We all know that death is inevitable, but realizing that a loved one is going to pass away soon can be an incredibly shocking and confusing time. Losing someone you love is one of the most difficult things that humans can experience. It is normal to feel emotional and stressed, and you might also feel angry, sad, worried or even relieved if your loved one has been suffering.
There is no right or wrong way to feel during this time. It is a deeply personal experience that affects everyone in different ways. However, there are some things that you can do during the process that may be helpful to you as well as your loved one. Here is a look at four tips for preparing for the death of someone you care about.
Make Sure You Know What To Expect
The changes that take place in your loved one’s physical health as their life comes to a close may be distressing. However, it is important that you are aware of what typically happens as their disease progresses. Not only can this help alleviate some feelings of shock as this decline sets in, but it may also enable you to recognize things that happen that are not normal so your loved one can receive proper medical attention.
Your hospice team can provide you with information about the signs that the dying process is progressing so you feel more prepared and better able to respond to your loved one’s physical and emotional responses during each stage. This allows you to feel more in control and may help you to better comfort your loved one during their final days.
Ask Your Loved One About Their Wishes
If your loved one is in hospice, this is particularly important as it means they have been given a diagnosis of six months or less to live. They may be coherent one day, but they could decline to the point of becoming unable to have these discussions surprisingly quickly.
Be sure to ask your loved one about their wishes regarding advanced care, such as which types of treatments they would be willing to receive and which they would not want if they were unable to communicate their preferences. Ask your loved one about organ donation and their feelings about being placed on life support.
You should also discuss their desires regarding funeral plans. Although you may hesitate to talk about their death in this way, doing so may give your loved one a sense of peace from the knowledge that you are so interested in following their wishes. Even if you think you know your loved one very well, you may be surprised by the type of funeral or lack thereof that they wish to have as well as other wishes related to their death.
In addition to funeral plans, your loved one may have specific requests for how they spend their last days, whether they want particular family members or friends in the room with them during their last moments or would like to hear a specific type of quiet music in their final days.
Spend Quality Time Together
When you are caring for a loved one with a terminal illness, you may find yourself under a lot of stress as you juggle caregiving with your family and work responsibilities. You may be surviving on little sleep as you run from place to place, and it is easy to forget that you and your loved one have such little time left together to bond.
Now is the time to say everything that you need to say to your loved one, tell stories, share memories and simply spend time being together. You may also find it therapeutic to start keeping a journal about your loved one’s life and any of the special things that they say.
Don’t Forget To Take Care Of Yourself
You may even feel guilty taking a break from caregiving to do something you enjoy, but the truth is that spending time with family and friends and doing the activities that bring you joy are important for your physical and emotional health during this time.
If your loved one is in hospice, they may be able to arrange a respite stay or simply send visitors to sit with your loved one while you take some time to yourself. Hospice care recognizes the importance of caring not just for patients but also their family members as they navigate this tumultuous phase.
Reach Out To Harbor Light Hospice
As you grieve, hospice can provide you with resources to help you through the process and provide you with the support you need. Reach out to Harbor Light Hospice to find out how they can help you and your loved one through this difficult time.