Individuals diagnosed with life-threatening illness, may face complex healthcare decisions, difficult family dynamics, challenging social and financial circumstances, physical pain, and emotional or spiritual anxiousness. They may feel as though they are living in continual crisis, overwhelmed, and unprepared for the journey. A terminal diagnosis will often lead family members to consider their own mortality as well. The resultant stress can make the journey a rough one for all concerned. Navigating the tumultuous waters of terminal illness requires nothing less than courage, strength, faith, and the support of those outside the immediate family unit.
Imagine this: You have been fighting to survive a serious illness for months or even years. Your physician says, “There is nothing more we can do. I suggest you call hospice.” Your family members receive the news with you. Committed to the battle, you may seek other opinions or treatments. A national statistic tells us the average hospice stay is only seven days. You don’t feel that close to death, but you are beginning to tire.
One day, there is a sinking feeling inside. Emotions of all kinds rise up in heart and mind: sadness, anger, fear, curiosity, wonder, relief, and perhaps even joy. The battle is coming to an end, and while you are not sure what lies beyond death’s door, you begin to realize the door is opening wider. Your body is shutting down. You have certain wishes that you want carried out. You want to feel complete in your worldly business and your relationships, but energy for this is waning. During this difficult time, loved ones have varied responses. You are overwhelmed and wonder why you had never given dying much thought before now.
Take a deep breath! There is help available through a myriad of hospice resources nationally and through prehospice programs like those offered by Further Shore.