How to Plan for Terminal Illness 
When Faced with Letting Go

By: Lucille Rosetti
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things to do in life. In death, it only gets harder. When you or a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can be tough to know what to do next. However, it’s very important to dedicate some time for planning. Here are some arrangements you need to think about when preparing for life’s end. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk and Think About Death  

It can be difficult to accept the eventuality of death, for both the terminally ill and their loved ones. Because facing the loss of life is so hard, many people tend to put off some of the essential steps that can make this process less tense for everyone. One of the things that can help is to have the conversation with your loved one about their ideal end-of-life care, burial or cremation preferences, desires for memorial services, and any living will choices. With so many emotional topics to cover, you may need to spread this talk out over a few sessions, or your loved one may prefer to just get it all out of the way in one conversation. However you choose to discuss these important details, do try to keep the dialogue objective and be patient as your loved one contemplates their decisions.

In terms of care, you should also open up the discussion around hospice care. Often misunderstood by loved ones and patients, this kind of palliative care can be provided in the comfort of home and is meant to complement any other medical care being administered. Benefits can be maximized by seeking a hospice referral sooner rather than later so that pain management can begin as soon as possible. 

Find Ways to Connect with Your Loved One 

Because death makes so many people feel uncomfortable, it’s common to feel awkward having a conversation with a terminally ill loved one. You may be concerned about saying the wrong thing and think the safe choice is to say nothing at all. In reality, however, just being there and being able to talk to them will mean so much, regardless of what you say. 

Another common misconception is that terminally ill individuals don’t have any interest in new experiences or activities. However, The Conversation notes that bucket list experiences are becoming more popular with people facing death, and these fun lists can be a positive coping mechanism for them and their loved ones. If your loved one feels up to it, a new adventure could provide some hope and comfort, so ask if there is anything they’ve ever dreamed of doing. It could be something as epic as traveling to an iconic American location or as simple as watching the sunrise.

Don’t Put Off Making Final Financial Arrangements 

Making decisions about death is hard, but making decisions about money when a loved one is confronting terminal illness can be even harder. Financial moves that were once motivated by practicality can easily become driven by emotions, and that can result in disaster for the estates and family members left behind. So, if a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it may be in the best interest of all affected to consult an experienced estate planner. Proper estate planning becomes even more important during this final stage of life, but it can also help loved ones make better decisions when children, legal concerns, or complex assets are involved. Most attorneys who work with terminally ill clients specialize in this area of law and will be best equipped to help your loved one map out the future of their finances while they are still alive, as well as what will happen to their assets when they pass away.

We never want to say goodbye to the people we love. But when terminal illness makes this inevitable, the best we can do is provide comfort, offer support, and plan as much we can.

 

To learn more about our contributing author, Lucille Rosetti, please visit her website or feel free to email her for guidance.

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