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. 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. Inspire your loved one to live life to the fullest by creating new and precious memories together and with family and friends such as having a picnic on the beach, building a sandcastle, watching the sunset together, watching movies, gardening, or writing poems.
You can help your loved one have a quality life even if he is terminally ill by researching about his illness. 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. 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. 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. If possible, you can consider recording your conversation as a way to honor 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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