There’s never an easy way to handle receiving a terminal illness diagnosis. Every person responds to the news differently. Some people are immediately thrown into shock. Others may go numb and refuse to believe what they are hearing, while other people will become angry and frightened. These are all very normal reactions. One of the first questions that may come to mind after receiving a terminal illness diagnosis is, “Why me?” As devastating as this news can be, this is when you need to give yourself time to take in what is happening. While receiving this news is incredibly difficult, there are steps you can take to assist you in coping with a terminal illness diagnosis.
Steps for Coping With Terminal Illness Diagnosis
In the beginning, you may want to be alone with your diagnosis. Or, you might find yourself seeking immediate comfort by reaching out to family and friends. As difficult as it can be, try not to push your feelings and emotions aside. Now is the time to empower yourself with the life you have left. As overwhelming as your emotions may be after receiving this kind of news, here are several steps you can take to help you in coping with a terminal illness diagnosis:
Learn About Your Terminal Illness
We often fear most what we don’t understand. Just because you received a terminal diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t still take charge of your life. Talk with your doctor about what to expect from your terminal illness so that you can be prepared and stay informed. Learn what physical, mental, and emotional changes can happen as the illness progresses. Searching online will not only give you more insight into your illness, but it can also connect you with other people where you can learn how they coped with the same terminal illness diagnosis. The more you learn about your illness, the more you can improve your remaining life.
Set Your End of Life Priorities
Now is when you want to figure out what is most important for your final days and how you want to use the time you have left. After talking with your doctor you will know more about the extent of your illness. Is it important for you to seek out all treatments available to extend your life as much as possible? Or, would you rather spend your remaining time with family and friends and focus on enhancing your comfort? By setting your end of life priorities this can help you cope with the feeling of helplessness that comes with a terminal diagnosis.
Talk Openly With Loved Ones
While you may want to be alone in your diagnosis at first, receiving support from friends and family is guaranteed to help in the process. Your loved ones will also be concerned and trying to cope with your diagnosis. Having open communication can help everyone feel involved and prepared for what is to come. Future practical matters, like after death financial situations, will also need to be discussed and prepared. Being able to be open and honest with your loved ones can help alleviate the stress for the future.
Prepare Important Paperwork
An important step in coping with a terminal illness is to make sure that everything will be secure after your passing. If you haven’t already, this is the time to update your will and any insurance paperwork. You also want to go ahead with your end of life priorities and establish your desires for your health care during this time, whether it’s continued treatment, hospice support, or having a friend or family member become your caretaker. Take advantage of being able to get your paperwork in order so that you will have better peace of mind for what the future holds.
Establish Your Support System
While opening up to friends and family can give you support during this time, you also want to create a support system for the days or months ahead. A big fear after receiving a terminal illness diagnosis is the change to your daily life. As your illness progresses, you will want someone there to handle daily chores and give you the aid and comfort you need. This is the time to plan on whether you want to stay at home with a loved one as your caregiver or receive professional care from a hospice. A hospice caregiver can also provide 24-hour assistance as your illness progresses. Having a practical support system in place will help you feel more secure and taken care of.
At Hospice of South Louisiana, we know how overwhelming it can be to receive a terminal illness diagnosis. However, by taking the right steps you can find the best ways to reach acceptance and better peace of mind during this trying time. Contact us today so we can help you in your journey to coping with a terminal illness diagnosis. No matter how many days you have left, they should always be filled with peace and comfort.