Coping With End of Life Emotions
As you near the end of life, you will go through a roller coaster of emotions. The people who love, care for and support you will also go through a range of emotions. From fear and anger to regret and anxiety, knowing that death is not far away can take a big emotional toll during end of life care in Santa Clara and elsewhere. All of those emotions are normal. Knowing this, and talking to others about it, may help you cope. Let’s go over some of them here.
This is one of the strongest emotions when facing the end of life. Most people are afraid to die in general, but it may help to think about which part of death brings that fear. Is it a fear of where you may die? Is it a fear of dying alone? Is it a fear of suffering? Is it a fear that there’s nothing beyond death, perhaps that life has no meaning? Is it a fear of leaving people behind and what may happen to them when you are gone? When you try and determine what exactly you fear, you may be better able to manage it. In addition, your loved ones may be better able to support and care for you better, allowing them to perhaps ease your fears and find ways to cope with them. Take this opportunity to talk about your fears and maybe come up with new and productive ways to deal with them, advises the American Cancer Society.
This is an emotion that can be tough to identify. It’s completely normal to feel angry about your life ending, possibly earlier than you ever expected. Why me? It’s so unfair! And yes, it is unfair. You have a right to be upset. Sadly, though, we often direct our anger at those who are closest to us. That’s because we feel the safest with the people we love and are close to. Inside, we know they will accept our anger and forgive us for our harsh words. Instead, work to direct your anger at your disease and not your loved ones, channeling your anger into a source of energy to solve problems, become more assertive, or to do meaningful, positive things with your last days, weeks and months.
Guilt and Regret
You may also have feelings of regret or guilt about things you have done or not done in your past. Maybe you said something to someone you have regretted for years. Perhaps you have held grudges for many years against others who may have wronged you. Maybe you wish you had done more adventurous things in your life. Perhaps you haven’t met your own expectations of yourself, or believe you have failed others in some way. Endlessly worrying about all of this won’t make you feel any better.
For the things you can’t change, let them go and forgive yourself, as they are out of your control now. For the things you can change, take charge. Call up that old friend you haven’t spoken to in years and apologize sincerely. Ask for forgiveness, forgive the other person, and even yourself. If you have kids, spend time focusing on their future, rather than feeling guilty about the past. Strengthen relationships with all of your loved ones. Write letters, keep a journal, make phone calls, or make videos.
Intense grief is a natural emotion during the last stages of life. After all, you’re grieving the loss of the life you had planned. You may not feel well, you may have no strength to move around like you used to, and you may no longer have interest in doing the things you used to enjoy. You may experience distance from others who aren’t coping well with your end of life status, which compounds sadness and grief. On the flip side, those who love you are also feeling grief. They’re about to lose you and may not be able to find meaning in it all.
As a caregiver, it’s especially important to talk with someone about these feelings, in an attempt to lift that burden off your shoulders. Of the many emotions you’re going through right now, coming to terms with your impending loss is one of the most painful.
Anxiety and Depression
Some anxiety is expected when faced with the end of life. Severe cases may have to be treated with medicine or counseling. The main goal is to ensure your comfort and that you can better cope with the changes coming. Depression can also occur. But this is more than just a feeling of sadness. Depression is a clinical diagnosis characterized by feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. If you feel sad for weeks on end, finding no joy in activities you used to love, you need help. Keep in mind that these feelings are not normal, not even at the end of life. Clinical depression in someone who is dying can be treated, says WebMD, with a combination of anti-depressants and short-term psychotherapy.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Learn more about our comforting hospice services, as well as bereavement services for loved ones, when you contact us at 888-978-1306.