I came upon a helpful list of things to do and not do from a brief training I attended years ago.
  1. DO have a plan for your visit, but be flexible.
  2. DO govern the length of your visit by the condition of the patient.
    DON'T wear the patient out.
  3. DON'T begin with, "How are you feeling?" or "You look great!"
    How the patient feels will come out.
  4. DO begin with, "I want to be with you for a little bit and remind you that you're not forgotten."
  5. If you are someone who prays, DO pray before you visit and offer to pray with the patient if appropriate.
  6. DON'T bring gloom into the room.
  7. DON'T tell of similar situations.
  8. DON'T change the subject if they want to talk about dying.
  9. DO ask, "What are you thinking about?" or "Would you like to talk?"
  10. DO treat them normally and be yourself.
    In that body is an attractive personality that has maybe just been diminished.
  11. DON'T be afraid of silence.
    It gives people time to think.
  12. DON'T say, "I know how you feel."
  13. DON'T say, "Just let me know if there is anything that I can do."
    DO something you know needs to be done.
  14. DO ask, "How can I help?"
  15. DO be ready for unexpected comments or questions.
  16. DO remember that things are not always as they seem.
  17. DO keep the needs of the primary caregiver in mind.
    Things you can offer: encouragement, relief (practical needs, sitting with patient), validation (an outlet to talk).
  18. DO think before you speak.
    And remember that in a coma, patients can hear what you say.
  19. DO be prepared that you will be confronted by your own finitude.