Coping with a Loved One’s Terminal Diagnosis

When someone you love is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can feel like your whole world has been turned upside down. An array of emotions may be felt, such as sadness, confusion, anger and fear about the future. It’s important to find ways to cope with this devastating new reality so that you are able to get through it with your health and emotional well-being still intact.  

As difficult as it may be to turn to others for help, this is not something you should deal with on your own. Support groups offer a safe place where you can get information that is practical, constructive, and helpful. Additionally, connecting with others who have walked in your shoes can provide support, encouragement, and comfort. During times of pain and overwhelm it’s common to lean towards isolation. However, now more than ever, this is a time to reach out to trusted friends, family members or local support groups. It is through connection with others where we often find the strength to keep moving forward.

Another important reminder is to allow yourself to feel whatever emotions you’re feeling – sadness, anger, fear, etc. Becoming familiar with the stages of grief may provide some comfort when you’re experiencing a wide array of emotions seemingly all at once or in an unpredictable manner. Some ideas for processing your emotions are journaling, meditating or venting to a confidant. By taking time to nurture your emotional well-being, you will be better equipped to comfort and support your loved one.

You may find yourself consumed with worry and concern for your loved one during this time, that is to be expected. However, we are better equipped to care for others when we have first tended to our own needs. It is essential that you prioritize self-care. Creating a schedule is one of the best things you can do to hold yourself accountable to a self-care practice. You may want to consider allotting time to nurture your physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellness by scheduling exercise, meditation, meal prepping, and gathering with friends into your weekly calendar.

Facing a terminal illness is difficult for everyone involved. It is a time of adjustment and coping. By taking care of your wellbeing, you will be in a much better position to support your loved one when they need it most. Although this will undoubtedly be one of the most painful experiences you’ll ever endure, there are moments of peace and joy awaiting you on the other side.