Self-Care Ideas When Someone You Love Is Dying

If you have a loved one or a friend that is dying, you are most likely dealing with a lot of feelings: sadness, shock, disbelief, anger, anxiety, and the list can go on. It is important to know how essential it is to experience these emotions and that you have the right to feel the way you do. As you juggle with your own emotions and the need to be there for your loved one, you will need to care for yourself and realize that you cannot do it all on your own. This article will discuss some self-care recommendations that will help you take care of yourself and stay emotionally stable as you care for your friend or loved one in the final days.

Share Your Feelings

If someone you care for deeply is dying, odds are that you will need support as you explore your own feelings about the illness and the changes you see in your friend and loved one. Find someone who will listen to you without judgment as you talk about your feelings. To be available for your loved one or friend, you need to be able to work through your own feelings. Do this with someone you trust or a therapist. Hospices also offer support groups for friends and family of the dying, both before and after the death itself. Take advantage of this compassionate resource.

Caring For Your Body

Caring for or visiting a terminally ill person can take a lot of your energy, both mentally and physically. To make the most out of the time left together, you need to ensure you are not draining all of your physical energy. Make sure you eat healthy meals, get enough rest, continue exercising and spend time doing things that make you happy. Take a break from the sick room.

If you are the primary caregiver, it may feel counter-intuitive or wrong to take time away for self-care or to enjoy simple activities, but you will need this to help you stay afloat. No one can sustain constant stress, anxiety, and sadness without starting to crack. So adding a few self-care habits will help you keep it together and have more energy you need to be present for the loved one. Self-care has become more valued in our society, so make sure to take the time to do it.

Realize Your Own Limits

It is important to know that not everyone can offer ongoing support to someone who is dying. If you feel you cannot cope with the situation, try to understand why and learn from it. Ask yourself, “Why am I so uncomfortable with this?” and “What can I do to become more open and compassionate in times of need?”

Do not avoid your friend or loved one altogether. Phone instead of visiting. Write a letter or email if you cannot bring yourself to the phone. Let them know that the situation is difficult for you while at the same time acknowledging that your friend and loved one’s fears and needs come first. On the other end of the helping spectrum, do not become obsessed with the illness or feel that you must be your loved one’s only means of support. Do not emotionally overburden yourself.

Get A Routine

After a terminal diagnosis, everything may feel out of control. Your routine is upside down. You are now dealing with events, people, and emotions you did not expect. Your life has lost its normal and has been thrown into disarray. By establishing a routine, you can begin to gain back some of the normal. When you feel comfortable in your routine, you can begin to process what is happening and learn how to deal with and manage your feelings.

Establishing a routine will also help your friend or loved one. They also need structure to rely on, as their life has been thrown into just as much (if not more), disarray than yours. If you are a close caregiver, establish a routine together if possible. If you are more on the sidelines, make sure to communicate your wish to visit on a regular basis and find a time that works best for both of you.

Embrace Your Own Spirituality

If faith is a part of your life, express it in a way that seems appropriate to you in this difficult time. Pray with your friend or loved one and with their family. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. Read spiritual verses or poems, and sing songs. Find the comfort that your faith can bring in a difficult situation.

If you are angry at God because of your loved one’s illness, that is also ok. Find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. It is normal to have questions and doubts when faced with death, but as you embrace your own spirituality, you will find the answers you need.

Seek Hope and Healing

As much as you do not want to face it, in time, your friend or loved one will die. To live wholly again, you must find a way to mourn. You cannot heal unless you openly express your grief. Denying your grief will only make it more confusing and overwhelming. As painful as it may be, you must embrace your grief in order to begin to heal.

Embracing your grief will not happen quickly. Grief is a process, not an event. Be patient with yourself. Never forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever. With these self-care tips in mind, start choosing the best ways to maintain your own self-health while you are supporting your friend or loved one. More likely, you will still be tired and emotionally worn, but these recommendations may help prevent you from reaching burnout as you journey alongside someone during their final days.

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