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Coping with Your Dying Loved One

Are you in emotional turmoil or feel absolutely helpless on account of your dying loved one? Understanding death is the first step towards coping with such conflicting feelings.

James Brown has met his fate. On Christmas Day, December 25th 2006 the Godfather of Soul died. Gerald Ford has met his fate. On December 26th 2006 former president of the United States died. Saddam Hussein has met his fate. On December 30th 2006 former dictator of Iraq died. Roy Smith has met his fate. On November 15th 2003 my father died. Today, my mother, Belinda Smith is approaching her fate.

Do you know someone who has died? Was that person close to you? What was your reaction to the news of that person’s death? Hopefully, you displayed compassion and acted appropriately. Hopefully you gave respect and showed remorse by at least saying, “I am sorry to hear such bad news.” In contrast, have you ever had someone close to you died? What was your reaction? I am certain it was quite different from the death of someone not close to you. Would you say the feelings were more intense? Were you in emotional turmoil or did you feel absolutely helpless?

Death might not affect you until it hits home. The effect may be merciless tears to requiring hospitalization to a dysfunctional void in your life. Choosing to cope with death can range from mild, unimportant and insignificant to very difficult and problematic. Choosing to cope with death in an unimportant, or insignificant mild manner may be considered cold-hearted. Choosing to cope with death as very difficult and problematic may be considered pathetic and weak In either case, the death of a loved one does affect you. Understanding death is the first step towards coping with a dying loved one.

To begin understanding death The Signet/Mosby Medical Encyclopedia defines death as the absence of life. Apparent death is the end of life as indicated by the absence of heart beat or breathing. Legal death is the total absence of activity in the brain, heart, and lungs, as observed by a physician. It further explains the patient, after having been diagnosed with a terminal illness, goes through five emotional and behavioral stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Family members and those close to the dying are predisposed to experience these stages also. This article is presented as a book report on On Death and Dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. “A profound lesson for the living.”-Life Magazine.

Because your dying relative or close loved one must and will live for a long time following a terminally ill diagnosis, it is imperative he/she not be consumed by death. You should not allow him/her to be consumed with the possibility of his/her death. However, do not concern yourself too much because he/she will eventually begin to deny his/her coming death. Be aware that this first stage serves as a cushion for the approaching death. It is very effective during the difficult times when death cannot be faced or talked about.

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