You’ve been through the treatments, the days, weeks, months, years of uncertainty, tests, consultations, hospitalizations, surgeries…and your doctor walks into the room and says “I’m sorry. There’s nothing more we can do for you.” The floor drops out of the room, you struggle to catch your breath, you hear your heart pounding in your ears and think the thought “*I* am going to die.”
It is easy to go through our life thinking we have unlimited tomorrows. Death is something for the future, something we compartmentalize, put away and try to ignore for ourselves. Every now and then someone we love dies and we are confronted with our own mortality, but we neatly tuck it away again. Then…THEN…this news comes and we don’t know what to do. After all, you’ve never died before. This is new, uncharted territory for you.
The end of your life doesn’t have to mean the end of your growing or loving or contributing in a meaningful way to your family, friends, community and world. Over the coming weeks I’ll explore the physical, emotional, spiritual and practical steps you can take to navigate through the territory of terminal illness. Then I’ll address the same categories for your caregivers.
But first…a plug. If you have been given a terminal diagnosis and have opted to cease seeking curative treatment, then consider calling your local hospice. They will come and give you a lot of information with no pressure to sign on. Many people think that hospice is only for the last days (it’s not), that it’s only for cancer patients (it’s not), that it’s only for old people (it’s not), that it is giving up (it’s not) and that they will come and take over (they won’t). Hospice, believe it or not, is about life. It’s about the quality of your remaining days and they provide an entire team to assist you and your family as you go through this experience.
For questions, concerns or to make an appointment, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC