Planning for Less Stress When Supporting a Terminally Ill Loved One
Death is, without a doubt, one of the hardest parts of life. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you know this better than anyone. Dealing with terminal illness when it’s in your own family can seem like an impossible feat. While there is no easy way to work through the emotionally daunting process of mourning your loss, there are some steps that can make certain aspects of this situation a little easier.
Consider Decluttering and Organizing Their Home
One of the most formidable tasks for surviving family members is bereavement decluttering, or sorting through the belongings of a loved one who has recently passed away. Even a project as seemingly trivial as removing a closet’s contents can be weighted with emotions when so closely connected to death. That is why it may be beneficial to combine this time-consuming chore with an effective method for dealing with any feelings of bereavement or bewilderment.
For the terminally ill and their family members, participation in an online grief support program can make all the difference in accepting impending death with clarity and positivity. Dealing with the decluttering task during life is becoming more of a preference for those who are aging or facing a terminal illness. Also known as dostdaning, the act of minimizing belongings and organizing the home can actually be therapeutic. You can offer to help your loved one work through this cleaning process and make sure they leave behind essentials that can help bereaved family members, such as online passwords and any pertinent account information.
Talk Together About Final Wishes and Arrangements
Facing death is never free of worry or pain, but when dealing with terminal illness, planning for the final stages of it can relieve some of the burdens for patients and family members. It’s important for your loved one to talk to their healthcare provider about what to expect and for them to share this information with anyone who may be involved in their care. Physicians also play a critical role in connecting terminally ill individuals with hospice services that will be needed at some point. There is mounting evidence that hospice care should be provided much sooner in the process, so discuss palliative care options thoroughly with your loved one.
Another important planning step is to have an open conversation with your loved one about their final wishes and expectations, especially if you will be involved in planning their memorial. You can use a funeral planning checklist to make sure you do not miss any important details during this emotional dialogue and also be more aware of any expenses.
Remember That Being There is What’s Most Important
When you care so much for someone, the prospect of talking about their death can leave you feeling apprehensive. You may not even understand all of the feelings you have as you anticipate letting go, but it’s important to note that everyone handles this situation differently. However you feel about losing your loved one, allow yourself to process your thoughts and emotions. Reach out to other friends and family members who can provide the support you need, and most importantly, don’t avoid spending time with the person you are preparing to lose. Many people make the mistake of avoiding the terminally ill because they think it will make the process harder, or they are not sure what to talk about. If you do not take advantage of the time you have left, however, you are likely to end up only regretting your decision. So, make time to connect with your loved one using words or a caring gesture. Of course, it’s also important to take care of yourself during this emotional time. Allow yourself time to grieve and give them support, but also allow time for some soothing self-care.
Dealing with a terminal illness in the family also means dealing with a lot of heartache and stress. While you cannot take away all of the pain, you can tame some tension by helping your loved one with a few difficult tasks. May you and your family find comfort during this difficult time.
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