Taking Care of a Loved One Who is Terminal Ill
A terminal illness affecting a family member or someone you love changes life in general, not only when it comes to providing care and support but also the fear of losing that person. Many families don’t really know how to handle the situation, and may have mixed reactions. If you have a family member or someone you love diagnosed with a terminal illness, it is important to prepare yourself, and don’t just dwell on the matter. Your loved one would want to spend his life with something meaningful and memorable such as watching the sunset, going to the beach, or meeting with friends.
Even if your loved one’s illness is considered terminal, he can still have a quality of life by doing some research about the nature and management of his illness to help him go through the signs and symptoms, and how to somehow relieve them. Use the internet as a resource tool since it is accessible anytime and anywhere you go using different internet-capable mobile devices, and just open a browser like Google or Yahoo then enter the name of the illness (e.g. peritoneal mesothelioma, congenital heart defect, or cervical cancer. Let your loved one know that you are there to provide not only his medical needs but also listen to his concerns. Of course you want your loved one to learn to live as fully as he can and accept his terminal illness, but you don’t have to force it, just allow time to do it basing on his own pacing, and just be there to provide support and assistance when he needs it. Denial is a coping mechanism for people with terminal illness because the reality of knowing you will soon die is really frightening and overwhelming, and denial blocks or protects a person from this reality to prevent being out of control. The most common fears of a person with a terminal illness include loss of control of bodily functions, losing independence, becoming a burden to the family, financial consequences, pain, and death.
It is important to provide your loved one spiritual and psychological support by inviting him to talk about his fears, and seek professional help as needed such as a spiritual counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Don’t hesitate talking about memories and provide affirmation that the life of your loved one matters, and that he will be remembered. You might as well record your conversations as a way of remembering and honoring your loved one. There will come a point that if your loved one feels the time is coming, he will open up the topic of his wishes before he dies, so don;t forget to ask what he wants because there are people who want to die with their loved ones nearby, while there are those who prefer dying alone or privately.
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