How can I broach the subject of giving "permission" to die with my Dad?

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I know about giving "permission" to die, but although his health is deteriorating he has no terminal diagnosis (other than being 97). I don't know how or when to broach the subject. I don't want him to think I wish he would die, but I want him to know if he's ready it's ok. Also with him being deaf I have to write everything to him and comprehension isn't always there, especially with anything lengthy. Just writing "It's OK to die now." seems a little harsh to say the least. Any suggestions??

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What makes you think he is ready to die? Being deaf? Being 97? As you pointed out, neither is a terminal (6 months or less) condition by any means. I think you are trying to get ready for him to die, and its OK to be emotionally prepared to some degree, but actually, there is some life left that you should be making the most of in whatever way possible instead. What does he still enjoy?

Its not a bad idea to say the good stuff that needs said, as Angel suggests. If something happens to take him away suddenly you will have a blessing for that. My dad and I had said the I love yous and I'm proud of yous and meant it, and that was consolation when I could not get back in time for his actual passing, which was due to pneumonia turning into sepsis rather than just clearing up with Rx as usual.
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Do you have a DNR (Do not resuscitate) on him? Do you have his Power of Attorney for health and property? I hope all of those are in place. If not, now is a great time to start asking him simple questions about what he wants done if his heart stops. Does he want to be "brought back" or just let go? Does he want a feeding tube if he can't eat any more? That's one way to get the conversation started.

If you have all of those in place, then you could just ask him what he's most proud of in his life. Start asking about his life in general terms. But don't be surprised if he's not very forthcoming. My dad (who was almost deaf at 92) never had much to say about his life, even when asked.
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Maybe you can frame that a little differently. Instead of saying "its ok to die" say something more like...thank you for making me the person i am today, you have given me (fill in the blank such as determination, drive, a career path, ability to take care of myself, compassion etc) which will allow me to take care of myself. In effect telling him that you will be ok...no matter what happens.

Angel
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Usually when family lets their loved one know that it's OK to pass now the person is already dying. Like, in a bed, barely conscious dying. The 'giving permission' thing is the family letting the dying person know that it's OK to let go whenever they're ready. I've never heard of anyone telling someone who isn't dying that it's OK to die.
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