The most heartbreaking time in life is when a loved one gets diagnosed with a terminal illness. Not only does the patient suffer from a range of emotions, but their family members also face trauma. It is challenging for everyone, and people get overwhelmed by the flood of information and treatment. Well-meaning acquaintances share reliable and unreliable information about the illness.
Sometimes, patients do not have more than a few months left. So, priorities shift as close ones face emerging challenges and concerns. The patient may want to spend more time with their family instead of seeking treatment to extend their life. Others may want to focus more on interventions to extend their lifespan.
No matter how old you are, dying is a terrifying concept. Everyone deals with it differently. Some people may feel numb, while others come into action. With time you may experience shock, anger, resentment, helplessness. Still, patients can follow a few practical steps to deal with a terminal diagnosis.
- Learn more about the condition: People fear the unknown. So, arm yourself with knowledge about your disease. Research the symptoms and stage of your situation. You can consult experts about the physical, mental, and emotional effects of your illness. Online forums are also excellent resources for practical advice about terminal ailments. Recognize symptoms to improve your quality of life through palliative care. Some diseases, like mesothelioma- a rare form of cancer, qualify patients for compensation from employers. Most patients suffering from malignant mesothelioma inhaled asbestos fibers in their workplaces. So, they can claim financial compensation from their employers who put them at risk.
- Forgive yourself for not dealing with things: A terminal illness diagnosis is terrifying and devastating. Therefore, people experience several emotions, from resentment to depression and anger. Do not feel guilty about not doing well with loss because everyone has a unique grieving process. Forgive yourself for days when you lash out at others and do not handle things well.
- Prioritize things vital for you: Patients with terminal illnesses do not have much time left in this world. Therefore, they may want to enjoy their life as much as they want. You are the best judge of your character, so think about the things most important to you. Ask yourself: do you want to pursue treatment to prolong your life?Or do you want to spend quality time you’re your loved ones as illness takes its toll? Most patients feel helpless after a diagnosis of a terminal illness. Taking charge of your treatment can help you alleviate helplessness and fear.
- Plan for your death: You may not control when you depart, but you can plan to die on your terms. You still have the power to choose where you die. The nature of your illness and your treatment plan will influence your decisions. Some people may prefer to die at home, surrounded by their family. Others might want to live in nursing homes so that skilled professionals can treat them adequately. Discuss your options with your doctors, and then put your treatment plan into action.
- Talk about your disease: Your disease is traumatic for you and your dear ones. They are also going through similar emotions as they come to terms with your illness. People may seem awkward and uncertain around you. They may worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. Put them at ease by talking about your illness. Talk about future issues such as child support, financial problems, and other practicalities. It is better to let it all out instead of bottling it in. Let them know that you appreciate their support and love in this challenging time.
- Process your paperwork: Most people do not think about their Will during their lives. According to a survey, 68 percent of Americans do not have an estate plan. Remember to take the time out to think about your Will and insurance paperwork. Terminally ill patients should initiate an advanced healthcare directive to provide input about the treatment plan. The document has two parts. The first is the power of attorney or proxy. It names someone who can make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. The second is a Living Will related to the treatments you want. You can also include a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order.
- Plan your funeral: The funeral of a loved one is a very traumatic event. Your family members may not be able to do all that they can on the day. You can help them by planning your funeral. There are several services available, from cremation to burials. Preplan your memorial service according to your wishes. You can ask someone in your family to help you with the specifics. Choose the form of body disposition and the type of service.
- Say it all: Sudden deaths leave survivors with overwhelming guilt because they recall what they wanted to say to their loved ones. So, you should tell your friends and family how much you love them. Discuss painful topics and clear out the air. It is better to hash everything out instead of leaving things unsaid. Tell everyone how proud you are of them and let them know that their feelings are valid.
- Live every moment: Throughout our lives, people tell us to live every moment and make memories. However, we often forget to do as we move from one thing to the next. Terminally ill patients have very few days left, so they should make the most of everything. However, making memories is not about going on mega vacations or expensive events. Appreciate every moment with your close ones.
In the days ahead, you may find yourself struggling with your emotions. You may feel like you have to get through a long list of painful tasks before you leave. While all these steps are vital, you can take a few days to make time for yourself. Make memories your loved ones can cherish after you are gone. Do whatever you can to find joy in life.