide comfort in your last moments. In works, this character is usually a loved one of a kind, such as one of the hero's True Companions. Otherwise, it's a Nice Guy who just happens to be there, or it could even be a Pet the Dog moment for a morally ambiguous character. The important part is, this character is here, and they take the time to make the dying feel comfortable and happy before they pass.

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This can result in some subtropes:

The exact opposite is Dying Alone, which is the painful alternative that makes this trope so powerful by contrast. Related and overlapping tropes are Go Out with a Smile, You Are Not Alone, and Died Laughing. This may come from a moment of Delirious Misidentification.

As a Death Trope, spoilers are unmarked!


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Examples (not covered in the subtropes):

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In InuYasha, two monsters of the week named Manten and Hiten. Manten in particular wanted to take Kagome to cure his baldness and look more handsome like Hiten. However, once Inuyasha kills Manten, Hiten tells him that he loves him just the way he was, and then tries to avenge him.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Top 10 sees Peregrine called upon to provide comfort to a pair of aliens who have become fused with each other after a teleportation-related accident. She has the unhappy task of telling them that they will both likely die within a day.

    Films — Animation 
  • The young furlings of Once Upon a Forest have only two days' time in which to retrieve medicinal herbs for the dying moe Michelle. Their adult mentor, Cornelius, cannot accompany them, since he dares not leave Michelle unattended. As the furlings journey forth, Cornelius conducts an agonizing vigil at Michelle's bedside. Although the furlings return with the herbs at the eleventh hour, Michelle remains unresponsive. It's a Disney Death, however.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Thor: The Dark World: After Loki is seemingly fatally stabbed by Kurse, he starts to repeatedly apologize to Thor, gasping and looking distressed. The latter calmly tells him that it's okay and promises to tell their father about his sacrifice while cradling Loki in his arms. At the end of the film it's revealed that Loki faked his death, but Thor remains none the wiser.
    • At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos snaps his fingers causing fifty percent of all living creatures to be Reduced to Dust. Peter Parker's Spider-Sense tells him that he is going to pass away and he gets terrified, sobbing that he does not want to die. Tony Stark hugs him and tries to calm him down before Peter eventually turns to dust.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, is suffering from the Cast from Hit Points effect of the Infinity Gauntlet, which he has just used to utterly disintegrate a Galactic Conqueror and his armies. In his final moments, his best friend, his protégé, and his wife are the ones to comfort him as he struggles to stay alive, but it's a battle Tony is losing, and they all know it, as the toll of the Infinity Gauntlet had already been established as nearly too much for Hulk at peak condition, whereas Tony used it after a prolonged skirmish that left him running on fumes. With Tony's stubbornness serving only to prolong his pain, he finally passes, peacefully, when his wife tells him that they'll be okay thanks to his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, one of the few moments of true decency in the film's otherwise bleak setting is when Blondie (who is supposed to be the titular Good, but has mostly just been A Lighter Shade of Black) finds a young soldier dying in the aftermath of a Civil War battle. Without hesitation Blondie removes his coat and wraps the young man in it to comfort him, then gives the kid One Last Smoke from his cigar. Blondie even ignores the fact that one of his rivals is getting a head start towards the fortune in gold that all the main characters are trying to claim while he stays with the young soldier.
  • In Atonement, this is one of Briony's duties as a nurse during World War I — sitting with dying soldiers and holding their hands so that they don't have to die alone.
  • Viktor Taransky directs S1m0ne and her costar, Hal Sinclair, in his latest production. S1m0ne's character lies abed dying, while Hal's character professes his undying love. Of course, Hal is saying this to an on-set stand-in, because S1m0ne is purely digital, and can only appear as post-production computer graphics.
  • In Big Fish, the "climax" of the film is Will telling his dying father, a lover and teller of tall tales of his life, a tall tale of his own in which Will helps his father escape the hospital and chased by the law enforcement but helped by all the characters from his father's tales until they reach the lake from his youth and becomes the titular fish. Needless to say, his father is more the pleased to leave the mortal coil on that ending.
  • In Heat, after fatally shooting his criminal adversary McCauley during the final shootout at the airport, Lt. Hanna silently holds McCauley's hand as he bleeds to death while planes land and ascend behind them.

    Literature 
  • The Hunger Games:
    • Katniss spends a good chunk of the 74th games bonding with Rue, who reminds her a lot of her beloved little sister, Prim. When Rue gets fatally wounded by Marvel, Katniss stays with her until she dies and uses that time to sing her off.
    • In the 75th games, the tributes are stuck on an island full of timed traps. During an attack by crazed monkey-mutts, an older woman known only as "The female Morphling" sacrificed herself for Peeta. In return, Peeta brought her to the beach and held her until she died, making her Go Out with a Smile.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In a flashback, Shallan comforts her father while she strangles him to death for trying to murder her brother. The knowledge that his Sanity Slippage was partly, albeit inadvertently, caused by her is only part of the Trauma Conga Line of her backstory.
  • Doctor Sleep: After finally overcomming his alcoholism, Dan Torrance finds work in a hospice, where he uses his psychic powers to provide comfort to dying patients. This is what acquires the nickname "Doctor Sleep."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spoofed on Community in the episode "Modern Warfare". After Shirley is eliminated in the paintball match, Britta goes to comfort her.
    Britta: Shirley! Shirley, I am so sorry.
    Shirley: I'm going home, Brit-ta.
    Britta: Yes, you are. Yes, you are.
    Shirley: No, seriously. I'm going home. Can you help me up?
    Britta: Oh. Sure.
  • The Pacific: One of the more emotional moments towards the end of the series has Eugene Sledge stumble onto a dying Okinawan woman in a cabin. He can't do anything more than comfort her, and despite the Language Barrier he stays with her until she dies.
  • House: In the season 6 episode "Lockdown", the hospital is locked down when a baby goes missing from the maternity ward. Dr. House ends up trapped in a room with an elderly man with only a few hours left to live. With nothing else to do, curmudgeonly loner House bonds with the man and helps him say his goodbyes to his daughter by leaving a voice message.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the revolutionary-themed Tabletop RPG Comrades, there is a special mechanic called "Cradle a Dying Comrade", when a Player Character attempts to comfort another who is dying due to loss of all Hit Points. The comforting player makes a single die roll, modified by their Relationship Values with the dying one, and on a good roll, the latter may miraculously survive, or at least leave the former with some Famous Last Words that will inspire their fellow revolutionaries later on (i.e. giving them bonuses on rolls done in memory of their late comrade).

