Coping with a Loved One's Terminal Illness
When you talk about grief, one of the most overused phrases is that “the loss of a loved one is never easy.” Yes, I will agree that losing someone is difficult and the grief can be overwhelming. But this is not the worst kind of pain. When someone important in your life passes away, it hurts. But what hurts even more, is having to watch them go.
I want to share with you my battle with grief. In September of 2015, my wife Janice was diagnosed with ALS. And that was the day that everything changed, and my journey with grief began.
Janice was the love of my life. We first started dating when we were fifteen years old, and we stayed by each other’s side for 58 wonderful years. She gave me three beautiful and healthy children, traveled the world with me, and could change my day with a simple peck on the cheek. I loved everything about her. And I think about her every day.
When Janice was first diagnosed, the doctors estimated she had about two years left. Unfortunately, our time was cut short, and she was gone in six months. Those six months were the hardest of my life. I had to sit back and watch my soulmate drift away, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Dealing with grief during those six months was hard, but I made it through. The following are tips for how to cope when a loved one has a terminal illness.
1.) Acknowledge Your Grief
Plain and simple, you’re losing someone and it hurts. Acknowledge the situation and accept it. By doing so, it can help you understand your situation and the emotions you’re feeling. Creative outlets like painting or photography are two positive ways to work through these feelings and express your feelings.
2.) Reflect on your remaining time
The inevitable is coming, so make the remaining time count. Think about the different ways you and your loved one can spend time together. While their illness may limit what you can do, doing little things together will mean so much more.
Communication is so crucial at this time. You are not the only one grieving. Consider how other members of your family are feeling and talk with them about it. More importantly, talk with your loved one who is ill. They may be scared or overwhelmed, so it’s important to know how they feel, so you make the remaining days better. If they’re up for it, consider talking about end of life wishes. Asking how they want to be remembered and celebrated can ensure you give them a meaningful goodbye.
4.) Use Your Support System
Everyone grieves differently, but it helps to know that people are there for you. Make sure you work with the people that want to help you. While some people may be averse to it, meeting with a counselor can be very beneficial. A counselor can help you work through your emotions and offer advice for dealing with grief.
5.) Don’t Assume Anything
Grief affects everyone differently. Don’t assume that because you knew your loss was coming that the pain will subside any faster. Don’t assume that because the doctor says they have so many days left that that number is set in stone. Don’t assume that people don’t care because they don’t seem upset. Make the time you have together count and know that there are people surrounding you who care.
If you have any questions about dealing with grief, please do not hesitate to contact us. A member of our staff would be happy to assist you and offer additional resources and support that are available.