Learning how to cope with a terminal diagnosis is a challenging endeavor. There are many different medical conditions that simply cannot be cured. If you are reading this, chances are you have recently been diagnosed with one of these conditions. Having a terminal illness presents a large number of challenges in a person’s life, as well as the people that surround that person. There is no one way to cope with a terminal diagnosis. Just as we experience life in our own unique way, we too must experience death in our own unique way. The reality is that we all know that “our time” is coming, but we often view it in the sense of the distant future. However, when a medical professional informs us that the condition that we have will ultimately lead to a death that we consider much more premature than we expected, everything changes. The following steps are intended to assist you in coping with a terminal diagnosis.
When your doctor expressed the fact that you have a terminal illness, chances are that you heard the words, but everything seemed so unreal. Even if you knew that you were sick and that there were complications associated with your health, the official prognosis likely put you in a state of shock. You likely heard and understood the words, but once they were said, you probably did not hear anything else that the doctor said. Initially, you will feel this way and it is normal. Accepting that your future is now limited is one of the most difficult facts that you will face when you are terminally diagnosed. It is important to understand that once you acknowledge the prognosis that you have received, you can start to enjoy the time that you currently have.
Being diagnosed with a terminal illness will open up a wide array of emotions. There is no “right” way or “wrong” way to respond to the news. Your experience will be unique to the experiences of others. You are an individual, and your method of handling the news will be an experience that can only be determined by you. The important thing is to understand that you should experience no shame in feeling the emotions that come up. You should not repress what you feel simply because of the fact that you are unsure of how others will view you. It is likely that they have some emotions that they want to contend with too, but are going on your direction because they do not want to put any pressure on you. Simply accept what you feel and allow others to respond in their own, unique way as well.
Once you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, there will come a point in which you must share the news with relatives, friends, and other individuals. This will be one of the most difficult situations that you will face. Everyone reacts differently to this type of news. You will likely discover that many emotions are experienced by many individuals when they are told that someone that they love and care for is dying. You may discover that they become angry, sad, helpful, or even withdrawn. It is important to allow them to cope in their own way. You may be surprised at their reaction to your news, but it is important to know that they are only reacting that way because they love you and care about you. Eventually, you will find that they offer the support that you need to successfully cope with a terminal diagnosis.