5 Things To Know To Cope With a Loved One’s Terminal Illness

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While dying may be a part of life, the way toward acceptance can be obscured by the pain and grief you’re feeling. 

To really cope with the stages of terminal illness, it may help to abstract certain emotions and symptoms while mentally preparing for others. 

Whether you’re dealing with terminal illness of a parent or a close friend, here are 5 things to know that’ll help you better cope.

1. No Right Way

At the end of the day, there is no best way out of the situation. You may have to try several ways to manage the pain before finding one that works for you, and at times, it may only seem as though even the best coping mechanisms are only taking the edge off your feelings. 

However, if you really want to help yourself and your family, start with getting informed on what’s ahead, which will help you prepare mentally.

  1. The 5 Stages of Terminal Illness

There are 5 stages to a terminal illness. They are determined by the family dynamics around the terminally ill person. These stages are:

  1. Crisis: During this stage, the family is likely to feel anxiety and disruption to their daily routine.
  2. Unity: The focus shifts towards the loved one and their needs and brings the family together.
  3. Upheaval: At some point, the togetherness will start to unravel, causing tension and even resentment.
  4. Resolution: This stage refers to the opportunity to resolve any issues with the loved one before they pass away.
  5. Renewal: After a loved one’s death, families can begin to move past the grief of death toward the celebration of life.

3. Preparing for the Stress

Your loved one may feel sad or angry. They may be in strong denial, even as they become more and more fatigued from everyday tasks. 

If you want to know how to deal with a dying parent, you have to process their progression as much as your own.

Consider how much time you’re spending with your loved one in relation to the rest of your family. The primary caregiver may want to help, but they also may feel underappreciated during the last few months. 

Now is the time to communicate your feelings and really focus on the reality of the situation.

4. Your Support System is Important

You likely already know how important it is to nurture and maintain a support system, but don’t be afraid to reevaluate this system as you go. 

If you’re unable to get the counseling you need from your family, you may need to turn to a friend. Never feel ashamed to go outside of your network to a professional grief counselor if you’re having difficulty saying goodbye.

  1. What To Say To Children

If there are children involved, understand where they’re coming from first. They may only register that you’re being pulled away from them in order to take care of a loved one. 

Talk to them and don’t hold back the truth, but don’t try to force emotions they may not be feeling. Children may only need your help later on.


As treatments become more advanced, it’s becoming the norm for families to cope with terminal illness rather than the sudden loss of life. Every stage represents the chance to be there for one another — even when things are at their darkest.

Coping with a terminal illness can be very daunting on family and friends, contact us today to speak with one of our representatives about our end-of-life care services.

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