Dealing with terminal illness

By Glen D. Williams

Terminal illness is so frightening and painful that most who dare read this article are personally preparing for the death of a loved ones or themselves. Logically, one would think it’s just the common end of life you see in every living thing, but if you are facing death, you know it isn’t an issue for logic. In this article, we are going to confront death, cover family care, pain control, comfort care and try to prepare as much as possible for terminal illness and death.

Confronting Death and Dying: We live most of our lives in denial or avoidance of the subject of death. When forced to confront it with friends and distant loved ones, we find it shocking, unfair, painful, frightening. Our goal, here, isn’t to become more comfortable with death, but to prepare, so our loved ones will have a somewhat easier time in our absence.

Life insurance is one of the ways people prepare financially for death..another is estate planning. We are not going to cover these issues that have extensive coverage elsewhere. Instead, when we learn that we or a close loved one is dying, the first things we face are the emotions.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross does an outstanding job covering these emotions in her book “On Grief and Grieving.” The basic categories of emotion are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

whether you are facing your own death or the death of a love one, prepare to confront serious emotional upheaval. These emotions are often vented on those closest to us, making it even more difficult for family.

Caring For Family: Each person expresses the emotions of grief differently, so caring for family requires a great deal of patience and flexibility. Often with terminal illness, you are faced with deteriorating ability to care for yourself, requiring someone to provide assistance for activities of daily life, from dressing, to eating, to personal hygiene, etc.

Often, having a family member do these things is less expensive, financially, but limits the amount of time left to really be together, sharing and communicating what’s important. Time is the most valuable thing right now. Consider the amount of time these close family members have and determine whether that time would be better spent cleaning, shopping and cooking or talking and hugging..even watching a movie together. I have a friend who insists on personally providing routine care for a close loved one, but the stress of performing those duties has caused my friend to resent and treat harshly the very person he is caring for. Sometimes caring for a family member is easier and less painful if someone else is changing the bed pan.

Death does not have to be the end of life, but a transition to a new life, reunited with past loved ones forever. Right now, while you are dealing with terminal illness, is the best time to get acquainted or re-acquainted with God, through Jesus Christ. This life is yours for the asking.

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