Despite life expectancy increasing globally, more people are now spending more years in ill-health. This is because scientists have managed to mitigate the disease from been fatal, while on the other hand more people are now acquiring the disease than ever before. Lingering fatal illnesses have become more common than sudden death.
Such illnesses include HIV/AIDS,link to Diabetes and cancer. Having a person in your family suffering from any of these can have a burden on everyone else-emotionally, psychologically and financially.
This is a guaranteed effect across all illnesses. The cost of sustaining the medication in constant supply is overwhelming. It also affects every aspect of the family’s daily routine. Lifestyles are altered. Budgets from other needs like groceries or school fees, for example, would have to be cut down. The family might result in not eating healthy diets inviting vulnerability to all manner of diseases. In worse scenarios we see families selling their assets in order to facilitate funding the treatment of the terminally ill
When a loved one is affected by such a disease, they don’t immediately know how to react. Grief, in this case, becomes a family matter rather than just for the victims. The family members and even close friends face the process of bidding their loved ones goodbye and often find it difficult to deal with their feelings of grief or loss.
Moreover, they find themselves, circumstantially, spending more time taking care of their ill loved ones than giving themselves self-care-this has the potential of leading to guaranteed self-resentment and stress.
Research by World Health Organization on therapy for terminal diseases also adds that children who are about to lose their parents, or the surviving partner, have a high chance of experiencing stress caused by uncertainty about their future. Siblings who are losing their loved ones to terminal illness also tend to feel resentment and feel neglected by their parents who spend most of their time caregiving.
If experiencing either of the aforementioned, it is advisable to seek immediate professional counselling and care. This will help keep you comfortable and provide you with the best quality of life.
When you are close to someone who’s fighting a terminal illness, you are likely to experience psychological trauma due to the constant thought and worry of death. This state of high negative emotions can alter your ability to formulate well-thought-out logical decisions.
Research by J Crit Care, 2005 -on anxiety and depression in family members with patience in Intensive Care Units- confirmed that more than one-third of family members suffer depressive symptoms as early as 3–5 days after the patient’s admission to an ICU. 23% of family members have shown to remain at risk for clinical depression a year after the patient’s discharge from the hospital. There is a lot of uncertainty that is associated with fatal diseases.
This uncertainty eventually leads to clinical anxiety among the victim’s relatives and close friends. Anxiety is equally as destructive as clinical depression as it leads most to social isolation. You may find yourself pulling away from friends, or even detaching from the already existing close ones for the fear that you may lose them too and must face the same feelings and stress all over again.
In conclusion, we need to accept anxiety — and the emotions and issues associated with it — as a normal part of dealing with terminal disease among family members. Keeping such feelings in, or avoiding dealing with issues such as burnout or resentment, are likely to only heighten the problems associated with coping with a terminal disease. Better to embrace these problems and work on making the changes needed to help everybody cope with terminal disease diagnosis and management.