10 Tips for a Terminally Ill Person’s Loved Ones

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According to the American Cancer Society, one in four people will die from cancer. As a relative or friend of someone who is dying, you may find yourself wanting to do everything you can to help them through this difficult time. This article will give you some guidance on how best to support your loved one as they face their terminal illness. Here are 10 tips for a terminally ill person’s loved ones.

1. Actively listen to your loved one

  • Listening is the most important thing you can do for your loved one. If they are telling you something, listen! 
  • Don’t try to change the subject or fix it, just let them talk about what’s on their mind. You will learn a lot by listening, and hopefully make them feel better by doing so.

2. Encourage your loved one to share their feelings

  • How do you show your support for someone who is going through this?
  • There are so many ways to help, but one of the most important things you can do is to be there for them.
  • It’s okay to cry with them if that feels right—but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by sadness or anger. 
  • And remember: Patients often feel alone during this process. Make sure they’re not left alone with their thoughts and feelings for too long. At the same time, allow them to go through the motions when needed.

3. Validate your loved one's feelings

  • Don’t try to change them or make them feel better. Instead, listen and ask questions that help you understand the situation better. 
  • For example: “What do you think would make this more bearable?”. Or “What are some of the things that have been helpful for you during this time?”

4. Quality Time

  • Spend as much time with your loved one as possible. 
  • This can be done by visiting them in the hospital or at home. 
  • If possible, encourage them to spend time with their friends or community if they feel so inclined.

5. Ask your loved one how you can help

  • Ask them what they need and don’t need. 
  • For example, if you’re planning on helping with grocery shopping, ask them if they want to go out for lunch or order in some food while they’re resting. If they’ve been asking for the same thing every day since diagnosis, perhaps it’s time to switch things up a bit!
  • Identify what’s important to both of you right now—and then figure out how best to make those things happen together (or separately).

6. Maintain a healthy lifestyle yourself

  • Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. If you are able to exercise, do so; if not, make sure that your body gets enough sleep.
  • Don’t overdo it with alcohol or medications (both of which can have negative effects on your health).

7. Don't make promises or offer false hope

  • Don’t promise them that everything will be ok, or offer false hope that everything will work out fine in the end. 
  • Allow them to mourn without feeling guilty for not being able to fix it.
  • Let them know how far along your journey has brought you thus far (i.e., if someone died last year and now they’re still alive).
  • Don’t promise them that everything will be ok, or offer false hope that everything will work out fine in the end. 
  • Allow them to mourn without feeling guilty for not being able to fix it.
  • Let them know how far along your journey has brought you thus far (i.e., if someone died last year and now they’re still alive).

8. Make a plan and seek guidance from an expert

  • Make a plan and seek guidance from an expert.
  • Get help from family and friends.
  • Get help from a professional, if needed or desired. Myend’s e-will is an amazing tool to help you navigate mortality.
  • Seek out support groups that are available close to where you live so that you can meet other people who have gone through similar experiences with loved ones who have terminal illnesses (or any other illness).

9. Choose a hospice care provider

  • If you are considering a hospice provider, it’s important to choose one that is familiar with your family and the type of care they will need. 
  • Hospice care providers are trained professionals who provide end-of-life care in their homes or offices. They can help patients and families make decisions about their loved ones’ futures, including how they want to spend their final days or weeks/months. 
  • Some hospices also have staff available 24 hours a day so that patients have access to medical advice at any time of day or night (if necessary).

10. Take care of practical matters ahead of time

  • Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork in order, such as funeral arrangements and medical directives.
  • Know what to do if your loved one dies, and make sure you know where they would want their ashes to be scattered or buried.
  • If a loved one is in a coma, ask family members if they would like hospice care or another type of long-term care facility for them. This can help ensure that all family members are aware of the situation and on board with end-of-life making decisions.

Final Thoughts

We hope that these tips will help you to cope with your loved one’s terminal illness. It’s one of the hardest things a person can go through, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember that you’re not alone in this journey and there are many people who care about you and your dying loved one. If you want assistance helping a loved one with their end-of-life journey, sign up for a free Myend account.

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Disclaimer

Myend is not a law firm, it does not engage in the practice of law, and it does not render any official legal advice. Therefore, you are hereby advised to seek your own legal counsel regarding any legal issues. Myend’s articles are meant to be taken as suggestions and therefore Myend carries no responsibility for the user’s actions.

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