Taking Care of Someone You Love with Terminal Illness
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. Most people don’t know how to react and how to deal with the situation. 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. Expect that your loved one will surely want to spend his life at its fullest and build precious memories, so be there to show support to his simple request and wishes like going to the sea to get some fresh air or swim, watching his favorite movies, viewing the sunset, or meeting with old 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. The Internet is a very good source of information, all you have to do is to open a browser with Google or Yahoo, and enter into the search engine the terminal illness you are trying to search for like peritoneal mesothelioma, congenital heart defect, or lung cancer. It will be very helpful being always beside your loved one to listen to his concerns, and be someone he can cry on and narrate his past, his current thoughts and emotions. Allow time for your loved one to pour his emotions and thoughts, and don’t force acceptance because there is no right or wrong when it comes to death. 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. A a terminally ill person faces a lot of fears that may include pain, financial consequences, becoming a burden to the family, loss of autonomy and bodily functions, and death.
You can emotionally and spiritually support your loved one by talking about his fears, and seeking professional help from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or spiritual counselor. It is important to talk about life and death if your loved one opens the topic, and affirm that his life mattered and 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.