Finding out your parent has a terminal illness can be an emotionally overwhelming experience. While the impending loss is exceedingly difficult to accept, it’s important to avoid letting emotions get the better of you so you can make good decisions. Keeping control of your emotions will also enable you to give your parents the best care and compassion when they need it most.
There are many aspects to taking care of a parent with a terminal illness. These range from helping children to deal with the issues involved in managing the stress of giving care to a parent. What follows are six ways to cope if one of your parents has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, from diagnosis to Hospice Care.
A terminal diagnosis will probably cause a host of emotions. These range from anger, depression, and sorrow. Most experts agree that the first response after anticipating grief is seeking help, particularly from someone who has experienced the same situation. Talk with a family member or friend, and don’t be afraid to get involved with a support group for help.
Helping Kids to Cope
Don’t forget that you aren’t the only one who is hurting with the impending death of a parent. Your children, regardless of their age, are dealing with the death of a grandparent. Young children need to understand that death is permanent, and once they pass away, the grandparents won’t be coming back. According to Cancer.net, one good way to help children deal with this is to create a memory book while the grandparent is still alive.
Make Time to Say Good-bye
Unlike a sudden, unexpected death, a terminal illness gives those who are about to be left behind a chance to say goodbye. This is the opportunity to let go of anger and make amends. For some families saying “I love you” doesn’t happen often, so this is the chance to tell a parent that you care.
Learn About the Illness
Terminal illnesses can cause mental and physical symptoms that are difficult to understand. It’s always difficult to see someone suffer, especially someone you care about, but learning about the illness and what your parents are going through can help you know what to expect. If you don’t understand something or want more information, ask your parent’s medical provider.
Research Hospice Care
A terminally ill person who enters hospice care gives them the chance to receive palliative care from a qualified healthcare professional either at home or in a home-like environment. If this type of care is not affordable, you might qualify for assistance from Medicare or other healthcare entities.
Providing Emotional Support
As concerned as you might be about handling your emotions when dealing with impending death, your parents are probably struggling also and in need of emotional support. Even if it seems that your parents have accepted their illness, the thought of an end can be scary. Be sure to listen carefully to your parent’s final wishes and pay attention to any concerns they have. Remember that you are your parent’s advocate in helping them have a degree of peace about their situation.
Facing the real prospect of death is difficult for nearly anyone but, by using the guidelines listed above, not only will you be able to deal with grief better, but you will be able to help your loved ones too.