How To Support A Terminally Ill Loved One


Finding out that a loved one is terminally ill presents a serious emotional challenge, not just for the afflicted person, but for their friends and family as well. While you need not repress all of your emotions, you should bring the needs of the individual to the forefront during this trying time.

Let Them Know You’re Open

This step sounds much simpler than it actually is. When you are faced with terminally ill loved ones, don’t assume that they would rather avoid discussing the issue. They might want to talk about their fears, hopes and dreams—or they may indeed wish to keep these issues at bay for the time being. Let them know that whatever they prefer to talk about, you are open and receptive.

Don’t Make Them Live a Cliché

Clichés are clichés because they often represent a truth, but often isn’t an absolute word. Your loved ones might not want to fulfill all of their missed changes, and they may not want to see all of their family members at one large gathering. Don’t make them fit into any cliché, whether it is a positive or negative one. Instead, let the activities they pursue in their remaining days be self-directed.

Let Them Live as They Want

When people near the end of their lives, they may wish to enjoy a glass of wine each day, or they might want to take a plane ride to a foreign country they never visited. Remember, while you want to ensure optimal health for your loved ones, they also have been told that no medical treatment will save them. At this point, you need to ask yourself how much they are really risking by taking a perceived risk. Providing the best end-of-life care and support possible does not necessarily mean acting as a supervisor–let your loved one do what, within reason, makes them happy.

Offer Appropriate Religious and Spiritual Support

As your loved ones are approaching their final days, you might find that they are more inclined toward religion and spirituality than they once were, or they may simply wish to continue practicing as usual. Remember, this time is not the one to push new beliefs on them or to tell them that their ideas about death and dying are false. Act as a gentle guide. Even if you do not wish to participate in the practices yourself, a care specialist from Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care says you can still act as a system of support for your loved ones who do.

Supporting a terminally ill loved one is a difficult task, and many people do not know how to navigate these waters. Speak to health care professionals about support systems in place that help to guide the entire family.

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