Terminal Illness – What does this mean?

Simply put, a terminal illness is a condition that deteriorates the human body resulting in loss of life. Medically speaking ‘terminal illnesses or infections’ are considered incurable when there are no conservative therapies available which will treat or eliminate it from the body. This medical phrase is usually used when there is a life expectancy of six months or less and complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) options are not included when referring to “treatments.”

It is possible to be diagnosed with a “terminal illness” and outlive the six-month life expectancy. Examples of illnesses and infections which could have relatively long life-spans are: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and neurological illness such as Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

What happens when you hear the news?

Hearing that your illness cannot be cured can be a frightening experience. Many people will be unable to take everything in. There is no right or wrong way to feel when you hear bad news about your condition. You might feel numb at first, and unable to take in the news, or strangely calm and matter of fact. As time passes, you may experience a range of emotions. It’s normal to feel some or all of the following emotions. You might not experience all of these feelings, and if you do they will not necessarily come in any particular order:

  • shock
  • fear
  • anger
  • resentment
  • denial
  • helplessness
  • sadness
  • frustration
  • relief
  • acceptance

If you are alone when you hear the news, ask if you can bring a relative or friend in to hear everything the doctor has to say. This may involve asking for a follow-up appointment so that someone can be with you. Also ask the doctor what support is available to you. They will be able to refer you to appropriate services and professionals who specialise in caring for people with these conditions.

THE NOT KNOWING…….Living with uncertainty

Knowing that you have a life-limiting condition inevitably leaves you living with uncertainty. You will probably have questions to which there are no definite answers, such as how and when your body is going to change, the effect this will have on your independence and your relationships, what will happen at work, and exactly how much time you have left. Not knowing exactly what is going to happen to you can feel overwhelming and upsetting. It is normal to feel like this, and it is OK to talk to people about how you are feeling. It might also be helpful to talk about this with others who are in a similar situation, and to hear how they cope with these feelings. These feelings of uncertainty are normal and can be addressed with the help of a trained professional. At Alegna Solutions our psychologist will be able to help you view your situation from a different perspective and guide you through this period of uncertainty. Call us know and find relief from the ups and downs of not knowing.

What if……..Someone You Love has a “Terminal Illness”

Carer for terminal illnessCaring for someone with a terminal illness is also an emotional and stressful experience, often involving same range of feelings such as hope, fear, stress, anger, regret and grief. Family members are often focused on looking after the physical and emotional needs of their loved one, but also need to also ensure that they are looking after their own emotional well being too.

Grief and bereavement counselling can be helpful in assisting family and friends to cope with the illness of their loved one. Counselling at Alegna Solutions can help individuals understand the illness and prepare for their loss. During these times, our psychologists can help you focus on providing emotional support, as well as helping the family to plan for and organize their practical needs.

Not Sure What to Do?

It’s one of the most distressing situations human beings ever have to face when you or a loved one have to deal with the news that dying is eminent due to a medical condition, and your life may be cut short. Not everybody wants to talk about what they are going through, and that’s normal. It’s different for everyone.

A terminal (life-limiting) diagnosis does bring up worries and fears. It does help to talk about these worries and issues so that they do not become overwhelming or start to feel impossible to deal with.

If you or you loved one is finding it hard to talk about it, then this is a indication that it’s becoming challenging and that withdrawal and isolation from others may be the first sign of your own grief, that is being in denial and/or shock.

Alegna Solutions psychologists can help you understand what’s going on with your emotions and your ability to function. They can help you, your carer or your loved one through this uncertain time of life. Call us now and make a confidential appointment. Whatever you feel, you do not have to go through it alone.