How to Deal with Terminal Illness

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Coping with a terminal illness is not easy to process. It is a unique journey for everyone involved. Understanding more about terminal illness and discovering resources can make the process easier. 

Definition of Terminal Illness

A terminal illness is a disease or condition for which there is no cure. This means that the disease most likely leads to someone’s death. People with terminal illnesses can live for a matter of days, weeks, months, or years, depending on the severity. No matter how long, though, it is difficult to cope with. 

Diseases and conditions have their own unique set of qualities. There is no one list of specific conditions labeled as terminal, so a condition that may be harmless for one person could be more severe for another. 

A congenital disorder is a condition that someone acquires at birth. These can turn into terminal illnesses. An example of a congenital disease is a heart defect that can transform into a life-threatening issue. 

An acquired illness is a condition or disease that a person developed during their life. An example of this is cancer. Whether it is terminal or not depends on the severity. 

Statistics to Consider

Coping with a terminal illness can have you feeling a range of emotions. No one can tell you how to handle your journey, but it may be helpful to understand some statistics. 

About 24% of patients with terminal cancer have been diagnosed with anxiety or a depressive order. This stat applies to cancer but can correlate to other conditions. Many people with a terminal illness experience consistent feelings of helplessness. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to reach out about what you are feeling. 
About 37.4% of patients who passed away in 2011 experienced palliative care. This number is expected to increase. It is essential to ask yourself if palliative care is the right choice for you.

How to Deal with a Diagnosis You Received?

You have a terminal illness. There is no way to describe your personal feelings upon diagnosis. Although, you may be feeling numb, overwhelmed, sadness, anger, or a unique combination of all emotions. It is difficult to accept, but you should come to terms with your illness. 

One of the best ways to feel empowered after realizing a terminal illness is to learn more about it. Ask your doctors or conduct your own research to understand the changes that you may experience. 

Coping with a terminal illness is difficult, and you can expect rougher days in the future. Therefore, forgive yourself in advance. Understand that it is okay to have bad days, but also remember that there are going to be good ones, as well. 

Dealing with a diagnosis can improve by setting your priorities and planning. Identify how and where you want to pass. Gather and coordinate all critical paperwork, like a will. Above all, find what you value most in life and go after it. Set your priorities so that you feel completer and more fulfilled. 

How to Deal with a Diagnosis a Loved One Received?

Finding out that a loved one has a terminal illness is not easy. Once again, there is no way to explain the emotions you feel. It is different for everyone. However, some things can help with processing the diagnosis and caring for your loved one. 

Be open to helping your loved one cope with the diagnosis. Tell them that you are there to listen and always volunteer your presence. Simply doing nothing but being by their side is comforting. 

Ask your family member what they want when they pass. Some want to be alone, while others want to be around family. If you want to keep a vigil, be sure to take of yourself and take breaks if needed. 

Continue to Take Care of Yourself or Loved One During a Pandemic

Amidst a global pandemic, taking care of yourself or a loved one can be difficult. However, always keep your priorities in mind. 

Follow trustworthy news sources and truthful updates. Reading the guidelines and updates from the Center for Disease Control is one of the best outlets. Additionally, follow any social distancing and stay-at-home orders. 

Everything that is happening can be overwhelming and scary. Remember that you can always reach out for support.

How Can Online Therapy Help?

Online therapy is a helpful resource for people who cannot receive in-person therapy. It is also beneficial for those who do not have the financial means of doing so. Online therapy can assist terminal illness patients and families with their feelings. 


Online therapy can act as a resource for those coping with a terminal illness. Additionally, your doctor may be able to guide you in a positive direction. Some hotlines allow people to speak anonymously. 


Dealing with a terminal illness is a unique process for every individual. It is a difficult path, but online therapy may be able to help make things a little lighter. 

John S.

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