It is never easy to hear that a loved one is terminally ill. Although death is a certainty for everyone, it is one topic that we can never be comfortable with. The truth is, most of us find it hard to accept.
Hong Kong College of Family Physicians mentioned that a dying patient is one of the most difficult and challenging cases to encounter. Physicians are often times forced to reflect on their own mortality. While the pain is evident, there is a call to help make every death a “good one.”
It does, however, seem impossible to view death as something “good” – especially when you see your loved one ill and suffering. It is never an easy sight to see your loved one become weaker each day. While physicians play an important role in the care of your terminally ill loved one, you also have a big responsibility. You will be the one to provide them with care 24/7. This comes with many sacrifices from your side.
What can you do for a loved one who is terminally ill?
Don’t pretend you know the right thing to do.
After the diagnosis, things will be chaotic. And when it is chaotic, it is our natural reaction to pretend that we are in control. Well, if it involves something as serious as having a loved one dying, it is okay to not be in control. It is okay to be unaware of what to do. Go easy on yourself because when you start feeling stressed, it will affect your loved one. According to an article from WebMD.com, everyone’s journey towards death is different. So, you cannot compare what your family is going through with that of others. Your role is to simply be there. You do not have to be armed with comforting words – you can be quiet and resilient as you stand with your loved one who is fighting for his or her life.
Understand the process of acceptance.
Another thing that you need to work on is the process of acceptance. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, the author of On Death and Dying, said that those diagnosed with a serious illness will go through 5 stages. The first is denial, then comes anger, after which is bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. It can be long or short, depending on your loved one. You can help usher them towards each phase while encouraging them along the way. The faster they reach acceptance, the easier it will be for everyone.
Respect their decisions.
Despite their physical condition, it is important to respect your loved one’s decision. They should be allowed to decide how and where they want to pass away. For instance, they can opt to do it in the hospital where they get round-the-clock nurses to care for their needs. Of course, this will be costly. But in case they want to stay at home, then respect their wishes even if it means that you will bear the weight of caring for them. With the little time that you have with them, it should be time well spent.
Grieve with them.
Grieving is proven to be an important process. It is a way to heal ourselves of the past so that we can move on to the future with memories of our loved one. It is okay to grieve but do it as a family. Share your feelings and be honest with your thoughts. This will make it easier for everyone when those thoughts are shared.
Keep things peaceful.
Expect that tensions will arise, especially when the patient is going through a painful phase. You need to extend your patience and understand the situation. Keep the peace at home because that will help make things better for your sick loved one.
Finally, the best thing that you can do is to fill your family with abundant love. This is what your family ultimately needs. It will help keep things positive and will provide all of you with moral support as you go through this difficult time together.
Financial considerations when someone you love is terminally ill
As hard as it may be, you need to start preparing for your life without your loved one. It may seem callous but it is important to think of your future, and especially of your finances when he or she is gone. Here are the important things that you need to work on while your loved one is still around.
- Think about financial provision. If the person who is ill used to be the breadwinner, you need to make sure that you are ready to take on this task for the family or at least, identify someone who should.
- Initiate estate planning. You need to make arrangements for the estate that they will leave behind – especially if you have kids and it is your spouse who has the terminal illness. Discuss with your loved one about any assets that they have. You can get in touch with the executor and check the documents. Talk about the details of the will with your loved one to see if they want to make any changes. You should also be prepared to pay the estate taxes and other inheritance fees and charges. If you have the time and if your loved one is still strong enough (physically and mentally) to help arrange it, you may want to transfer titles to your name or your children’s.
- Check all insurance policies. There may be updates needed on the beneficiaries of the policies. Not only that, your loved one may be entitled to additional claims during this time that will help pay the medical costs.
- Research employer or government benefits. If your loved one used to work before they were diagnosed, you may want to check these benefits out. They can help you reduce your expenses.
- Be prepared for the funeral and burial/cremation costs. These will vary depending on where you hold the funeral and burial/cremation of your loved one.