    Video Games 
  • Choice of the Vampire: The Player Character can choose to comfort their grandmother on her deathbed by talking with her, leave her to die alone, or brush off her hopes of seeing an afterlife.
  • In Bioshock Infinite Burial At Sea Episode 2, Elizabeth gives Fontaine the code for a trigger phase for his sleeper agent which in turn would kickstart the plot of the first Bioshock game. Of course not long after he kills her with a wrench (Though nearly doesn't get the code because he brains her before asking what it said as he can't read it. She remains conscious long enough to tell him). However he keeps his word to let the Little Sister he had held captive, Sally, go. As Elizabeth dies (though contently since she knows Jack, the protagonist of the first game, will stop Fontaine and Andrew Ryan, avenge her and save the other Little Sisters), Sally stays with Elizabeth and comforts her with a song in her final moments.
  • In the Golden Ending of Myst IV: Revelation, when the Stranger manages to transfer Sirrus out of Yeesha's body to prevent a Grand Theft Me, Achenar has to force the Life Stone into the old Memory Chamber's heart in order to keep it alive long enough for Yeesha's mind to return. But to do so, he has to break the glass container holding in the heart's toxic gases, and the Stranger has to enter the Dream world to force Sirrus' mind to let go of Yeesha's. After the plan works, Achenar turns up poisoned from the fumes, admitting that he's better off dying after his past atrocities. He lasts long enough for Yeesha to stroke his hair while collapsing in her lap.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition: While Cole can often be found doing this throughout Skyhold for the dying Inquisition soldiers, if he is allowed to stay, many of the Inquisition's soldiers and staff can be overheard commenting on strange happenings throughout Skyhold. It's later revealed that Cole was behind all of them as acts of compassion and mercy. In one particular case, he arranged to spill some peaches over a fireplace, so that the smell would remind a nearby dying soldier of their happiest memories of their home, before passing on. Fittingly, this is because Cole was originally a spirit of Compassion.
  • In Planescape: Torment, there's a potential encounter if you go into the Lower Wards with Dak'kon in your parting as the two of you find a githzeri woman who's dying of a lung disease due to the ward's polluted air. If you allow it, Dak'kon will speak to her and comfort her before giving her a Mercy Kill.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: Downplayed after the fallen Paladin Miko is fatally injured in an explosion of her own doing. The spirit of her order's founder can only manage faint praise for her efforts and doesn't pretend that she's redeemed herself, but concedes that she'll see her celestial horse in the afterlife.
    Miko: OK... OK, then... I can live with that. [dies]
  • Alone, Together has Sergeant Jerom recovering from a cracked skull in the ship's infirmary. Another patient, mummified in bandages, mutters something unintelligible. A combat veteran, Jerom knows severe burns are both painful and deadly. Jerom holds the fellow's hand until, "A life-time later" according to the panel header, medics come to check on them. Jerom is taken back to his bed, while the deceased patient gets the sheet pulled over him. Mutters Jerom to himself, "No one should have to die alone." Chapter 3, page 15, specifically.
  • The Zombie Hunters: One rare variety of zombie is infamous for seeking out hopelessly sick and injured humans, trying to comfort them, protecting them from other zombies, and finally delivering a clean Mercy Kill.

    Web Videos 
  • The Cry of Mann: After Jouglat gets killed by Frank, Ghost Lady stays by him as he passes on, even giving him food and talking him through his pain and fear.
  • An animated short video Trois Petits Chats has a feline father visit his ailing daughter in a hospital. She's in quarantine, and begins a horrifying coughing fit. When no one comes to check on her, the father defies the quarantine and enters the room to give what comfort he can. Almost immediately, his skin begins to fracture like porcelain, a sign that he has contracted the virulent malady. Viewable on YouTube here:[1].

    Web Original 
  • From the SCP Foundation SCP-4999 seems to exist to do this, seeking out lonely, dying subjects and staying until they pass.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League: In "Epilogue", Terry (from Batman Beyond fame) confronts a now aged Amanda Waller about how he's Bruce's biological son. As she explains herself, she relates to him a story in which the Royal Flush Gang reformed (last seen in "Wild Cards") with new members save Ace who had given the others powers. However she had developed an aneurysm from her psychic powers and her death could potentially cause her power to level Gotham from the feedback. Amanda had given Bruce a device that could kill Ace before this happened. But when Bruce got to her, he simply talked with her, knowing that she was simply a scared girl afraid of her impeding death. Thus he stayed with and comforted her to the very end of her life, letting her pass on peacefully and nullifying the threat without violence. This can be seen here.

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