If only there were a guide out there that gave us insight into dealing with a terminally ill family member. The uncertainty of death has such a profound impact on human beings that even though we know it’s coming, it’s hard to cope when losing a loved one.
Terminal illness can be an unfortunate part of anyone’s life. Anyone can contract a disease or life-threatening condition. Often at times, there aren’t any signs, no pre-dispositions, and no real reason why these people should have this disease. However, when nature has to strike, it does ruthlessly.
Dealing with a family member suffering from a life-threatening disease can be emotionally and physically tasking. However, whatever we feel is much easier compared to what the patient is going through. In this challenging time, all we can do is make the journey a bit easier for them.
If you want to learn how you can support a terminally ill loved one, keep reading below. Often, even the most minor steps can make the most significant difference.
Educate them about the illnesses
Rarely do terminal patients know what to expect from the illness. Especially those caught off guard may not understand what’s going on. You may teach them about the disease and tell them what to expect. There is a considerable degree of fear which comes with not knowing about your terminal illness. If you can, play a part in easing the uncertainty and teaching them about what lies ahead. The treatment, symptoms, and outcomes all need to be established to understand what they are dealing with entirely.
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Help them with unfinished business.
Terminally ill patients are often nearing the end of their lives. It would be a shame if they had unfinished business before they died. Most people like to leave with a clean slate; therefore, if you can help them finish whatever they need to do in this life, please do so. You never know how much a bit of assistance could help these people when their time finally comes.
Mending bridges with estranged family members, donating to charity, getting back in touch with religion, and drawing up a will are common thoughts people with terminal illnesses have.
It may be something as simple as tracking down a long-lost loved one through your social media so that they can say goodbye. Finishing everything on their list can help them feel much more satisfied and can help them prepare to leave without having any regrets.
Talk about the good times.
When coming to terms with death, people often latch onto the past as a means to cope. Talking about their lives and the things they have done is a way for them to justify that they have lived a good life and it’s okay to let go. Moreover, the past offers a sense of comfort in such an uncertain present. If something like talking about their old memories brings them comfort, let them speak and listen to the stories they have to tell.
Simply being there to listen to what they have to say can make a world of difference. Listening can be one of the best ways to support your terminally ill loved ones, and you can be sure they would appreciate it more than you ever know.
Support them spiritually
As they draw closer to the end of their lives, many may begin to question their faith and spiritual experiences. Living through a terminal illness can be an incredibly unique experience that challenges everything you’ve believed in thus far. Without ample support, people can begin to lose faith and descend a path of hopelessness. So, it would help if you indulged in whatever they feel and help them reconcile their beliefs.
You can listen to what they have to say or ask questions to develop a better understanding. If they want to indulge in prayer or any other religious tradition, being with them can help them find solace. Belief in an afterlife can often reduce the uncertainty associated with death and help the patients cope better.
Provide physical comfort
While emotional support is undeniably vital when dealing with a terminally ill loved one, physical comfort is equally essential. You want to ensure that their last moments are as comfortable for them as possible. People near the end of their lives may suffer from swelling, dryness, bedsores, pain, and skin irritation. Simple measures like wiping their face with a damp cloth, applying petroleum jelly, changing their clothes, and adjusting the temperature can help them relax as much as possible.
When you provide your loved ones with all kinds of support in their last moments, they may have a much more positive outlook on dying.
Caring for a loved one in their last moments can be an incredibly emotional experience. It can be challenging to watch their condition deteriorate despite your best efforts. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that death is, ironically, a part of life. In those last moments, it’s your love that matters most. Your constant support through each step can help them ease into the journey and pass away peacefully.