While there are plenty of topics that can be searched online, including death, there is little written about how to prepare for the loss of a loved one. Yet some 2 million Americans die every year, and less than 10 percent experience a sudden death, with most diagnosed with a chronic illness for a prolonged period before passing. Perhaps it’s because it’s something that most of us don’t want to think about, as it can be uncomfortable and make us feel sad or anxious.
When someone you’re close to is diagnosed with a terminal illness, death becomes something to wait for, whether it’s days, weeks, or months. No amount of preparation will ever be truly enough to cover the transition, but there are steps you can take to prepare for the painful experience of saying goodbye.
Express Your Feelings and Say Everything You Need to Say
One of the biggest regrets most people have after a loved one passes is that they never expressed certain feelings and thoughts they wish they would have. Now is the time to do so, don’t wait until tomorrow or the next day as you may never have the opportunity to again. Be sure to say “I love you” frequently – at the very least, it will make your loved one feel cared for, and you won’t regret not having said it often enough.
Spend Your Time Together Creating Special Moments
When you know you don’t have much time left, any time together is precious, which means you should make the most of what you do have. Share favorite memories and make new ones by doing something you both enjoy, perhaps listening to songs that bring back stories from the past or playing a game. Instead of focusing on the future, focus on the moment.
When you’re dealing with your own sorrow and helping to take care of someone else, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, including both your physical and emotional health. Eat well, get enough rest, and do things that help you relax and destress. You’re probably feeling overwhelmed, and getting support from someone who isn’t affected by the circumstances can be a big help. Searching online for “grief counseling near me” may be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only is it a way to share your thoughts and feelings, but a counselor can also help you think through changes that might need to be made and provide other helpful advice too.
Discuss Assets and Funeral Arrangements
When preparing for the loss of a spouse or someone who you’ll be taking over property, bank accounts, and other assets, it’s important to discuss where everything is to be found, such as banking information and account numbers. Ideally, an original will, insurance policies, deeds, and other important documents will be kept at an agreed-upon location. It’s important to keep in mind that access to a safe deposit box could be restricted, which means it will be helpful if more than one person, such as a spouse, is registered as having access to the box.
If it hasn’t been done already, all preferences such as the funeral should be made in writing. Your loved one should express desires that include everything from whether they prefer to wake to a cremation or burial.