Death is a sensitive subject for many. However, preparing for death during hospice care is important for the patient as well as their close family members and friends. The hospice care team — including the counselors and the hospice chaplain — can help patients prepare for the end of life, but family members should also prepare properly as well.
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Part of the job of hospice care teams is to deal with the emotional concerns of the patient and their family. Many patients are able to find emotional relief and overcome fears of death by having meaningful conversations with loved ones and being open to support from others.
One concern family members often have when talking with someone they love who is in hospice care is not knowing what to say. The truth is there is no “right” thing to say, and simply being there beside them can help you and your loved one deal with the situation.
It can also help to share memories with one another, telling stories of experiences you had together. This may include holidays spent together, fun road trips or watching a sports game. Regardless of what the memory may be, letting your loved one know how important your time with them is to you can help them feel better about death.
Say the Important Things
Death is powerful, and it can give an opportunity to let your loved one know how much you love them, that you forgive them or that you are sorry for something that may have happened in the past. If there is an unspoken concern, it is important to address the issue before it is too late. If all is well, simply letting your loved one know how much you love them is important as well.
Reach Out for Support
Preparing for death is scary for the patient as well as family members. Be sure to get the support you need as well through grief counseling, support groups and other support services. Hospice care typically offers emotional support for family members who are dealing with grief due to the death of a loved one, and taking care of these services is strongly encouraged. This allows you to be in good mental health while helping your loved one with their terminal illness.
Prepare Your Loved One
Preparing your loved one is an essential part of dealing with the death of a loved one. It is easy to focus on other family members and yourself, but taking care of your loved one in hospice care as well should be the primary focus and something the entire family can rally around.
Take Care of Them
Most who are in hospice care are not able to care for themselves the way they desire. Often, they are afraid of feeling like a burden and hesitant to ask for assistance. By helping them before they have to ask, you can help them feel more comfortable with the situation. This may include assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as getting out of bed in the morning, fixing them meals and helping them bathe and get dressed.
Know Their Wishes
Often, one of the hardest conversations someone in hospice care has relates to what they are leaving behind. Discuss with your loved one what they want to do with their will and whether or not they would like to appoint a power of attorney. Establishing an advanced directive in case they become incapable of making medical decisions for themself can help as well.
Talk to Other Family Members or Friends
Adults and children alike have a hard time handling death, but the process can be made easier by sticking together through the challenging time.
Offer and Receive Support
A death in the family affects the entire family. It is important to have a support system in place to help each family member get through the challenging time — including yourself. Hospice care offers counseling for all family members. Ensuring you, your friends and family take advantage of it is helpful.
How to Talk with Children About Grief
Children are particularly vulnerable to grief from the death of a loved one, as it is a new experience for them. Take some time to learn about how to talk to children about grief and check on children within the family to ensure they know what is going on and deal with it in an emotionally healthy way.
Find Comfort in Hospice Care
Contact us at Harbor Light Hospice to find out more about how to prepare for a death in the family. In addition, if you or someone you love is dealing with a terminal illness, we are glad to provide you with information about how our hospice care team can help.