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End of Life

Coping With Terminal Illness Part 1: For The Patient

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/14/2010 10:13:44 AM

Being diagnosed with a terminal illness can trigger a wide range of emotions, including fear, anger, loss, sadness and depression. The dying process involves several stages, and your diagnosis will affect friends and family members in different ways.

Every person's journey with terminal illness is "very individual" so it's important to open up with others and experience life as fully as possible.

Here are some other important coping strategies when you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness:

Accept the fact that you are dying. While it may be human nature to deny the diagnosis, it will be much healthier for you and your loved ones if you acknowledge that you are dying. Hospicenet.org states that accepting the fact that you are dying is the first step towards truly living your life to the fullest in your final days.

Don't be afraid to get a second opinion. The experts at TerminalIllness.co.uk encourage people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness to seek a second opinion. Many illnesses and diseases share similar symptoms, so one specialist may not find enough evidence that can confirm a diagnosis. Make sure you have the right facts before you completely accept the diagnosis.

Consider therapy to deal with depression and anxiety. A terminal illness diagnosis such as cancer can trigger bouts of depression or chronic anxiety. PsychCentral.com suggests seeking out a qualified therapist who can help create a treatment plan that guards against depression and anxiety. You need your strength and a healthy state of mind during your final days, so don't be afraid to get help from a mental health professional.

Join a support group. Support groups can make it easier to cope with the difficult news about your health, and will also give you a chance to connect with people going through a similar process. The BBC's Relationships and Lifestyle Channel recommends using support groups as a way to manage your emotions and share your thoughts and feelings with others.

Set your priorities about financial obligations and assets. You may need to arrange for a will or pay some outstanding debts while you are still alive. Set up a meeting with a financial advisor to discuss your options based on how much time you have left. Reach out to family members and friends for contacts if you need to, or ask for someone to work through all of the details on your behalf.

Coping with the diagnosis of a terminal illness can be devastating, and it's normal to feel numb, overemotional or depressed. Take the time to accept your feelings and know that you must accept the facts about your diagnosis so that you can start living life to its fullest during your last few weeks, months or years.

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