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How to Cope When Caring for a Terminally Ill Parent

Something that we know that we’re going to have to eventually deal with is the death of a loved one. Still, when the time comes to take care of someone you deeply love who is terminally ill, it can be extremely challenging to find the balance between providing them with everything that they need and also maintaining some level of emotional balance for yourself. Especially when the person happens to be a parent.

If this is something that you are currently facing, although there aren’t nearly enough words to provide you with all of the comfort that you deserve, we did want to give you a few tips on how you can cope while caring for a terminally ill parent.

Be honest with yourself about what is going on. Although there’s nothing wrong with wishing that things were different, not dealing with the reality of the situation is only going to make things harder on you. And so, in order to do what’s best for your parent, you first have to be honest with yourself about the seriousness of their diagnosis and what you need to do to make the most of the time that you have left with them.

Take each moment as it comes. When caring for a terminally ill parent, there are going to be good days and bad days—both for you as well as for them. Try and take the pressure off of both of you by not feeling like either one of you have to be happy and upbeat all of the time. When they find themselves crying, hold their hand or give them a hug. When you’re upset, go for a walk to do some reflecting. There’s no way to “grieve right” in this kind of situation.

Be patient. When someone knows that their days are numbered, they oftentimes find themselves having a lot to say. They might even repeat themselves quite a bit. You might be tempted to get irritated or to even snap on your parent but try and be patient. They are probably very nervous about what lies ahead and so they’re trying to articulate just as much as possible in a short amount of time.

Get counsel. Whether your parent is staying with you at home or you’ve decided to place them in something like a Catholic hospice , don’t hesitate to look for a therapist or counselor who specializes in grief therapy. The more you are able to get out your feelings, the better prepared you can be for whatever comes.

Make each day extremely special. In an unexpected way, there is a blessing that comes with knowing that someone is terminally ill. We say this because it’s very easy to take people for granted when they are well but when someone is sick, it helps you to see each moment with them as something that is extraordinary. So, be focused on making each day with your parent special. It will be memories that you will cling to your for years to come.