Diagnosis of Terminal Illness can be a frightening experience and brings with it an immediate change of your life plans and priorities.
Though there is no prescribed way to feel when given the news of this life-limiting condition, it is normal you will feel all or some of the following: shock, anger, fear, denial, stress and depression, acceptance, frustration, or relief.
Also, you may feel alone and isolated despite having friends and family around you. No matter what you might feel, remember life goes on, and you need to live the remaining part of it healthily and better.
This post outlines steps you should take to help you live healthily after a terminal illness diagnosis. These steps are also helpful in preparing your friends and family about losing you in the near future.
Let’s read along.
1. Get support through knowledge.
Naturally, people tend to fear most what they don’t know better. Therefore, learn everything about your condition. Ask the experts about the emotional, mental and physical changes you should expect as the Illness advances.
Research online or from the local bookstores and libraries for specific information about your Illness. Look for records from people who have had the same condition and how they managed to live through it.
Equipping yourself with such information will enable you to control every stage of the Illness with the appropriate procedure. And help you avoid exposure to other infections which might complicate your health further. It will also drive the fear of the unexpected situation.
2. Forgive yourself in advance.
There is no right or wrong way to react when you hear the news of having an internal illness. You will feel a different range of emotions ranging from anger and bitterness to fear and depression for the next weeks and months ahead.
While these experiences are normal, the method you will choose to manage them on any particular day depends on you. Some days will be different from others; therefore, you need to excuse yourself whenever you react rationally to the feelings.
3. Define your priorities.
According to the extent and nature of your disease, and after a conclusive consultation, doctors, friends, and families decide whether you want to pursue the medication options to prolong your life.
Or, you would rather spend the remaining time improving the quality of your life and enjoying the company of your friends and loved ones? It is your life, and only you can decide what matters to you the most during this period.
Having a final decision on how you want to use your remaining time will help reduce the feelings of anger, fear, and helplessness.
4. Talk openly about your Illness.
With every care and attention directed to you and your condition, it can be easy to forget about how your loved ones will cope with the thought of losing one of theirs.
People around you will also feel awkward and uncertain about saying words that might make you feel bad or remind you of the Illness. Additionally, the fears around future financial support and practical matters like child care might trigger feelings of guilt of being “selfish” during a period like this.
To prevent these feelings from agonizing people around you, create time with them and discuss openly and honestly how you feel, and let them express their feelings and thoughts too. Show them how that their support is important to you and assure them of your support as well.
5. Create a practical support system.
Depending on the extent, nature, and emotional, physical, and mental variations you anticipate as your illness progress, decide if and how long you want to continue doing the chores you used to do.
If you were the one tasked with laundry, picking groceries, preparing meals, paying bills, etc., choose someone to assume those duties when you are no longer able to attend to them. Or wish to stop doing them and focus on enhancing the quality of your remaining time.
6. Plan for a “good death.”
Generally, all the tasks outlined in this article help you prepare for a “good death”-the kind in which you decide the terms of your death and as comfortable as you want. Also, you choose where you wish to die.
Though the treatment methods, nature, and extent of the Illness may hinder your decision, there are many alternatives you can choose from. While most people prefer dying at home, some might choose nursing homes, hospitals, or hospice facilities where they can get the best treatment.
After coming to a conclusive decision on where you want to rest peacefully, share it with your doctors and family to see if it is a viable option.
Knowing that you have a terminal illness inevitably presents uncertainty in your life. You will have many questions to which there are no definite answers. You will have feelings of fear, anger, depressions, and helplessness.
However, these are normal feelings and how you react to them daily is unique to you. After the diagnosis, you need to accept the reality and seek support from your doctors and loved ones to live healthily. Read and gather knowledge about your condition, forgive yourself in advance, and define your priorities.
Moreover, talk openly about the Illness and save people around you from being naïve about expressing their thoughts and feelings. Plan a “good death” and discuss with your loved ones if it is a viable idea.