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Supporting a Temporary ill Loved One

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Written by   56
8 months ago

When a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness, it is natural to go through an emotional process similar to grief. If the sickness is terminal, it is critical to discuss death and make plans for the end of life. These discussions can be tough and traumatic, but there are methods to make them less painful for both you and your loved one.

Being diagnosed with a terminal illness

When you find that someone you care about has a life-threatening illness, time appears to stand still. Perhaps you shoved the news away reflexively. Maybe you sobbed or swung into action. Regardless of what transpired that day, time and life continue to pass after the diagnosis is made—regardless of whether you feel prepared to cope.

You and your loved one may have investigated promising treatments and gotten some relief from the looming sickness. However, the illness may progress to the point where it is terminal, and the end is approaching. Once you have determined that additional therapies are unlikely to be beneficial, there is a lot you can do to rally support for both of you.

Some of the help you require is emotional. The fears and sensations that are coming to the surface now are better addressed than ignored. Some of the assistance you require is practical in nature. End-of-life care must be arranged, and funeral arrangements must be made. Legal and financial issues must be addressed immediately or within a few days of the death. This post will walk you through some of these stages and offer additional resources for you to use.

Managing Anticipatory Grief

When someone they care about becomes gravely ill, many people experience anticipatory grieving. Anticipatory mourning refers to dealing with and grieving a loss before it occurs.

When someone is diagnosed with a serious disease, there are numerous losses to mourn even before the person becomes terminally ill—for both the person dying and their family and friends. Blows to independence and security, diminished abilities, and shortened future visions are just a few examples of the tragic losses people suffer.

As with mourning following a death, family and friends may experience a range of emotions as they adjust to their new reality. During this period, typical emotions include:

  • sorrow

  • Anxiety

  • anger

  • acceptance

  • depression

  • denial

Depending on the nature of your sickness and the nature of your connection, you may feel closer and more motivated to make the time you have left count. Perhaps you are extremely concerned about what is to come, or you are so concentrated on last-resort therapy that you continue to ignore any thoughts of the end. You may be longing for relief or feeling guilty and torn.

Although not everyone experiences anticipatory grieving, those who do should expect to feel all of these emotions. You might find the following actions reassuring:

  • Speak with sympathetic friends or family members, particularly those who have been through comparable experiences.

  • Join an online or in-person support group.

  • Read novels or listen to audiotapes made specifically for caregivers.

Making the Effort to Say Goodbye

Although it is terrible in many ways, a terminal disease allows you to say "I love you," express your gratitude, and make reparations when necessary. When death strikes unexpectedly, people frequently lament the fact that they did not get the opportunity to do these things.

Ira Byock, author of Dying Well and a lifelong hospice advocate, recommends that dying persons and their families communicate the following words:

  • I adore you

  • I accept your apology.

  • Please forgive me.

  • Thank you very much

  • Goodbye

Dying people may hold on to life because they believe others are not ready to let them go. Tell your loved ones that it is okay to let go when they are ready. The knowledge that you will be able to continue—perhaps to assist children grow or to realize another common dream—can be enormously relieving.

How to Discuss Death

It is often tough to talk about dying. You may be concerned that you will undermine your spouse's determination to persevere or that you will engulf your pal in fear. Speaking about death may appear to be a type of desertion since it implies you have given up on the hope of a cure. Because of your own worry, anguish, and pain, the words may choke in your throat.

However, physicians who care with persons who are dying of a terminal illness point out the following:

  • Some people want reassurance. Some people nearing the end of their lives are reassured by the sense that they would be loved rather than abandoned, regardless of what happens.

  • Some people want to talk. They may grow tired of putting on a brave front or avoiding a topic that looms so huge that every other conversation hits false notes.

  • Some people are fearful, and they want to be understood. They may be suppressing their own multiple anxieties, such as abandoning loved ones, losing control, being a burden, and abandoning tasks and plans. Many people fear a terrible death or the concerns of others being reflected in them. Sharing such anxieties and ideas about death can make people feel less overwhelmed and alone. It can also alleviate physical discomfort, which is exacerbated by dread.

Taking tackle this challenging conversation

Clearly, not everyone who is terminally sick is prepared to discuss death. So, how will you know when and what to say? The words listed below may be of assistance to you. In this tough time, your duty is simply to open the door to this dialogue and vow to stay for it if the person you care about wishes to speak to.

Looking for opportunities. A sermon or song you heard, a book you read, or the manner in which someone else's illness and death unfolded might all provide fodder for remarks that open the door. By commenting, you indicate that you are ready to discuss and do not need to be shielded.

Gently bring up the subject. Psychiatrist and author of On Death and Dying Elisabeth Kübler-Ross describes conversations that begin with the simplest question: "How sick are you?"

While you may be too close to make that enquiry, you can ask the following questions:

  • What are you concerned about?

  • How can I assist you?

  • Is there anything else you would like to discuss?

Try not to dismiss tentatively mentioned anxieties with reassuring statements like:

  • That is a long time away.

  • You are not a burden, of course.

Instead, asking specific questions may be beneficial. Depending on your loved one's comfort level and openness to issues, you could ask them the following questions:

  • What are you contemplating?

  • What would constitute a nice death?

Sharing your opinions on the nature of a good death may be beneficial.

Seeking spiritual guidance. Consult your religious leader or a counselor. Priests, rabbis, and other religious leaders can provide genuine solace to believers. Even those who do not routinely attend religious services may become more religious as their sickness advances.

Inquire about hospice care. Hospice workers and hospital social workers can also assist you and the sick person in dealing with the issues of dying. Even if you do not wish to use the entire spectrum of hospice care, some options are frequently available.

Request the assistance of a doctor. A doctor's certainty regarding how physical symptoms will manifest and how pain will be managed is priceless. Some doctors can also ask about fears in a gentle manner. Recognize, however, that it is not uncommon for doctors (and nurses) to avoid discussing death. Some people are adamant about doing everything and see death as a failure. They, like everyone else, have their own worries and discomforts to contend with.

Allow it to go. During the course of an illness, and even during a single conversation, Kübler-Ross observed that people drift into and out of denial. It can be difficult to think about or discuss death at times. Allow your loved ones to cease tough conversations. Allow them to cling to reassuring beliefs and imaginations.

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Written by   56
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