If you’re like me, you get frustrated when a problem presents itself that we can’t resolve. We want to fix it and do so immediately. Unfortunately, we can’t always do that. One area that presents itself to us in this category is the serious illness of a loved one. When the doctor says there is nothing else that can be done, what do we do next?
This is not an easy question to answer, and I suspect that many aspects of it are highly individual. We have just dealt with it in the loss of a very dear friend to brain cancer. In this experience, I learned a lot, and some of it may help you in your time of need.
Advanced Directives: Death can be sudden or it can come little by little. It’s a good idea to create an advanced directive when you are healthy. If you are trying to help a friend or loved one facing a serious illness, encourage them to prepare one as well. It could be needed when questions arise about life support and other issues.
Be There: You don’t necessarily have to say anything, just be there. Be there for the person who is ill and be there for his or her family. The sight and touch of someone is very important at times like these.
Counseling: Not everyone recognizes this need in themselves, but it is important that those who care receive appropriate counseling. You need to know what to expect, what your reactions are likely to be and if you are a parent, you may need to know how your children are likely to react. This knowledge can help bring you closer together at your time of need.
Funeral/Memorial Service: It seems sort of macabre, planning your own funeral or memorial service, but it can be a great help to those left behind. If you are the caregiver, you may have to ask what your loved one wants. That, too, won’t be easy for either one of you, but with all of the things that have to be done after a death in the family, this is one thing that you can remove from the list.
Power of Attorney: You may need to get both a durable power of attorney for grandparent visitation and a medical power of attorney. This allows you to make decisions if your loved one no longer can. You will need a notary to see the patient sign them, so doing so early is a good idea. Visit v. These documents do not take rights away from the patient, they can be canceled at any time.
Who do you Call: There are several resources to help you and your family through this time. Hospice is a great example. They can provide counseling, respite care and advise you on how to get MediCal or other social services. If the desire is to stay at home, they will help set it up and come in to help care for the patient. They can also advise you on what to do when your loved one passes.
Your church or other religious organization may also be helpful. In the incident we just went through, church members provided meals on a daily basis so the family didn’t have to cook, and others came to sit with our friend so necessary errands could be run.
When we can’t fix it, there are still things we can do. Knowing that can make it easier to handle the only part we can do; cope with it.