Dealing with grief and pain is part of the human experience. It’s one thing to watch someone you love go through it, but it’s another thing when you’re the one amid the suffering.
This is why if we have somebody we love who’s going through so much pain-both physical and emotional-it’s important that we extend as much love and support as they would let us.
If you have a family member, close friend, or loved one who has a terminal illness, here are some ways you can extend love and support.
Honor Them And What They Want
Acknowledge that everyone has different responses to difficult diagnoses. Honor your loved ones by allowing them to feel how they feel about their disease. Avoid dictating or telling them how they should feel, and hold space for their pain.
Let them know their feelings are valid and that you are there to hold their hand through it.
Ask them about what they want.Ask them to be honest with you about how they want to spend the remaining years of their lives and find ways to help them achieve this. For example, if they want to spend their twilight years at a home nursing care, help them do the necessary research and financial preparations.
Give Them The Dignity They Deserve
Bestowing dignity and honor upon our loved ones who have a terminal illness may look something like the following:
- Value their sense of self and privacy. If they can hear you, don’t talk about them like they’re not there. Even if they’re sleeping, leave the room if you must discuss their condition with another person because they might be awake and can still hear you.
- Even if they need help with basic everyday things like bathing, eating, and changing their clothes, remember that they are still their own person and that you need to do it with as much care and respect you can muster.
- Treat them as you normally would, especially before their diagnosis.Close the drapes when they’re changing, and keep them covered using a towel or a sheet when providing care.
Help Them With Their Final Affairs
Not everyone has the faculties to plan for their final days, especially those they will leave behind. Gently lead the conversation towards their final requests, and promise them that you would help those requests come to pass. Ask them about what they would like for their funeral and every other request they might remember.
Go through all the crucial legal and financial paperwork to ensure that your loved one has all their affairs in order before they pass, and place everything in one place so that you know where to find them. You might also need to consult with a lawyer, especially if it involves more official paperwork like a last will.
Assist Them In Making A Wish List
Aside from their official requests, ask them about their non-essential wishes, no matter how mundane they may be. Whether it’s something as simple as going to the beach one last time or seeing one of their favorite movies, make sure thatyou help them accomplish what they want in the time they have left. Partner with their primary care provider to ensure that none of the activities will take too much of a toll on them. Help them see through to the end all the things they want to do and achieve before they say goodbye.
Pay Tribute To Them While They’re Still Alive
If they have difficulty remembering certain memories, make a habit of sharing wonderful and precious memories. Go through old photo albums, bring them to see your old neighborhood, ask them to share some stories about their childhood and maybe some secret family recipes.
Consider asking all of your other family members, or all of their friends, to create a legacy video or something like a legacy book where you can keep memories of your loved one. It can include stories, testimonials, memories, and other kinds of narrations and pictures filled with the best memories all of you have had with your terminally ill loved one. It’s a beautiful way to honor their memory and pay tribute to them while they can still see and hear it.
We grieve because we love. Support your loved one in their twilight years and help them-and yourself-say goodbye with no regrets, no what-ifs, and no what-could-have-been. Life is too short to live otherwise. Lead with love, and help them say goodbye with as much peace and dignity as possible.