Asked and Answered


    Communication

    Our society generally discourages talk about death, dying and illness. For some people this kind of discussion is most difficult with family. You can try several strategies to help your father open up and talk. It’s possible that no matter what you try your dad may be unwilling to talk. This can be hard for you, and if it is, it may help to... read more...
    It’s sometimes hard to know why people respond the way they do to their illness. There could be a lot going on inside your friend that can’t be seen on the outside. He may not seem to be declining rapidly, but may feel inside that things are changing. These changes can include pain , fatigue or lack of appetite, which aren’t necessarily visible... read more...
    Most palliative care programs require people to accept that the programs offer comfort-focused care rather than efforts to cure the underlying illness. This is hard for many people to accept. Even if deep down they are aware of their situation, it’s hard to let go of hope for a cure. This can be frustrating and upsetting for others, but people... read more...
    It may help to start by asking your husband what his fears are. It’s important to understand them and talk about them. Some fears are about what will happen physically. These fears may be eased if he understands what’s ahead, and what the health care team can do for him in his final days. Other fears may be more spiritual or emotional, as... read more...
    It can be very hard to watch someone suffer. Physical, emotional and spiritual suffering are intertwined, and they affect each other. All aspects of suffering need to be acknowledged and addressed. Your mom’s pain is likely a major factor in the distress she’s feeling. It may be this pain that’s making her say she wants to die. Pain can be... read more...
    Your presence and support is the greatest gift you can give your wife. This time can offer you both a chance to talk about things that matter to you. You may want to talk about memorable moments in your lives, share stories about people, or review important events. Let your wife know the positive effect she’s had on you. Encourage family and... read more...
    It’s normal to feel anxious about visiting someone who is dying. Our society discourages talk about death, dying and illness, and few of us have much experience with it. It’s important to remember that even though your friend is dying, she’s still the same person you’ve always known. She’d likely prefer that you treat her as you always have. read more...
    This is a difficult and yet very common experience of caregivers. When someone is not well, they often take out their frustrations and anger on the person who is closest to them. Perhaps they feel it is a safe place to “just be themselves.” In terms of how to respond, it’s important to recognize that anger is a natural and powerful emotion... read more...
    Telling someone about the death of a family member is difficult for most people, but it is even more challenging when the person you have to tell has dementia. Your approach will depend on the extent of the person's disease, where the person is at and how much they remember. Often the first thought is to try to protect the person with dementia... read more...
    Your friend most likely needs to talk about his feelings and frustrations. Listening may be the support he needs the most. Consider offering to call regularly to check in. Ask what time is best to call, as he likely has a schedule that needs to be kept. Also ask how often he’d like you to call. He may be busy, and can only manage one call... read more...
    Few of us have much experience talking about death and dying. It’s normal to be afraid of saying the wrong thing and upsetting someone. If we don’t know what to say, we often don’t say anything and avoid the whole situation. This may be why families of people who are dying notice that friends no longer call or visit. Yet, the time when people... read more...
    Living with a loved one who has a progressive cancer disease is stressful and exhausting. It affects each family member differently, and everyone has his or her own reaction. Often, the way we respond to one another becomes more intense as the stress of the situation increases. Your daughter’s behaviour, which may appear defensive and self-focused,... read more...
    It’s very important to talk with children honestly about illness and death. Children can sense when something’s wrong and may worry more if no one talks to them openly about it. Explain to your son in simple terms what’s happening with his grandmother. Tell him that she won’t be getting better. Don’t be afraid to use the words "cancer, " "death"... read more...
    It’s not surprising that we have trouble finding the best way to talk and think about death when we face it in our own lives. Few of us have gone through it or seen others go through it. Some general concepts can help people and families find the approach that suits them the best. It’s important to remember that there’s no one right or wrong... read more...
    Research suggests that children should go to funerals if they want to. It gives children a chance to see grief and learn about it. If your son will attend a service, talk with him ahead of time about what he can expect. For example, if there will be an open casket, let him know he will be seeing his grandmother’s body. He may have many questions,... read more...
    Discussion with children about death and the rituals around death need to be honest and open. Children need this because they can sense what’s going on around them. Honest answers to their questions can minimize their fears. Before you discuss cremation, talk about death in simple terms. You may say that death means someone is no longer breathing,... read more...
    If you feel that you’d like to be in touch, we encourage you to do so. You know best what fits for you and your friend: an email message, a phone call, a card or a gift, such as a book, a small plant or a bouquet of flowers. If you decide to write or talk to her, you may be worried about what to say. Sometimes, the best place to start is by... read more...
    It may be that you're having good days and bad days, and it's very hard for anyone else to understand fully what that's like. This may be hard to express, but it's worth trying to let others know. People usually ask “How are you doing? " out of habit or courtesy. When they ask this, feel free to tell them. Your response may stop conversation... read more...
    Misunderstandings are common when terminal illness and prognosis are discussed. Most people, including some health care providers, are uncomfortable with the subject. Because of this, or because they want to prevent distress, health providers may use vague terms that are open to interpretation. Two people can be using the same words, but be... read more...
    It’s common that people with progressive illnesses want to avoid certain facts. It’s especially common if they’re not responding to treatment or if their health is declining. In your grandmother’s case she may be ignoring her situation because she can’t cope, or she may be saying what she thinks her health care providers want to hear. It can... read more...
    Your current situation must seem overwhelming. So it’s natural to want to take control. In hospice, you can have a lot of control over your own health care. Before you enter hospice, it’s a good idea to meet with your health care team. They are the doctors and nurses who will provide your care. Review how you are feeling now and what might... read more...