For the children and spouses of mesothelioma victims, both the illness period and its aftermath are typically characterized by a myriad of powerful emotions-including fear, anger, guilt and regret. It is also common for the constant stress of the grieving and bereavement periods to be compounded by financial struggles and an overwhelming list of new responsibilities.
Losing a loved one is devastating enough. Families of asbestos cancer victims don’t deserve to suffer the logistics of their tragic loss too. This ongoing series is dedicated to providing information and guidance to the newly bereaved as well as those anticipating the loss of a loved one in the near future.
Over the course of the next month, we’ll feature articles covering topics including: legal rights of asbestos’ victims families, benefits available to asbestos-injured veterans’ dependents, making hospice and palliative care arrangements for a terminally ill loved one, providing support to a family member suffering from mesothelioma, coping with grief, types of bereavement and what to expect from each, helping the terminally ill draft advance directives and other final documents-and more.
Families of Meso Victims-PART NINE
When someone you love shares with you a devastating mesothelioma prognosis, it’s very normal to feel emotionally overwhelmed yourself-not mention unsure of what to do next. What do I say? How do I provide support? Should I admit that I’m scared too? These are just a few of the questions you may find yourself faced with when you become a caregiver or member of an asbestos victim’s support network. The following sections will look to answer those questions and provide some guidance for loved ones after learning about a friend or family member’s mesothelioma diagnosis.
Be Realistic in Your Expectations
A mesothelioma prognosis is inevitably fatal. With no cure yet found and most victims being diagnosed in the cancer’s later stages, the average mesothelioma life expectancy is less than two years-sometimes only months. While denial is a normal part of the grief process, try to be honest with yourself-and your loved one-when looking forward to the future. Doing so will allow you to make the appropriate decisions and plans for yourself and your family, as your lives rapidly change. Facing the painful reality of a terminal diagnosis will also help you and your loved one in communicating what needs to be said-most importantly, goodbye.
Be Your Patient’s Advocate
Most mesothelioma patients find themselves suddenly overwhelmed by decisions that must be made, changes that occur rapidly and a myriad of powerful emotions. One of the best ways that you can provide support and care during this trying time is by being an advocate for your loved one. Attend doctor’s appointments, be there during his or her mesothelioma treatment phases and help research and make decisions-medical, financial and otherwise logistical-together. Know you loved one’s desires and needs, so that you can communicate on the patient’s behalf should you need to. Know his or her medical team and be able to facilitate communication through your loved one’s mesothelioma support network.
Most Importantly-Just BE THERE!
The majority of individuals facing a fatal mesothelioma prognosis say that the one thing that often helped them the most and in the darkest of times was just having someone there. Even if you don’t know what to say or are suffering emotionally yourself-just being present can be enough to make all the difference in the world.