Finding a way to cope with knowing you are dying can depend on many factors including your age, whether or not you have children, your relationships with a partner or family, and your cultural or spiritual beliefs.
Everyone will find their own way at their own pace. There is no right or wrong way. For some learning more about the physical dying process can make it easier to cope. Others find it helps to think ahead within a specific time period.
You may find it hard to feel hopeful when you’ve been told you’re dying with cancer. While it may be unrealistic to hope for a cure you can find hope in other e.g. sharing some special times with those you love.
Studies of people dying with cancer show people’s hope can be maintained when their health professionals involve them in decision-making especially about palliative care treatment options and where they’d like to die, and reassuring them their pain will be well controlled.
Maintaining a sense of control
For many people learning that they are approaching the end of life may make them feel like they’ve lost control. If you want to regain control over some areas of your life you can plan future medical decisions and tidy up unfinished business.
Other losses and changes happen throughout a terminal illness: loss of work, loss of social roles, loss of friendships, loss of connection to community and loss of independence. A dying person often needs to spend time grieving for these losses.
People often grieve for events they won’t be around for such as marriages, graduations and having babies. People without children or a partner may mourn the lost opportunity to have these relationships or experiences.
You may also gradually feel less able to do things or you may lose interest in activities you previously enjoyed. Although this process can be helpful in allowing you to get used to the idea of death it can also make you feel sad and very low.
Living with dying
You may have heard the term ‘living with dying’ and wondered what it means. For many people it’s the balance between knowing you are dying and still trying to live as fully as possible. This may mean focusing more on the present. You may find that some days it’s easier to achieve this than others.