When a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness, it’s common to feel grief. When the illness is deemed terminal, it can be painful to talk about the necessary considerations. While no one wants to have these conversations, it’s important to understand how best to care for your loved one and make all of the necessary arrangements. While navigating feelings of shock and denial, you may also be tasked with making numerous decisions you never expected. While the road ahead is filled with its challenges, there are ways you can best be there for your loved one during the end.
Listen, Don’t Talk
Knowing how to offer comfort in this impossibly difficult time can be a challenge. Your loved one is likely going through a range of emotions, and unfortunately, nothing you can say will make the situation easier to handle. Facing the inevitable isn’t easy, but being there for your friend or family member is priority. Instead of lending advice or sweet words, focus your efforts on listening. You may find they come to you with plenty of questions—remember that it’s okay to not have answers. Listen to their fears, regrets, worries, and whatever else they feel comfortable coming to you with. No piece of advice can change the situation, and understanding this from the beginning can make it easier for you to accept the difficulties that lie ahead. Providing them with an avenue to vent their frustrations can bring peace to a tumultuous time, and becoming the go-to listener can help them work through struggles on the road ahead.
Say What You Need to Say
Learning that your loved one is facing an insurmountable health challenge gives you an opportunity to tell them all the things you’d like them to hear before they pass. You have a window of time to squeeze in activities you’d hope to do together and talk about things you may have otherwise left unsaid. For many, this time can serve to help you and your loved one accept the inevitable. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a trip to the Bahamas. Book a last-minute ticket and explore the sights. Perhaps you’ve just wanted to tell them something meaningful for a while and the time has finally come. If you don’t have a life-changing conversation to bring up, that’s okay; sometimes it may be just a matter of learning all the stories you’ve never heard before, or talking about the best memories they have. Affirming that their life experiences have been worthy and focusing on the positive can help them more than you know.
Asking the Tough Questions
Terminal illness requires many difficult conversations, and asking the hard conversations can feel almost impossible. Funeral planning isn’t fun, but it’s a necessary conversation to have. You’ll need to gather the necessary documents, speak with clergy, funeral homes, and other professionals. The most important thing is to ask your loved one what they’d like during the service. If they don’t want to talk about it, talk to family members to get a better idea of the decisions you’ll need to make. The sooner you can get plans in place, the better off you’ll be, and minimizing stress during this difficult time is paramount. The modern funeral costs upwards of $9,000, and without proper preparation this costly amount could wind up on your shoulders. If they don’t already have life insurance or funeral insurance in place, you may need to consider a plan that’s accepting of pre-existing conditions. Check out a site like BurialInsurance.org and browse plans that might be available to you. If they’ve purchased a pre-paid funeral, be sure you know where all the important documentation can be found.
Self-Care is Important
During this time, your focus will likely revolve around your loved one’s comfort and wishes, but it’s important that you take time to pay attention to your own needs. Try to get enough rest each night, consider speaking to a professional therapist if you’re finding it difficult to wade through the many emotions you’re handling, and don’t be afraid to take a break when you need to.
If your loved one has fallen ill with a terminal disease, coping can be difficult. Keep these facets in mind and reduce as much pain and anguish as possible for yourself and your loved one.