Determining how to approach a loved one about their chronic illness or even death in general is challenging. It may also be awkward to find the right time and to identify who starts the conversation. Many avoid the discussion because of several myths formed by society.
If I talk about the illness I’ll only upset them more.
Most people are aware of their terminal illness and are willing to talk about it but might be worried about upsetting others.
Talking about illness or death will make it happen sooner.
While talking about the last chapter of life can be stressful for all involved, it can also be therapeutic and healing. Sharing thoughts about it does not cause the event to happen.
Use these helpful tips to get started:
- Listen for cues that the person is ready to talk about dying, such as comments about new symptoms, not being around for an upcoming event, being tired of being sick. When you think you hear such a cue, consider asking, “Do you want to talk more about that?” or, “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”
- Allow them to react and show emotions. Realize that they may react differently than you. If they’re angry at the disease, that’s okay. If they’re accepting of everything including death in the near future, that’s okay too. Try to support whatever reaction they are having and whatever emotions they are feeling. If they feel supported by you, they’ll be more willing to open up and share their feelings.
- If you don’t know what to say, find a way to be with them. Find activities to do together such as reading a book, playing a card game or listening to music. Let them know they don’t have to be alone.
Learn more, contact Tabitha Hospice at 402.486.8506 or a Bereavement Coordinator today.