What to Do When the Love of Your Life is Terminally Ill

terminally ill

As your partner approaches the end of life, your love matters more than ever. But to constantly witness their suffering and knowing you are powerless against the disease can be physically and emotionally exhausting.

Here are four ways to provide your partner comfort and support during these challenging circumstances.

Be present

Sometimes, presence can make all the difference. Staying with your loved one, whether you’re simply sitting in the same room or holding hands, can already show immense love and support. You can also read aloud, listen to music, or simply talk about anything under the sun.

Most people don’t leave their partner’s room for fear of missing the moment of death. On the other hand, keeping vigil can be draining for others since no one really knows how long it will last. Take breaks or set up shifts with other friends and family members. This way, you get to rest, while giving your partner opportunity to see and interact with other loved ones.

Provide palliative care

The goal of palliative care is to identify and treat physical, social, and spiritual problems. It offers pain and symptom control for a terminally ill patient, while giving the family emotional and spiritual support.

Palliative care services can be given at home, at a hospital, or in a long-term care facility. It is often provided by a team of doctors, pain management specialists, chaplains, and medical social workers to relieve a patient’s suffering and improve quality of life.

Engage in meaningful conversations

different kinds of medical professionals

It’s hard to figure out what to say to a person who’s dying. But remember, it’s better to address the elephant in the room than pretend nothing is happening. Expressing your emotions encourages your partner to open up and be honest about his or her feelings, too.

Teat your partner as normally as possible. Talking about casual things like work or pop culture assures your partner that they’re still very much a part of your life. Terminally ill patients usually enjoy recalling happy memories with loved ones. Consider engaging in conversations about gratitude, forgiveness, and positivity.

At the same time, be realistic and avoid projecting an overly optimistic attitude. These comments can discourage your partner from expressing genuine emotions like fear, anger, and sadness.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s fine to make mistakes or not know what to say. Apologize if you think you’ve said anything wrong. Let your partner know if you feel uncomfortable talking about certain topics. This can help them become more transparent, too.

Be aware of legal documents

Unfortunately, death also comes with a lot of legal paperwork. Don’t be shy to ask your partner about any end-of-life legal decisions such as a living will or a healthcare power of attorney that they have already made. Respecting and knowing these decisions can help you successfully achieve your partner’s last wishes.

It takes a lot of strength to look after a terminally ill partner. Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do is perfectly normal. While you can’t stop the reality of death, you can always help your partner make every second count.

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