Dealing with the terminal illness of a loved one

Watching a child, sibling or friend deal with a terminal illness is an incredibly devastating and difficult situation. However, it’s important that you remain their parent, sibling or friend and provide the support and comfort they need in the times ahead.

Here, we provide some ideas, strategies and tactics for helping you cope and provide that much-needed support. Or, download our free eBook How to cope with the terminal illness of a loved one.

When your child is terminally ill

  • Find out as much as possible about your child’s condition. What symptoms can you expect? What’s ahead?
  • Find out if doctors plan to treat the condition and if there’s other treatment options available.
  • Ask whether your child will receive palliative care. How does it work? Where will it be given?
  • Spend quality time with your child. Give them the space to ask you questions and create an open dialogue.
  • Consider whether your child should have input into decisions about their end-of-life care.
  • Talk to hospital staff about support that is available to help your child and his or her siblings cope.

When a sibling is terminally ill

  • Realise that it’s difficult to be the well sibling, watching your sibling go through this challenge with the added difficulty of seeing your parents struggle to cope.
  • You’ve been given a chance to say goodbye: have honest conversations with your siblings about how much you cherish them.
  • Create a forum so your sibling can be honest about their feelings.
  • Discuss your work, family life, social life and other everyday things to add a touch of normality to their lives.
  • Be there to provide comfort in the little ways, from massaging them if they are in pain to adding extra blankets to keep them warm.
  • Discuss what type of send-off they would like.
  • Consider how you may be able to provide comfort and support to your parents following your sibling’s death.

When a friend faces a terminal illness

  • Always remember what it means to be a true friend – ask your friend how they are feeling and what you can do to help.
  • Help them to smile and laugh, like you’ve always done.
  • From babysitting, to grocery shopping and driving them to appointments, find ways to offer practical support.
  • Be the friend they need you to be by simply offering a shoulder to lean on.
  • Organise social plans and activities where they can attend and enjoy themselves.
  • Speak to their family if you’re unsure how you can help.
  • Reiterate how much you cherish their friendship.

Look after yourself too

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take breaks and reach out to friends and family for support. Consider whether counselling might help. You may want to contact:

Protecting the financial future that you have worked hard to achieve for your family is essential. Taking out Real Family Life Cover is one simple step towards this. Talk to us today to find out more or download our free terminal illness eBook.