You’ve just experienced the worst thing you’ll likely ever experience. Your loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. As if the news in and of itself wasn’t enough to crush you, there are decisions to be made. You not only need to be there for this person in an emotional sense but you’re also tasked with making plans for what happens when the inevitable occurs. Balancing these two things can be extremely challenging, but this blog post can help. Read on for tips on how to proceed when someone you love has been told they have a terminal illness.
This is the first step. You might not want to face it, you might want to stay under the covers for days or even weeks instead of dealing with your new normal. Sadly, it’s not going away, and denial certainly isn’t going to lower your stress level either. Your loved one needs to know that you’re going to show up no matter how hard it is to do so.
When it comes to emotional support, take cues from your loved one. As much as you shouldn’t pretend this isn’t reality, you also don’t want to overwhelm him or her on days when she might not be up to the tasks at hand. Perhaps there will be some days when your loved one will just want to sleep, and that’s fine, too. You need to consider this person’s physical state on top of everything else. If you notice they’re having a good day, perhaps this is when you might want to ask the tough questions (if you haven’t done so already). What does she envision for her funeral? Are the necessary arrangements made? Does he have a will? You might already know these things but, if not, they are questions that need to be asked at one point or another.
Knock out the Necessary Tasks
You likely don’t want to broach the subject of a funeral right away if they’ve been given a few years to live, but once you deem it is appropriate, you need to help them take care of the arrangements. As Kelly Harvey, MS, PT, CHHC, says of wills and other estate matters, “Keep it all in a folder, with an agenda sheet in front, to allow the patient to review the documents at their comfort, if possible.” Find out what your budget is and act accordingly. Hopefully your loved one has thought to combat high burial costs with burial insurance. If this person has unfortunately left his fate to chance and is risking a huge financial crisis, you might consider running a GoFundMe crowdsourcing campaign to help handle funeral costs.
Divide and Conquer the Tasks at Hand
They might not feel physically terrible right away but they’ll surely get there at some point. Physical pain and exhaustion will prevent him from getting the necessary chores done around the house. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others to help your loved one. Ask family members and friends to assist with what needs to get done, and consider even setting up a calendar so each person knows what to do on what day. You might also want to send out a Meal Train announcement. This site helps people organize a schedule for delivering meals to a person in need. It’s a fantastic resource, as it’s user-friendly and even allows you to specify what this person can and can’t eat. There’s a good chance that your terminally ill loved one will have quite a few dietary restrictions moving forward.
Finding out a loved one is terminally ill is a huge blow but with a bit of help, organization, and an abundant amount of compassion, you’ll be prepared to offer all they need in their final days.