Saying goodbye to a loved one and preparing for the end of their life when you can see it coming isn’t something we like to think about. However, there are thousands of people facing that very problem right now. Once you’ve gotten over the initial shock (and that may take some time) how do you make their goodbye as peaceful as it can be?
Make their care the very best
When you know that someone is heading towards the end of their life, normal healthcare services don’t cut it as much. Our current healthcare system can be a stressor as often as it can be a relief. Palliative care is a relatively recent idea and palliative health centers take the approach of focusing 100% of their energy on making their patients more comfortable and addressing some of the symptoms common during end-of-life. Otherwise, you may want to think about hiring a carer for your loved one.
Give them as little to do as possible
If you’re loved one is staying in their home, then there is a lot that you can do to help them cope with managing their household and caring for themselves. For instance, it’s worth thinking about hiring a cleaner or a gardener if you don’t have the time to spare yourself. You still have your responsibilities, after all. Just make sure you consult your loved one before you make any decisions. If they are active enough, they may feel like the idea of doing their own housework for as long as they can is their means of expressing their independence.
Help them prepare
Similarly, take care when approaching the subject of the admin that has to be done before we die. Once you’ve both come to terms (as much as you can) in the short-term, open by asking about any last wishes they have, including preferred funeral arrangements. If they’re receptive to your help, you can ask if they need any help setting their affairs in order. It might include helping them set up a will with an attorney, assigning power of attorney for healthcare, and other estate planning steps that can clear up a lot of confusion in the aftermath of a death.
Be a loved one, not a carer
There’s a reason that hiring a cleaner or carer if you can afford it is recommended over offering to do it yourself. You want to be there for them as a loved one. If all of your time with them is taken up by busying around them, they can start to feel like they are a burden on you or might even resent getting a little time away from you. No matter how you help them, ensure that you are spending time with them, too. It can help both of you deal with anticipatory grief.
Beyond the tips above, make sure you take care of yourself. It’s going to be an incredibly emotional time for everyone involved and you need to find your own release to help you cope. You’re not going to be much help if you’re not helping yourself, too.