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Coping With A Loved One's Terminal Illness

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 10 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Coping Cancer Health Illness Death Grief

Coping with a loved one’s terminal illness may be one of the hardest challenges that you face in your life. Terminal illnesses are those from which there will be no recovery, so in effect when you face a terminal illness you face an illness that will lead to death and, for family and friends, the pain of loss. There is no right way to cope with a loved one’s terminal illness, only the way that is most suitable for you and your family. However, seeking guidance from a counsellor member of the clergy when a loved one is dying is quite common helps many people deal with their emotions.

Changing Relationships Due to Terminal Illness

When a loved on is diagnosed with a terminal illness (s)he may react in different ways. Some people become more of what they already are, so that patient or flexible people become even more so, while other people seem to become the exact opposite of what they were, so that patient people become impatient or angry people become calm. There is usually no way to tell how an individual will react to news of deteriorating health, but it is important for friends and family to remember that their loved ones are entitled to their emotions. It is also important to remember that these emotions may impact family relationships and friendships, so these changes should not come as a shock.

Dealing with Denial about a Terminal Illness

When faced with the fact that a loved one is dying, some family members and friends are unable to cope with this prognosis. Sometimes it may be the ill person who denies that (s)he is dying. This is because denial is actually a coping mechanism. Usually denial comes into play because the individual is too frightened or worried about the future to entertain thoughts of it. However it may be that these people just need some gentle questioning in order to be able to speak about their thoughts and fears. Sometimes all individuals in denial need is the knowledge that others are ready and willing to support them and they are able to discuss their emotions and move beyond denial.

Seeking Support from Family

Often those who are supporting a loved one with a terminal illness need support themselves and families can become united in grief. Children need their parents and parents need their children. Spouses need each other. Siblings come together to offer support. Unfortunately, some family members may be so involved in their own emotions that they may not be able to provide the support that others need. In these situations support groups, such as for families of cancer victims, can be invaluable. Private counselling or counselling with a member of the clergy may also be important for those who feel they need extra support through this tough time.

Coping with a loved one’s terminal illness is often a difficult task. Recognising the different emotions that may influence this period is important in order to cope in a healthy, productive manner.

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