When you are told an older member of your family has a terminal illness, it’s incredibly difficult to know how to react. You will likely experience a maelstrom of different emotions, and it’s important to remember that each feeling is completely valid.
You will likely feel absolutely heartbroken, even if your loved one had been in failing health and bad news had been expected. You may also feel shocked; concerned, worried, rattled and — perhaps above all else — confused.
If you have found yourself trying to cope with a terminal diagnosis for an older family member, then no blog post is going to be able to list the ways you can cope. However, you may find the following insights beneficial as you struggle to adapt to this sudden change.
#1 – Focusing on “time left” can be problematic for both you and your loved one
When someone is issued a terminal diagnosis, the immediate question is: “how long?”
Realistically, this question is irrelevant. The length of time someone has left until death isn’t useful to know; it’s the quality of the life they will be able to live that counts. Focus on quality rather than focusing on days, weeks, months, or whatever the prognosis is.
#2 – There’s help available, for everyone
For your loved one, there are plenty of solutions that can help ensure they are as well cared for as possible. From medical treatment to hospice assistance from the likes of Cura-HPC, there’s plenty of people you can rely on to assist your family member during this difficult time.
However, it’s important to also think about your own health — and particularly your own mental health — during this difficult time. Caring for someone who is terminally ill is tough for anyone’s emotions, especially if you are trying to ensure you stay cheerful for the sake of your loved one. It’s important to talk to someone to help you process your feelings; therapy can be beneficial, or just chatting things out with a trusted friend can help to lighten the load.
#3 – Distract yourself from making memories
It’s important to remember that people with terminal diagnoses can live for years. If you focus too much on “making memories” or “making the most of the time we have left”, then you’re likely to find yourself over-stimulated and trying too hard to make everything special.
The best thing you can hope for is normality. You continue your relationship with your loved one, you continue to enjoy one another’s company, and that’s all there is to it. You don’t need to force yourself to make memories or help someone tick things off a bucket list; just let things be.
The feeling of being told an older member of your family is terminally ill is extremely disturbing. You may think that you were prepared for such an outcome due to their age, but nothing can quite ready you for the news that no one wants to hear. During this time, it can be beneficial to keep the above points in mind, and never be afraid to ask for help if you find yourself struggling to cope.