What to do For a Loved One

With a Terminal Illness

Imagine one day walking into a room filled with your loved ones only to feel them staring as if you were a complete stranger or, picture how it would feel if they started treating you as if you were made of glass.

Since they were diagnosed with a terminal illness, these are some of the things your friend or family member has experienced.

One day they are having coffee with you sharing hopes and dreams. The next day, you find out they are dying and now you can’t even look them in the face. You are afraid if you hug them they will break, if you sneeze in their direction, they will die. When you look at them you may only see their illness and not the person you love. You want to help them, but how?! What can you do for a friend or family member with a terminal illness?

Start with remembering that they are the same person you knew before their diagnosis. They have the same need to share their hopes, dreams and fears with you and, they still need you to share your hopes dreams and fears with them, even if those fears involve what will happen when they are gone.

They won’t die if you sneeze in their direction. You can’t break them when you hug them. And, many of the fears and worries you have because of the news they have as well and need to share them with someone. They need to sit down and have that coffee with you and share their thoughts with you just as they did before their illness.

They need you to be honest with them. Let them know what you are experiencing, thinking. Try not to be concerned if they seem to be overly sensitive. Remember, they are not only dealing with their illness and all the treatments they may be receiving, but, they are also dealing with people treating them differently. They are under an extreme amount of pressure trying to do the "right" thing for their friends and family and may feel their own needs are lost in the shuffle.

While it is okay to share your thoughts and feelings, be careful not to "force" your own ethics or philosophies on them. There is a very fine line between sharing and shoving your beliefs on your loved one. Be sure that they know you support them and any decisions they may make, even if they decide to request hospice. While it is natural to want your loved one to do whatever it takes for them to remain with you longer, you want them to make the decision that is right for them not right for you.

Now that you know a bit better how to treat your loved one, you might want to know what to expect in the final days and weeks.

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