Managing Grief: Preparing for the Loss of a Terminally Ill Loved One

Death can be a traumatic experience for everyone. Normally, you will feel a roller coaster of emotions after knowing about your loved one’s terminal diagnosis. While your future with them is cut short, you can use this opportunity to make more memories and cope with grief as early as now. But what do you call the kind of grief you will feel even if your loved one is still alive?

Grief Associated with a Loved One’s Terminal Illness

There are various types of grief. Most people who lost a loved one usually experience normal grief. They eventually get through their loss and start functioning as they used to before the loss.

Delayed grief happens when one’s feelings and reactions to loss happens at a later time. Chronic grief can sometimes be associated with intrusive thoughts. If left untreated, this can lead to clinical depression, substance abuse, self-harm, or suicide.

Other types of grief can impact a person’s life. But when it comes to caregivers of terminal patients, what they usually experience is anticipatory grief. Grief can start the moment your loved in diagnosed with a terminal condition or after their health starts to deteriorate.

One can have different emotions when experiencing anticipatory grief. Some are as follows.

  • Acceptance
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Sorrow

The kind of emotions you might feel will depend on many things. This can include the relationship you share with your loved one, how close you are to each other, and how much time your doctor said your loved one has left. It is crucial that you learn to manage feelings of grief so you can make the most out of what little time they have left.

Managing Anticipatory Grief

It is never easy to grieve over someone that is still alive. But knowing your loved one will pass soon can break your heart even before it happens. As much as possible, find ways to prepare yourself for your loved one’s death to reduce feelings of regret.

Know What to Expect

This could be your first time dealing with a loved one who has a terminal illness. It only makes sense that you try to learn what to expect so that you can make the necessary preparations. Talk to their healthcare provider and learn about their condition.

Their doctor can provide you with everything you might need to know. Equipping yourself with the right knowledge will make it easier for you to provide comfort and relief to your loved one’s symptoms. They can offer great advice, including the end-of-life signs or symptoms you are likely to encounter as your terminally ill loved one gets closer to their end of life.

Stop Thinking You Can Do It on Your Own

Remember that even the strongest and more emotionally secure people in the world need the right kind of support. Don’t think you can handle everything when other people are willing to offer your support. Keep your loved ones close and rely on their support whenever you need it.

It also helps that hiring professional services will make your terminally ill loved one’s remaining days easier. This includes hiring a reliable agency offering care at home. This way, you can get expert support while you resume your role in your loved one’s life.

Talk About the Inevitable

More often than not, the patient is the one openly talking about death. Since you love your loved one so much, it is normal to be in denial and change the subject. The best thing you can do is to talk about their death and address their fears.

Remember that it is not just about your feelings. Your sick loved one may need someone they can talk to, give them reassurance, or even offer them empathy. Approach the subject gently, and if your loved one is willing to talk about it, be their listening ears.

If they feel uncomfortable about it, let it go. Don’t be too difficult and save the conversation for another day. When threading the conversation again, look for cues and share your own thoughts.

Remember that you are not the only one who I greatly affected by your loved one’s condition. While you have the right to feel what you feel, don’t forget about your own feelings. You may be looking for ways to manage anticipatory grief. But remember that they too are preparing for what is about to come. Seek help as needed and be willing to start conversations about death as soon as your loved one starts talking about the topic.

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