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Live life while dying: Finding meaning in the present

Posted June 12, 2018 2:14 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:09 p.m. EDT

Personalism

This story was written for our sponsor, Transitions LifeCare.

Hearing the words, "You're dying" or "You're loved one doesn't have much time left" can put a patient or family member into a state of shock or disbelief.

No one wants to hear those words, but through time you realize that it is still possible to continue to live your life with meaning and comfort while dying.

"Each individual approaches end-of-life decisions differently," said Transitions LifeCare's CEO John Thoma. "Our goal through hospice care is to provide each patient the quality of life he or she wants when facing a serious illness or near life's end. We assist patients who continue to live life to the fullest by doing the things that mean the most to them."

To help terminally ill patients continue to live while dying, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a practicing clinical thanatologist and author, suggests ways to deal with the tension and continue to live.

Acknowledge You're Dying

Acknowledging you are dying is the first step to living the rest of your life. Let go of the future and live only in the present.

Question the Meaning of Life

You have the right to have questions, fears and hopes. The unknown invites you to question and search for the meaning of your life, in the past, present and future.

Accept Your Response to the Illness

Each person responds differently to terminal illness. Becoming aware of how you respond right now is to discover how you will live with your terminal illness. Don't let others prescribe how you feel.

Respect Your Own Need For Talk, For Silence

Open and honest communication is a good idea. When you make your thoughts and feelings known, you are more likely to receive the kind of care and companionship you feel will be most helpful to you.

Tell Your Family and Friends You're Dying

Your family and closest friends deserve to know. Be aware everyone will react differently, and many will not know how to respond, but that doesn't mean they don't love you.

Be an Active Participant in Your Medical Care

This is your body and your life. Don't fail to ask questions that are important to your emotional and physical well-being out of fear that you will be "taking up someone's time."

Be Tolerant of Your Physical and Emotional Limits

Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself.

Say Goodbye

Knowing you will die offers a special privilege: saying goodbye to those you love. Talk to everyone separately or as a group. You can even write letters, create videos or pass along keepsakes.

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Find Hope

Find hope in your tomorrows, your next visit from someone you love, your spirituality. Find meaning in life.

Embrace Your Spirituality

If faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs.

Reach Out for Support

Confronting a terminal illness cannot and should not be done alone. Give yourself permission to reach out for prayers, support and practical assistance.

Professional hospice and palliative care organizations are resources for an array of support services to help terminally ill patients and their families.

"It is our job to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs and wishes of our patients. We also want to help take the burden of care off the patient’s family so they can enjoy the final months together," Thoma said. "Our compassionate, expert team is there to help them every step of the way."

This story was written for our sponsor, Transitions LifeCare.